Understanding Low Estrogen Symptoms

Written by: Eve Biology

|

|

Time to read 10 min

Wondering why you’re suddenly dealing with hot flashes, mood swings, an absent menstrual cycle or a dip in sex drive? These perplexing signs could all point to one common issue: low estrogen levels. This article cuts through the confusion to swiftly identify the low estrogen symptoms, laying out what you can expect and how to navigate the potential impact on your well-being.

Key Takeaways

  • Low estrogen can cause a wide range of physical, emotional, and sexual symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and decreased libido, and understanding these can help manage health risks including obesity and heart disease.
  • The causes of low estrogen are diverse, including natural life stages like menopause, lifestyle factors, and medical conditions like Turner syndrome or hypopituitarism, and understanding these causes is key to effective symptom management.
  • Treating low estrogen may involve hormone replacement therapy, estrogen therapy, nutrition and lifestyle changes and proactive stress management to improve symptoms and overall well-being.

Recognising the Signs: Common Symptoms of Low Estrogen

When estrogen takes a nosedive, your body sends out an SOS in the form of symptoms. These red flags can be physical, emotional, or sexual - and sometimes a mix of all three. From hot flashes that make you feel like a walking furnace to a heightened anxiety for no good reason, lower estrogen levels don't come with a reliable roadmap when it comes to symptoms.

Physical symptoms include more than just the notorious hot flashes. Ever experienced night sweats that leave your bedclothes and bedsheets soaking wet? Or perhaps mysterious weight gain that just doesn’t add up with your diet and exercise routine? All these could be your body’s way of sounding the alarm about low estrogen levels.

Physical Symptoms

Any woman who’s gone through the menopausal transition knows that it’s far from a walk in the park. This is due to the body reacting in unfamiliar ways as estrogen levels decrease. Weight gain, night sweats, memory problems and even breast tenderness become the new normal, making it essential to monitor one’s health and be aware of potential risks, such as breast cancer.

Not only do these symptoms cause discomfort, but they can also impact overall health in the long run. For instance, weight gain associated with lower estrogen levels can lead to obesity, a risk factor for various health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, night sweats can disrupt sleep, leading to fatigue and poor cognitive performance.

Emotional Symptoms

Low estrogen levels don't just disrupt your physical body; it can create emotional turmoil as well. It’s like riding a roller coaster of mood swings, anxiety, and irritability - without the fun part. These emotional symptoms, while less visible, can be just as disruptive to daily life.

Fortunately, there’s hope. Therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and natural adaptogens can help manage these emotional roller coasters. And don’t underestimate the power of a good workout! Physical activity can help reduce stress and improve mood, making it a valuable tool in your low estrogen management kit.

Mature couple holding each other on balcony

Sexual Symptoms

When you believe low estrogen has caused enough trouble, it strikes at the most sensitive area - your sexual health. Decreased libido, painful intercourse, and vaginal dryness are just some of the ways lower estrogen levels can disrupt your intimate life.

But there’s good news. Treatments, such as vaginal moisturizers and over-the-counter medications like Gina, can help alleviate these symptoms. So even if low estrogen is messing with your sexual health, you don’t have to let it ruin your intimate moments.

The Root Causes: Factors Influencing Estrogen Levels

Low estrogen doesn’t occur without a cause, be it a sudden plunge or a slow decrease over time. Its root causes are complex and multifaceted, ranging from natural life stages like menopause to underlying medical conditions.

Comprehending what leads to lower estrogen is fundamental to the management of its symptoms and reducing its health impact. Ageing, hormonal imbalances, and certain medical conditions not only lower estrogen levels but can also increase the risk of chronic health issues like obesity, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.

 
 

Menopause and Ageing

Menopause - it’s the stage of life all women face after their normal menstrual cycle, and it’s the most common culprit behind low estrogen. As we age and enter this phase, our ovaries begin to reduce estrogen production. While this is a natural process, the symptoms that come along with it can feel anything but. Some women may even experience premature ovarian failure before the age of 40, which can cause similar symptoms. Common symptoms of menopause include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Weight gain
  • Joint pain
  • Memory loss
  • Problems with focus
  • Information retention

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor about potential treatment options.

