Low estrogen levels can be caused by age, disease, or less apparent circumstances like too much exercise. Here, you’ll learn about estrogen deficiency, its symptoms, and how to fix them naturally.
What Is Low Estrogen?
Low estrogen symptoms mean you have too little estrogen in your body.
The steroid hormone estrogen is essential for the function of the female reproductive organs and the development of female sexual characteristics.
That is why it is also known as the primary female sex hormone. Nevertheless, estrogen is also naturally present in male bodies, where it is essential for sexual functioning (Pentikäinen et al. 20001).
In the female body, however, the steroid hormone’s functions extend far beyond sexuality (Delgado et al. 20222):
- Uterus: The hormone thickens the endometrium in preparation for pregnancy during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.
- Sex organs: estrogen is responsible for the growth of the internal and external female sex organs.
- Breast: Estrogen is responsible for the development of mammary gland tissue. Moreover, it develops the mammary gland ducts during puberty and pregnancy, providing breast milk.
- Bones: During puberty, estrogen helps bones develop. After menopause, it, in turn, helps prevent osteoporosis.
- Heart: The steroid hormone helps regulate blood lipid levels, which counteracts the risk of coronary heart disease.
- Brain: Estrogen plays a role in higher cognitive functions and synaptic health that extend far beyond its effects on reproduction (Hara et al. 20153).
- Metabolism: Estrogen regulates appetite, body fat distribution, blood glucose, insulin, and other metabolic functions (Mauvais-Jarvis et al. 20134).
It is usual for hormone levels to fluctuate throughout life. However, if estrogen levels remain consistently low, it can negatively impact the abovementioned body functions.
Estrogen deficiency can have various triggers, ranging from natural changes in the body to diseases.
Essentially, lifestyle, disease, and the natural process of aging can impact the supporting role of the pituitary and ovaries in hormone production (Meczekalski et al. 20145; Delgado et al. 20226; Okeke et al. 20137):
- Caloric restriction
- Excessive exercise
- Otherwise caused hypofunction of the pituitary gland
- Damage to the ovaries (e.g., due to chemotherapy)
- Ovarian insufficiency (e.g., due to polycystic ovary syndrome)
- Autoimmune diseases (immune system attacks ovaries)
- Genetics (e.g., turner syndrome, fragile X syndrome)
- Eating disorders (e.g., anorexia, bulimia)
- Age (menopause)
- Premature menopause (under 40)
Estrogen production in a woman’s body changes over time. Therefore, three types of estrogen exist depending on what stage of life you are in (Davidge-Pitts et al. 20228):
- Estrone (E1): This is a weaker form of estrogen that occurs in higher amounts in women who are menopausal. Unlike the following variants, this estrogen is also produced in fat cells and adrenal glands.
- Estradiol (E2): The most potent and common form of estrogen in women of childbearing age, it is produced exclusively in the ovaries. Estradiol levels peak just before ovulation and drop immediately after that.
- Estriol (E3): A woman’s placenta produces a much weaker form of estrogen during pregnancy. However, estriol is hardly present in measurable amounts in women who are not pregnant.
Estrogen production in the female body does not decline only with the onset of menopause. The menopausal transformation, also called perimenopause, is a slow process. The natural decline of estrogen and progesterone begins as early as the 30s.
Therefore, even women still ovulating may experience a drop in estrogen.
Healthy estrogen levels reduce the risk for insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes improves (Murphy 20119).
Therefore, if estrogen levels are too low, this can lead to insulin resistance and other metabolic diseases.
For this reason, estrogen deficiency is primarily associated with weight gain (Mauvais-Jarvis et al. 201310).
What Are the Symptoms of Low Estrogen?
The most common reason for sudden estrogen deficiency symptoms is the onset of menopause. Therefore, the following common signs of menopause and estrogen deficiency may overlap.
Low Estrogen Symptoms in Women
- Weight gain (especially around the middle)
- Irregular or absent periods
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Sleep disturbances
- Bone loss
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal atrophy
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Decreased libido
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
Low Estrogen Symptoms in Men
When estrogen levels are too low in men, it can lead to belly fat buildup and weakened sexual desire.
Diagnosis and Test
If you persistently suffer from the above estrogen deficiency symptoms, contact the doctor you trust. Early diagnosis of estrogen deficiency can help prevent many health problems.
If an analysis of your medical history does not clarify, the doctor can determine your hormone levels through a blood test.
