Estrogen is a hormone that is present in small amounts but plays a huge part in maintaining one’s health. Although estrogen is prevalent with women, men also produce estrogen in small amounts. In women the levels are much higher.
What does estrogen do?
- is responsible for the sexual development of girls when they reach puberty
- controls the growth of the uterine lining during the menstrual cycle and at the beginning of a pregnancy
- causes breast changes in teenagers and women who are pregnant
- is involved in bone and cholesterol metabolism
- regulates food intake, body weight, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity
Symptoms of low estrogen.
Girls who have not reached puberty and women approaching menopause are most likely to experience low estrogen. Still, women of all ages can develop low estrogen.
- Pain during sex
- Irregular or absent periods
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Breast tenderness
- Headaches or accentuation of pre-existing migraines
- Trouble concentrating
- An increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to a thinning of the urethra
- Cannot sleep
- Low sex drive
- Dry eyes
- Dry skin
- Night sweats
- Pregnancy difficulties - women in their childbearing years and suffer from low estrogen may have a hard time becoming pregnant.
- Weight gain
Low estrogen can also lead to infertility issues. Bones fracture or break more easily. Estrogen works in conjunction with vitamin D. If Vitamin D is low this may decrease bone density.
What causes low estrogen?
- Any condition that damages the ovaries (such as a complete hysterectomy—a surgical procedure removing the uterus and ovaries)
- Excessive exercise
- Thyroid conditions
- Pituitary gland dysfunction
- Anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders
- Malnutrition (causing a woman to be severely underweight)
- Turner syndrome (a genetic defect involving only one X chromosome, which causes developmental abnormalities and infertility)
- Genetic defects (causing conditions such as premature ovarian failure)
- Autoimmune conditions
- long-term kidney disorder
- Perimenopause (in women over age 40 who are approaching menopause)
- Menopause (as a woman approaches menopause, estrogen levels continue to decline, once estrogen is no longer being produced, a woman is in menopause)
- Effects of chemotherapy (medication given for cancer)
How is low estrogen diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a physical exam, ask about family history and ask you about any symptoms you have to make a diagnosis. Most likely the doctor might take blood tests to measure your hormone levels. If you are experiencing hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia your doctor may check your estrone and estradiol levels.
How is low estrogen treated?
This depends on the severity of your condition and method of application. Estrogen can be administered orally, topically, vaginally, and injection. In some cases, long term is needed even after you reach normal levels of estrogen to sustain your current levels. Long-term estrogen therapy is primarily recommended for women who are approaching menopause and have also had a hysterectomy. In all other cases, estrogen therapy is only recommended for one to two years. This is because estrogen therapy may increase your risk of cancer. Your doctor might recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This increases your body’s natural hormones levels. It is used when you are approaching menopause. It is administered topically, orally, vaginally, or injections as well.
According to “Healthline,” women approaching menopause who undergo hormone replacement therapy (HRT). may have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The treatment has also been shown to increase your risk of blood clotting, stroke, and breast cancer.
Estrogen and weight gain.
If your estrogen levels are low, it can result in weight gain. Women approaching menopause are most likely to become overweight, this can cause other issues such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Estrogen treatment has evolved over the years and has become more effective. Your diagnosed reasons for low estrogen will determine your doctor’s treatment, prescribed dosage, and duration.