Low estrogen levels can display in a number of ways. Not only can irritating symptoms such as fatigue and headaches present themselves, but serious health repercussions can result from long-term estrogen deficits.
As mentioned in my previous post, estrogen is a major female sex hormone that is mainly produced and secreted by the ovaries. Estrogen naturally increases during puberty and maintains levels during your reproductive years. As perimenopause approaches, levels begin to decline, but some women experience low estrogen symptoms well before this.
Signs and symptoms of low estrogen:
- irregular periods
- pain during sex
- hot flashes
- recurring UTIs
- weight gain
- mood swings ¹
Please note that just because you identify with some of these symptoms, that doesn’t automatically mean you have low estrogen. This is not WebMD and you are not a doctor! If you suspect you may have low estrogen, you may order a DUTCH test from me. I am a provider for DUTCH, so I can send you an at-home urine kit to mail in to a lab and interpret your results with a clinician. From there, I can give your lifestyle intervention recs based on your results.
Some causes of low estrogen during your reproductive years include:
- ovarian cysts
- thyroid disorders
- being underweight (if you don’t have enough body fat, your reproductive system cannot function properly)
- excessive, intense exercise
- other endocrine disorders
*genetics can also be a risk factor ¹
What can I do?
This is where I can come in to help! If you verify through DUTCH testing that you do have low estrogen levels, hormone therapy and estrogen doses are available. However, if you could raise your estrogen levels naturally, I recommend doing so with the following:
- Consult with a dietitian to gain a healthy amount of weight to support your reproductive organs and system.
- If you are overexercising, ease up on the exercise. To reset and regulate the body, I know many women who had to completely take a break from exercise in order to regain their period and raise their levels. If you absolutely need to move for the sake of your mental health, I suggest going on walks or hikes with friends. 🙂 Light yoga can also be beneficial for the mind and body. In certain cases, some women need to add strength and resistance training to support their DHEA levels, which helps produce estrogen.
- Reduce stress and cortisol levels by any means necessary. We can discuss this if you are my client.
- Consume more phytoestrogens (plants that mimic the chemical structure of estrogen in the body by binding to estrogen-receptors). Some phytoestrogens are more effective in raising serum estrogen levels than others, as others can potentially block estrogen receptors and consequently lower serum estrogen levels.
Here is a list of phytoestrogens that may help raise low estrogen levels and provide other protective, health benefits as well (against breast cancer, CVD, diabetes, obesity and more).
- Seeds! Flaxseed meal, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds
- Fruits, such as strawberries, apricots, and oranges
- Vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and kale
- Lentils and legumes
- Olives and olive oil ²
Foods High in Magnesium & Zinc
Foods high in magnesium and zinc have been proven to be supportive of reproductive health.
- Nuts and seeds
- Kidney beans
- Dark, leafy greens
- Yogurt ²
Low estrogen levels can exist and plague women in their reproductive years for a number of reasons. Please seek medical advice and analysis if you suspect you have low estrogen before consulting with a dietitian and using your diet to balance hormones.
1. Medicalnewstoday.com. 2020. Low Estrogen: Causes, Effects, And Treatment Options. [online] Available at: <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321064> [Accessed 12 July 2020].
2. Mdvip.com. 2020. Foods That Boost Estrogen & Testosterone – Living Well – MDVIP. [online] Available at: <https://www.mdvip.com/about-mdvip/blog/foods-to-boost-estrogen-testosterone-levels#:~:text=Eating%20foods%20that%20can%20help,help%20women%20raise%20estrogen%20levels.> [Accessed 12 July 2020].