Estrogen deficiency can have a major impact on your mind, body, and overall health. It plays a critical role in your body by maintaining bone density, regulating your menstrual cycle, supporting the thickness of your hair and nails, and keeping your skin healthy. However, if estrogen levels drop, they can affect your health negatively.
Throughout a woman’s life, levels of this hormone will naturally fluctuate; they will increase and decrease depending on several factors such as age, lifestyle choices, and certain health conditions. The amount of estrogen will be at its highest in your reproductive age and will start to decline after menopause. It is important to say that there are other issues that can contribute to low levels, such as stress, medications, and diseases.
If you are experiencing hot flashes and are feeling tired, consider scheduling an appointment with our gynecologist in Sarasota, FL, who will thoroughly examine you and put you at ease. Our friendly staff at University Park OBGYN cares for your well-being and has the expertise you want. Read on to learn what causes low estrogen levels and how it impacts your health.
Women that suffer from estrogen deficiency do not always display symptoms. When some eventually show up, they can resemble those of other health issues, so it is not always easy to get diagnosed. If you are nearing menopause, you may expect irregular or missed menstrual cycles, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and hot flashes. There are additional signs of low estrogen levels, including:
- Bone fracture: As mentioned previously, your bone density reduces due to hormonal shifts. That may cause osteoporosis and fractures.
- Decreased libido: Hormones increase blood flow to your genital region. Low sex drive is a common symptom of estrogen deficiency, and many women experience it at some point in their lives.
- Vaginal discomfort: When there is a lack of estrogen in your body, your vaginal walls become thin and dry, sometimes leading to discomfort during intercourse. There is an increased chance of infections as well.
- High cholesterol: Drops in estrogen levels increase triglyceride amounts in your body, ending in high cholesterol.
- Absent periods: This happens due to irregularity in menstrual cycles in perimenopause. In some cases, women do not get their periods at all.
- Tender breasts: They may feel sensitive to touch, and your nipples may also hurt.
- Moodiness: It is common for women to have trouble focusing or to feel irritable during hormonal changes. Estrogen plays a critical role in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that handles your mood.
- Weight gain: You may experience some weight gain in your abdominal area due to low estrogen levels.
- Insomnia: Many patients report having trouble sleeping before or after menopause due to hormonal shifts.
There are many reasons for estrogen deficiency, but the most common one is age. As said previously, it is natural for your estrogen levels to increase during puberty and decrease as you get older. The following are some of the other potential causes of low levels of estrogen:
- Treatments that affect your ovaries: A procedure in which one or both of your ovaries are removed is called oophorectomy. That process usually reduces estrogen levels. Radiation and chemotherapy for cancer can do the same as these affect your reproductive system, including the ovaries.
- Autoimmune diseases: If you suffer from any, your ovaries are at risk of not producing enough estrogen.
- Eating disorders: If you suffer from bulimia or anorexia, your body will deprive you of very important nutrients and vitamins that maintain your hormonal levels.
- Genetic disorders: Fragile X syndrome and Turner syndrome cause estrogen deficiency.
- Health conditions that affect the pituitary gland: This gland produces hormones that signal your ovaries to make estrogen. Therefore, if this signal is not sent because the pituitary gland isn’t working correctly, your body will not produce enough estrogen.
- Hypothalamic amenorrhea: If you overstress your body by exercising too much and not sleeping and eating enough, you may develop this issue. When this happens, your periods stop because your hypothalamus doesn’t work the way it should.
Your healthcare provider will probably have suspicions about estrogen deficiency if you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned above. They will advise you to get a blood test done to check your estrogen levels and see whether they are below average. Estrone, estradiol, and estriol are all estrogen hormones, which are all measured when doing a test. Since your menstrual cycle has four different phases, your gynecologist may ask you to do the test at a particular time in the cycle to get the most accurate reading.
Although a blood test can easily show low estrogen levels, it will not show the main cause. In these cases, your gynecologist will do additional tests, such as a thyroid test, scans of ovaries, and a physical exam. These are necessary to determine the main reason for your deficiency and shed light on your lifestyle and overall health.
To correctly treat estrogen deficiency, it is vital to find the leading cause of this issue. By addressing the root of it, you will be able to get your estrogen levels in check and even prevent it from happening again.
The right type of treatment depends on the cause and a person’s lifestyle. These are some possible options to increase estrogen:
- Healthy weight: By being physically active and following a nutritious diet, you are not only maintaining and increasing your estrogen levels but are also nourishing your whole body and mind. You can talk with your doctor about the right type of exercise and the calories you should consume daily.
- Hormone replacement therapy: Also known as HRT, this option can help you restore levels of estrogen and other hormones, prevent the risk of osteoporosis, and alleviate other menopausal signs. Doctors often advise women in menopause to take combination therapy that provides the necessary amounts of estrogen and progesterone. These can be taken orally, vaginally, topically, or through an injection. However, this is not a safe choice for everyone since it comes with certain risks, so make sure to discuss it first with your healthcare provider.
- Stress management: When you are under a lot of stress, the hormones in your body become unregulated and unbalanced. If you want to increase estrogen, add a relaxation technique such as yoga or breathing to your daily regime.
- Sleep quality: When we sleep, our bodies regenerate, and our hormones can function adequately. Aim for eight hours of sleep during the night. Staying active during the day can help if you have trouble falling asleep.
Many women struggle with estrogen deficiency and feel hopeless because of the symptoms. This affects our bodies in significant ways and should not be left undiagnosed. Treatment depends on the cause of low levels and a person’s lifestyle choices.
Now that you know what causes low estrogen, you will be able to manage it successfully with the help of your healthcare provider. Of course, do not hesitate to visit our website and find all the information you need to schedule your appointment.