21 Low Estrogen SymptomsJun 24, 2019
Do you suffer from low estrogen symptoms?
Unfortunately, it's not a well discussed hormonal imbalance so often, women push through their day with these symptoms, accepting that they are just part of being a woman.
In this article
I’ll give you a complete list of symptoms associated with low estrogen and go into detail on some of the more common symptoms to help you identify if this might be a problem for you.
I’ll also explain what can cause low estrogen and some options for testing your levels.
A quick overview of Estrogen
Estrogen is present in both women and men.
However, the quantity and role it plays for us women is far greater than in men.
Estrogen is the hormone known for developing female sexual characteristics and womanly curves. It also helps to keep those curves perky and your skin plump!
It plays a vital role in your menstrual cycle and when things are going as nature planned, it will be the dominant hormone in the first half of your cycle.
But estrogens influence goes far beyond your period!
Because estrogen influences so many systems and pathways in your body, it’s really important to identify if you have an imbalance.
Types of estrogen
When we refer to ‘estrogen’ we are actually talking about a group of estrogenic compounds.
The major naturally occurring forms of estrogen are:
- Estrone (E1) one of the ‘lesser’ estrogens that becomes more dominant during menopause
- Estradiol (E2) is the most dominant form and predominately produced in the ovaries. This is the form most doctors are talking about when they say ‘estrogen’.
- Estriol (E3) which is seen in greatest quantities during pregnancy
- Estetrol (E4) which is produced in small amounts but only during pregnancy.
These hormones are synthesised from cholesterol and produced predominately in the ovaries but also in the adrenal glands and fat tissues.
And sorry, ladies the synthetic stuff you get from hormonal birth control is NOT the same thing – no matter what your doctor tells you!
LOW ESTROGEN SYMPTOMS
Below is a comprehensive list of symptoms you might experience if you have low estrogen levels in your body. I’ll cover the most common symptoms in more detail further down.
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Headaches & migraines
- Hot flashes
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances
- Light or irregular periods
- Feeling down or depressed
- Dry eyes
- Low libido
- Brain fog or poor memory
- No period or anovulation
- Urinary leaks
- Painful intercourse
- Thinning, aging or dry skin
- Trouble concentrating
- Vaginal dryness
- Very light or short periods
- Loss of bone density
- Aching joints or prone to joint injury
Not to be confused with high estrogen
Because our body is complex, some of the same symptoms are seen in women with high estrogen.
If you identify with symptoms from the above list but you’ve also noticed heavy menstrual flow, period pain, stomach bloating, water retention in your hands or feet and you’ve gained weight around your hips and thighs, you might actually have too much estrogen.
Hormonal testing is the only way to truly know what's going on.
A note about when low estrogen symptoms are actually normal
There are 3 times in a woman’s life where having low estrogen is normal
- If she hasn't yet reached puberty.
- If she is approaching menopause (or in menopause)
- If she's recently had a baby.
Low estrogen at any other time during a woman's life is not normal and should be looked into.
A closer look at common low estrogen symptoms
When you think of menopause what comes to mind? Hot flushes and night sweats!
These are actually caused by the effect that declining levels of estrogen have on your hypothalamus, the area of the brain that controls your body temperature.
With low estrogen, your hypothalamus becomes extra sensitive to small increases in body temperature. If you are experiencing hot flushes or night sweats before these stages of life, it’s a big red sign of low estrogen!
Irregular periods or anovulation
Estrogen plays a vital role in ovulation.
It’s actually your rising estrogen levels that trigger Luteinizing Hormone (LH) to be secreted from the pituitary gland, causing an egg to be released from the follicle (ovulation).
If your levels of estrogen don’t rise enough during the follicular phase of your cycle, it can cause a delay in ovulation or prevent it completely.
Vaginal dryness and painful sex
Vaginal dryness can cause irritated, itchy or burning sensations. It might also take a really long time to 'get the juices flowing down there' during sex.
Estrogen is needed for your vagina to produce lubrication and without sufficient levels, you might suffer from vaginal dryness.
Low estrogen is also linked to thin vaginal walls and less flexibility of the tissue which often makes penetration painful.
Usually around the time of ovulation your sex drive will peak and this coincides with your peak in estrogen at this time.
This makes sense as we are essentially primal baby-making machines, so when we are fertile, we want sex!
However, women with low estrogen levels also have low libido levels.
Premature wrinkles and dull skin
Estrogen is one of our beautifying hormones, especially when it comes to the skin!
It affects the thickness of our skin, wrinkle formation and skin moisture. Estrogen plays a role in our skins fluid balance, collagen production and structural integrity.
In essence, estrogen helps our skin to remain youthful, so if your body is low on estrogen, you may see premature wrinkles and lose your youthful glow.
Estrogen is very closely linked to a woman’s mood and imbalances have been linked to mood swings and depression.
If you've experienced PMS before, this was likely due in part to a drop in your estrogen levels. If your baseline levels of estrogen are low, you may feel similar "PMS' emotions all cycle long.
Our brain is rich in estrogen receptors and has a very close relationship with our 'feel good hormones' - Serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine.
An important role estrogen plays is to support normal serotonin levels....low serotonin leads to depression.
Low estrogen causes the lining of your urethra (the tube your wee travels) to get thin which makes it easier for unwanted bacteria to take hold and cause infections in your bladder or vagina.
If you seem to be getting a lot of UTI’s, low estrogen might be an issue for you.
What causes low estrogen?
Our amazing ovaries are responsible for producing most of our estrogen during our fertile years. So anything that affects the health of your ovaries can lead to reduced estrogen.
There are a number of things that could be the root cause of your low estrogen. The great news is that most of these are caused by lifestyle choices which means you can take control of them!
Causes of low estrogen include:
- Over exercising
- Under eating, calorie restriction or extreme dieting
- Post hormonal birth control syndrome
- Lack of sleep
- Low fat or vegetarian diets
- Thyroid disorders or dysfunction
- Genetic defects, toxin exposure or autoimmune diseases that cause your ovaries to fail
- Chronic kidney disease
- A congenital condition called Turner syndrome
- Perimenopause or an age related decline
- Problems with your pituitary gland which produces FSH and LH
- Premature ovarian insufficiency
- Excess stress
- Gluten sensitivity
Testing your hormone levels
If you think that low estrogen might be an issue for you, make an appointment with your doctor as she will be able to order the relevant lab work to confirm your hormone levels.
If you don’t have access to a great doctor or prefer to test without involving a GP, you can order a Female Hormone Check online.
I recommend is iScreen Australia and iScreen NZ, as their process is very simple, your results are interpreted by a qualified medical professional and they help you understand the next steps based on your results. Their customer service is also fantastic which I think is extremely important.
If you'd like help to determine your estrogen levels and personal information about how to correct hormonal imbalances, click here to work with me.
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