Estrogen is a hormone found in both the bodies of men and women. Though present in much less concentration in men, it is the primary sex hormone in a female and is produced by the ovaries mainly. It has the responsibility of developing and regulating the reproductive system and the secondary sex characteristics. It is the reason women are well, women. Estrogen is an important hormone in a female’s body and its fluctuation can result in the metabolic processes of her body to lose control. It is pertinent that the estrogen levels in the female body are maintained to remain fit and healthy.
Why is Estrogen Essential?
As mentioned above, it is pertinent that estrogen levels in the female body are maintained to remain fit and healthy. Though estrogen is the primary sex hormone, it also has various other roles and functions. It is essential for the following reasons:
- Estrogen is released by the ovaries between cycles and during menstruation. The alternation of the levels of estrogen during these two periods helps in regulating the menstrual cycle.
- Estrogen also regulates the secondary sex characteristics, urinary tract, reproductive tract, cardiovascular system, skin, hair and bones.
What are The Effects of Low Levels of Estrogen?
Low levels of estrogen in the body could result in the following:
- Low fertility rate or infertility
- As there is a lack of vaginal lubrication, it could result in painful sex.
- Due to the thinning of the urethra, possibility of contracting urinary tract infections (UTI’s) becomes higher.
- Absent or unregulated periods.
- Weight gain
- Tender breasts
- Tender and brittle bones, due to the density of the bones being less
- Sudden anger and mood swings
- Headaches and heighten existing migraines
- Trouble concentrating
What are the Causes of Low Estrogen?
As mentioned above, ovaries produce estrogen. Thus, the estrogen production is hampered anytime the ovaries are affected. The following can be attributed as the main causes of low estrogen levels in the body:
- Extreme exercising
- Low functioning of the pituitary gland
- Eating disorders
- Turner syndrome
- Premature ovarian failure
- Chronic kidney disease
The above are causes of low levels of estrogen in young females, causes of low levels of estrogen in females over the age of 40 can mostly be attributed to menopause and such transition period is called perimenopause. In perimenopause, the production of estrogen is lower and stops once the woman hits menopause.
How to Increase Estrogen Levels in the Body?
Estrogen is an important hormone in a female body and its effects and causes have been highlighted in the paragraphs above. Though low estrogen can be treated with hormonal therapy (Mostly recommended to women approaching menopause) such as, Estrogen therapy and hormone replacement therapy, one can always bring up their estrogen levels to normal by taking natural estrogen supplements or by just adding few estrogen rich foods in their diet.
High doses of estrogen are prescribed to women between the ages of 25 to 50 who have deficient estrogen. The actual dose and method of application of estrogen depends on the how severe the condition is.
In a few cases, even though estrogen levels return to normal, long- term treatment may be necessary. In such cases the dosage is usually low. Estrogen therapy also eases the severe menopausal symptoms and also maintains the bone density.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy is used to augment natural hormone levels of the body. Mostly recommended to women approaching menopause as menopause causes levels of estrogen and progesterone to decrease significantly and replacement therapy helps return these levels to normal.
Women undergoing replacement therapy and approaching menopause may have increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, increased risk of blood clotting, breast cancer and strokes.
Natural Estrogen Supplements
Not everybody can afford or want to take medication to increase the level of estrogen in the body. Few alternative natural remedies are:
Phytoestrogens are plant estrogens which are present naturally in some foods. Isloflavones are said to be the best form of phytoestrogen and can be found in soy products. The daily safe consumption of isoflavones is 50 mg, certain herbs like sage and thyme contain compounds like estrogen which mimic estrogens effect and helps balance levels of estrogen in the body.
The molecular structure of such hormones is very similar to the hormones produced naturally in the woman body. They are made of plant chemicals which are extracted from soy and yams. The body cannot different between the hormones produced by the body and which are bioidentical.
Black cohosh can be used for low estrogen symptoms such as Anger, mood swings, premenstrual syndrome, and menstrual cramps, though the effect of black cohosh is not widely popular.
Estrogen rich foods
Sesame seeds are very high in hormones that help balance levels of estrogen in the body, dietary fiber and several minerals and vitamins.
How to include in diet: Make a paste of them, popularly known as tahini and use it as a dipping sauce.
Flax seeds are considered as the best source of estrogen and contain the highest amount of phytoestrogen (three times than soybeans). Apart from estrogen, they also contain omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber and also help lower cholesterol levels.