As estrogen levels drop during menopause, symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal atrophy become more frequent. Add to that potential health risks such as weight gain and higher cholesterol levels which increase the risk of heart problems, and you’ve got a challenging transition that affects every aspect of health, including sexual development.

Hormonal Imbalances

Menopause isn’t the only factor that can mess with estrogen levels. Lifestyle habits, such as excessive exercise or not eating enough can also throw your hormones out of whack. These imbalances can lead to low estrogen, causing the same array of symptoms experienced during menopause.

In addition to lifestyle factors, genetics also play a role in estrogen production. Your genetic makeup can determine how sensitive your body is to hormonal fluctuations, making some people more prone to hormonal imbalances than others. It’s important to note that estrogen levels fluctuate naturally throughout one’s life.

Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions that can lead to decreased estrogen production include

  • Premature Menopause
  • Turner Syndrome
  • Hypopituitarism
  • Chronic diseases, such as kidney disease and autoimmune disorders

These conditions can impact hormone metabolism and regulation, leading to reduced estrogen production and potentially causing a hormonal imbalance.

Understanding these medical conditions and their impact on estrogen levels can help you and your healthcare provider develop a comprehensive treatment plan. This can include medication, lifestyle changes, and other strategies to manage symptoms and improve your overall health.

Identifying Low Estrogen: Diagnosis and Risk Factors

Having pinpointed the symptoms and grasped the causes, the next vital step is diagnosis. The sooner you diagnose low estrogen, the quicker you can take steps to manage its impact on your health.

Diagnosis can be done using your age as a benchmark and a series of questions. There is also a blood test that measures estrogen levels which are a crucial part of overall hormone levels.

However, a thorough diagnosis should also involve an assessment of risk factors. Factors like age, lifestyle habits, and underlying medical conditions can all influence estrogen levels and the likelihood of experiencing low estrogen symptoms.

Diagnostic Tests

A diagnosis of low estrogen using a simple blood test measures the levels of estrone, estradiol, or estriol in the blood ( or urine if urine test). The results of these tests can help your healthcare provider determine whether your symptoms are due to low estrogen.

Remember, these tests are merely one aspect of the overall diagnosis. Your healthcare provider will also consider your symptoms, medical history, and risk factors. This comprehensive approach ensures a more accurate diagnosis and a more effective treatment plan.

Risk Factors

Identifying risk factors for low estrogen forms a vital part of the diagnosis and treatment journey. These risk factors include aging, family history, and lifestyle habits such as smoking or excessive exercise.

Understanding these risk factors can help you take proactive steps to manage your estrogen levels. For instance, if you’re a smoker, quitting can reduce your risk of premature menopause and low estrogen. Similarly, maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise routine can help keep your hormones in balance.

Effective Treatments: Hormone Replacement Therapy and Alternatives

After diagnosing low estrogen, the next step is investigating your treatment alternatives. Hormone replacement therapy, estrogen therapy, and alternative treatments can all be effective in managing the symptoms of low estrogen and improving your overall health.

Choosing the right treatment depends on your symptoms, risk factors, and personal preferences. Some options to consider include:

  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Lifestyle changes, such as exercise and a healthy diet
  • Alternative treatments, such as herbal supplements
  • Optimising your nutrition, such as increasing fibre

The key is to work with your healthcare provider to find a treatment that suits your needs and lifestyle.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

HRT is frequently used as a treatment for low estrogen levels. It helps to alleviate the symptoms associated with this condition.

While HRT can effectively alleviate symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, it’s important to remember that it comes with potential risks and isn’t suitable for everyone.

For instance, HRT may not be recommended for people with a history of certain health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and blood clots. If you’re considering HRT, it’s important to discuss the potential risks and benefits with your healthcare provider.

Estrogen Therapy

Estrogen therapy is another treatment option for low estrogen. HRT can include a combination of hormones, but estrogen therapy involves the use of estrogen alone. This treatment can be particularly beneficial for individuals who don’t have a uterus and don’t need progesterone to balance the effects of estrogen.

