Estrogen plays a pivotal role in multiple systems in a woman’s body. Most notably, estrogen drives our reproductive system and determines our female sex characteristics. Our estrogen levels are highest during our childbearing years and begin to fall when we enter perimenopause. Estrogen does not work alone. In fact, it works very closely with another sex hormone called progesterone. Both estrogen and progesterone control the female reproductive cycle and drastically decrease in menopause.
Aside from the natural decline of estrogen with age, low estrogen can also be caused by:
Excessive exercising or extreme dieting
Pituitary gland dysfunction
Ovarian cysts, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and other hormonal conditions that may be inherited
Low estrogen (and progesterone) levels can lead to several aggravating symptoms and can even cause other health conditions. Let’s examine the symptoms of low estrogen and how to increase estrogen levels naturally.
What are some symptoms of low estrogen
Quite frankly, there are numerous symptoms of low estrogen. A decline in estrogen and erratic fluctuations in both estrogen and progesterone can actually cause 34 frustrating symptoms for women in perimenopause.
Some low estrogen symptoms include:
Irregular or absent periods
Vaginal dryness (this can cause pain with intercourse)
Sore, tender breasts
Increase in urinary tract infections because, like the vaginal lining, the urethral lining thins when estrogen levels decline
Worsening of existing migraines
Difficulty concentrating and brain fog
These symptoms can undoubtedly impact a woman’s quality of life, especially when multiple symptoms are experienced. While having low estrogen is a natural part of the menopause transition, it does not mean you have to live with the discomfort.
How to increase estrogen levels naturally
Whether you are trying to avoid side effects of medications or have concerns over past dialogues about hormone replacement therapy, women are increasingly interested in trying natural treatment methods for getting hormonal relief.
Herbal supplements are a readily available option for women seeking to increase their estrogen levels. You only have to conduct a search of estrogen supplements over the counter options to have numerous choices at the click of a button. However, not all herbs are created equal, especially when it comes to increasing your estrogen levels. Some herbal supplements that may increase estrogen include:
Chasteberry - Fruit produced from the chaste tree contains some estrogenic properties that are thought to relieve symptoms of PMS and symptoms of low estrogen related to menopause.
Black cohosh - Native to America, this herb is believed to stimulate estrogen receptors, which can help ward off low estrogen symptoms, including hot flashes.
Evening primrose oil (EPO) - This herbal remedy is commonly found in many supplements designed for menopausal women. While there is little recent research, one study on EPO’s effectiveness at managing female ailments (i.e., PMS, menopause, pregnancy complications, and breast pain) found that it has therapeutic potential for hot flashes and PMS symptoms.
Specific vitamins and minerals may also help relieve low estrogen symptoms, including:
It is important to note that the FDA does not strictly regulate dietary supplements compared to its regulation of pharmaceutical drugs. Thus, the safety and efficacy of supplements may vary. Make sure to talk with your doctor if you want to correct low estrogen with supplements.
What foods are high in estrogen?
We can extract an incredible amount of therapeutic benefits from the food that we eat. Certain foods contain phytoestrogens, which are plant-based compounds that act like estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors. Healthy and unprocessed foods that are rich in essential nutrients can also ward off health conditions related to low estrogen, including heart disease and osteoporosis. The following foods are considered high in estrogen:
Soybeans and edamame
Flaxseeds, sesame seeds,
Berries and other fruits
Legumes (peas, lentils, pinto beans, and chickpeas)
Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage
Vegetables including yams, carrots, and kale
Along with naturally increasing estrogen levels, eating healthy foods can help control issues common in women with low estrogen, including weight gain.
What if natural approaches don’t work?
Most of the above natural remedies either support estrogen production or mimic estrogenic activity in your body. For many women, natural remedies do not offer enough support in managing their low estrogen symptoms.
If you are unable to improve your low estrogen symptoms with natural treatment options and lifestyle changes, your doctor may consider trying other alternatives, including hormone replacement therapy. Often, women also suffer from low progesterone and many of the symptoms are similar to low estrogen. Using progesterone cream or progesterone-only hormonal contraception may also help improve your symptoms.
Curious about what treatments have helped real women with low estrogen symptoms? Join us in the Perry Community to connect with women and perimenopause experts!
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.
Meet The Author
Perry Babe Julia ( RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations.
Much of her education and clinical experience are related to educating women on women’s health topics ranging from lifestyle improvements, disease management, and general health education.
Find Julia's Perry community profile right here.