How to include in diet: Grind the seeds and sprinkle 1 tablespoon over food and in to baking products.
Strawberries are rich in phytoestrogens and have a multitude of heath benefits including healthy hair and skin, lower risk of obesity and increased energy levels.
How to include in diet: Can be eaten raw or used in different foods.
Peaches are rich in phytoestrogens and also contain many essential nutrients. They also help reduce risk of cancer, stroke and heart diseases.
How to include in diet: Can be eaten raw or can be used in pies and desserts.
Soybeans are one of the highest estrogen foods. It contains phytoestrogens which affect the estrogen metabolism.
How to include in diet: Best when roasted, can be carried around throughout the day and eaten at any time.
Soy milk is a source extremely rich in phytoestrogens and provides relief in menstrual problems such as cramps or abdominal pain by way of restoring levels of estrogen in the body. Soy milk and tofu are also made out of it.
How to include in diet: Soy milk can be added to breakfast cereal rather than regular milk or can be consumed from tetra packs, soy yogurt can be had along with meals and tofu can be used in curries, salads, soups or can also be sauté with other vegetables.
Alfalfa sprouts would be considered as one of the best choices to boost estrogen levels. They have very low levels of calories and carbohydrates and are very healthy.
How to include in diet: Add it to salads, sandwiches and soups.
Mung Bean Sprouts:
Mung bean sprouts are an amazing source of phytoestrogens and other nutrients such as iron, fiber, folate and vitamin B- complex.
How to include in diet: Can have them boiled or raw and can be added to salads or soups.
Green Beans are quite low in calories and very high in nutrients. They are also a good source of in Iron which helps in improving the fertility in women.
How to include in diet: Can be added in salads and can be cooked in curry and eaten along with rice.
Pistachios have the highest amount of phytoestrogens among all the nuts and peanuts are also a great source of phytoestrogens. Walnuts are the healthiest of nuts as they contain phytoestrogens, fatty acids and other essential nutrients.
Legumes: White beans, black beans
White beans are very healthy. They are rich in phytoestrogens, nutrients and fibers.
Black beans are also very high in phytoestrogens and enhance fertility in women and are also rich source of fiber, protein, antioxidants and several minerals and vitamins.
How to include in diet: Can be used in salads, soups and curries can be made using them. Can also be ground and dipping sauce can also be made.
Red wine has resvertrol which is a kind of phytoestrogens. It increases levels of estrogen in the body and also reduces the risks of having cardiovascular diseases when drunk in moderation.
How to include in diet: Red wine is available freely and can be had with a light snack. It should be drunk in moderation. Expert opinion suggests keeping the level to 1 glass per day.
Dried prunes, dates, dried apricots
Dried fruits are rich in phytoestrogens as well as fiber. The process whereby these fruits are dried increases the level of phytoestrogens, minerals and vitamins in them.
How to include in diet: Can be eaten as a snack, added in curries, desserts.
Garlic is also rich in isoflavones and has a lot of health benefits. It can help in reducing cholesterol and preventing cancer and heart diseases.
How to include in diet: Chopped garlic can be added to salads, curries, soups, sauté, pasta etc to add flavor.
Grains: Multigrain bread
Multigrain bread contains lignin, a type of phytoestrogens and includes foods like oats, wheat, barley and ryre.
How to include in diet: Can be had along with sandwich spread, peanut butter etc for breakfast.
How to maintain Normal estrogen levels?
One should to the following in order to maintain their body’s normal level of estrogen:
- Consult your doctor
- Look out for low estrogen symptoms
- Reduce sugar intake
- Do moderate workouts
- Quit smoking
- Sleep properly
Thus, with the kind of importance estrogen has for the female body, it is pertinent to maintain its levels as it could have adverse effects otherwise.
Frequently asked questions
- Why is estrogen important for the female body?
Estrogen is a primary sex hormone and has the responsibility of developing and regulating the reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics in females.
- Can estrogen levels in the body be increased naturally?
Yes, they can be increased naturally by eating estrogen rich foods as they have phytoestrogens in them.
- Is weight gain a consequence of low estrogen levels?
Low estrogen levels effect the menstruation cycle and the period in a female. Irregular period means there is a problem in your ovaries which in most females is synonymous with low estrogen levels.
Table of Contents