Always discuss these risks with your healthcare provider before starting estrogen therapy.

 
 

Alternative Treatments

For those who can’t or prefer not to take hormone therapy, alternative treatments can offer relief from low estrogen symptoms. These treatments include non hormone based adaptogens and herbs.

While these alternatives may not directly replace the estrogen your body lacks, they can help manage the symptoms of low estrogen. For example, certain non hormonal adaptogens can help relieve anxiety, a common symptom of low estrogen.

Similarly, lifestyle changes like nutrition modifications and stress management techniques can help balance hormones and improve overall well-being.

Lifestyle Changes for Managing Low Estrogen Symptoms

Alongside medical interventions, implementing specific lifestyle changes can aid in managing low estrogen symptoms. These changes can include changing your diet and exercise routines. Not only can these changes help manage symptoms like stress, but they can also improve your overall health and well-being.

The advantage of lifestyle adjustments is that they’re completely under your control and don't need a lot of investment. You have the power to positively impact your health by making conscious choices every day. This empowerment can be a significant booster, not just for your physical health but also for your mental and emotional well-being.

Diet and Nutrition

Maintaining a balanced diet can significantly aid in managing low estrogen symptoms. Certain nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, are particularly beneficial for bone health - a concern for those with low estrogen.

In addition, foods rich in phytoestrogens, such as soybeans and flaxseeds, can help improve symptoms. Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in the body, helping to balance hormones and alleviate symptoms of low estrogen.

Woman walking to manage low estrogen symptoms

Exercise and Physical Activity

Consistent physical activity serves as another potent instrument for managing low estrogen. Exercise not only helps maintain a healthy weight (which is beneficial for hormone balance), but it can also strengthen your bones and reduce stress.

The best part is, you don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to reap the benefits of exercise. Even moderate activities like brisk walking or dancing can have a significant impact on your health and well-being.

Stress Management

There’s a close association between stress and hormones - stress triggers your body to release hormones, adrenaline and cortisol , potentially upsetting your hormonal equilibrium. That’s why learning effective stress management techniques is crucial in managing low estrogen symptoms.

Techniques such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress and balance your hormones. By taking time each day to relax and unwind, you can help keep your hormones in check and manage your low estrogen symptoms more effectively.

Summary

Navigating the world of low estrogen can feel like a daunting journey. But with knowledge and the right tools, you can manage your symptoms and maintain your quality of life. Remember, low estrogen is not a life sentence - it’s a condition that can be managed with the right treatments and lifestyle adjustments.

So, whether you’re dealing with hot flashes or battling mood swings, remember that you’re not alone. There are treatments, resources, and support available to help you navigate this journey. Take one day at a time, be patient with yourself, and remember - you’ve got this!

 
 

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if your estrogen is low?

Low estrogen levels in women can cause symptoms such as irregular periods, hot flashes, painful sex, headaches, and mood swings. These symptoms are commonly associated with menopause, but other factors like excessive exercise or ovarian complications can also lead to low estrogen.

How can I raise my estrogen levels quickly?

To raise your estrogen levels quickly, try consuming foods rich in phytoestrogens like soy products, flaxseeds, and chickpeas, while also maintaining a healthy weight and incorporating strength training into your routine. Stress management, adequate sleep, herbal supplements, and lifestyle modifications can also help.

What causes estrogen levels to drop?

Estrogen levels can drop due to ageing or the transition into menopause, but other factors can be involved as well. If you have concerns about low estrogen levels, it's best to consult with your doctor to discuss potential treatments.

What are the symptoms of low estrogen after menopause?

Low estrogen after menopause can cause symptoms such as mood swings, hot flashes, fatigue, memory loss, and vaginal dryness. These symptoms can impact various aspects of your health and should be discussed with a healthcare provider to explore treatment options.

Can diet impact my estrogen levels?

Yes, certain foods, like those containing phytoestrogens, can mimic estrogen, adaptogens, vitamins and minerals can help to balance responses in the body. So, your diet can impact your estrogen levels.