The different estrogen levels can serve as indicators for menopause (E1), fertility (E2), and pregnancy (E3).
How to Treat Low Estrogen Symptoms
In addition to your doctor’s treatment options, natural remedies can help you increase estrogen levels naturally.
1. Ketogenic Diet
Due to sugar reduction, keto is remarkable for estrogen deficiency and menopause.
Sugar is what no one should eat, not only in low-carb diets but also when estrogen is low and when experiencing menstrual or menopausal symptoms.
- Fructose because the liver metabolizes it into harmful visceral fat
- Glucose because it increases insulin levels and excess is converted to fat as well
These facts favor following symptoms, especially in menopausal women (Weinberg et al. 200618):
- Increased abdominal fat
- Poor blood lipid levels
- Increased blood pressure
- Abnormal glucose metabolism
The resulting glucose intake promotes inflammation in the body (Buyken et al. 201420).
Instead, ketogenic foods improve insulin sensitivity, blood glucose, and lipid levels (Boden et al. 200521).
Furthermore, the release of satiety hormones increases proportionally to the fatty acids ingested(Boden et al. 200521).
For example, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel) provide bioavailable protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, which increase muscle protein synthesis and basal metabolic rate (Hulbert et al. 199923).
Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage) are excellent low-carb foods with phytoestrogens exerting estrogenic effects when estrogen is low (Desmawati et al. 201925).
Moreover, sex hormones are produced from fat. While a low-fat diet has been shown to reduce estrogen and testosterone production, a high-fat diet improves sexual function in women (Rose et al. 198726; Esposito et al. 200727).
2. Adequate Exercise
Both too much and too little exercise can promote low estrogen symptoms.
Few people realize that too much or too intense exercise can upset a woman’s hormone balance.
On the one hand, this can result in too many stress hormones and, on the other hand, too few fertility hormones being released by the pituitary gland, harming estrogen production (Meczekalski et al. 201428).
This doesn’t mean you should give up exercise altogether. When estrogen levels drop due to menopause, physical activity can counteract the accumulation of belly fat (Kossman et al. 201129).
However, 2-3 intense weekly workouts are a healthy upper limit.
3. Special Tea
In addition to the anti-inflammatory and metabolism-enhancing properties of green tea (Serisier et al. 200830), it is worth trying the following teas for estrogen deficiency:
- Red Clover (product link): This plant is rich in phytoestrogens. Therefore, its tea can help if your estrogen levels are too low (Beck et al. 200531).
- Dong Quai (product link): The Chinese have used this tea for centuries to reduce hot flashes and relieve other symptoms of PMS and menopause (Kelley et al. 201032).
- Chasteberry (product link): Studies suggest that monk’s pepper may help breast pain and increase libido in menopausal women (Carmichael 200833; Heirati et al. 202134).
4. Quit Smoking
Even if you already know that smoking is bad for your health, the effects on estrogen production may be a novelty to you.
Among other health markers, smoking lowers estrogen levels in men and women (Windham et al. 200535).
Because normal estrogen levels are instrumental in bone health, female smokers have low bone density and a higher likelihood of fractures, especially after menopause (Denison et al. 200836).
5. Intermittent Fasting
For example, women over 60 could reduce body fat through intermittent fasting while not losing muscle mass (Domaszewski et al. 202039).
In a study of uncontrolled eating behaviors, intermittent fasting reduced cravings and depression after only two months (Hoddy et al. 201540).
Women whose hormones are out of balance experience sleep problems. As indicated by a study conducted on 14 women, intermittent fasting can help to improve sleep quality (Michalsen et al. 200343).
Hence, the benefits of fasting help you reduce sleep disturbances, mood swings, hot flashes, and night sweats.
Estrogen deficiency can affect physical, emotional, and sexual well-being. It also increases the risk of osteoporosis and metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.
Excellent natural remedies exist, such as teas and lifestyle factors like intermittent fasting, that can prevent estrogen deficiency before it happens.
However, if you notice lasting symptoms of estrogen deficiency, you should see your trusted doctor as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
What happens when your estrogen is too low?
Too little estrogen can lead to belly fat, hot flashes, and decreased libido.
Does low estrogen cause weight gain?
Low estrogen causes metabolic ailments and weight gain, especially around the abdomen.
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Stephan is a writer and a true man of science, holding multiple diplomas and master's degrees in different research areas. His greatest passion is closing the gap between the conventional perception of health and the latest scientific evidence – always following the data.