Estrogen is one of the most recognizable “sex hormones” in the female body. This reproductive hormone jumps onto the scene during puberty where it triggers the growth of breasts, encourages the proper formation of mammary glands, and helps important reproductive tissues to mature, such as the ovaries, uterus, and vagina. Estrogen will remain a major player in a woman’s body throughout most of her lifetime, not only for curing certain processes during her menstrual cycle but also for maintaining heart and liver health, bone density, and preventing memory loss. Estrogen also affects the functionality of the urinary tract, helps to maintain pelvic muscles, keeps skin supple and moist, and can even affect the growth of a woman’s hair. As you can probably tell, any changes to the precise balance of hormones in a woman’s body could cause some disconcerting health problems.
Why estrogen is so necessary
Unbalanced hormone levels can lead to many strange effects in the body – even depression or fertility! Periods and fertility in the menstrual cycle. If you’ve been told that your estrogen levels aren’t where they should be then your doctor is probably concerned that you might develop some of the more serious issues associated with low estrogen. Reduced bone density, or osteoporosis, is one of the most common results of low estrogen levels in the body. This condition often develops in women who are approaching menopause or have reached postmenopausal status. Without estrogen there to regulate bone density, your skeletal structure could become weakened and you would be at a much higher risk of suffering a broken bone. This may not sound too dramatic, but imagine if the bone that breaks is located in the hip or spine? This kind of break would immediately affect your independence and mobility. For a perfectly healthy woman, a broken bone would typically be caused by a serious fall or another traumatic impact; but for a woman with osteoporosis, something as simple as a strong cough could result in a broken rib.
Cardiovascular disease is also a concern for perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. If you have been diagnosed as having low estrogen levels then your heart may already be suffering the effects of atherosclerosis. This condition causes arteries to narrow and become hard. This makes it difficult for blood to leave and return to the heart which drastically increases the chances of a stroke or heart attack occurring. Your doctor may wish to closely monitor your blood pressure in order to look for signs of heart disease. High blood pressure can be a sign that your heart is struggling to pump blood through narrowed or thickened arteries which causes excess pressure on these delicate tissues. If left untreated, an artery could burst or the heart could simply stop working.
Symptoms of estrogen deficiency
Of course, these are a couple of dramatic scenarios brought on by chemical imbalances in the body. Some of the more well-known physical symptoms of estrogen deficiency include frequent headaches (sometimes very strong), pain in the joints and back, trouble sleeping, lack of energy, increased heart rate, dry skin and eyes, increased risk of the urinary tract and vaginal infections, and “hot flashes.” These symptoms are easier to recognize and explain to a doctor, but there are other symptoms that can sometimes be difficult to spot. For instance, depression, anxiety, and low sex drive are three very common conditions that arise in women with estrogen deficiency, yet they often go overlooked because most women feel that they are simply having a down spell or are embarrassed to bring the subject up with a doctor. Mood swings, irritability, and difficulty concentrating are other internal symptoms that often get overlooked. If you are struggling with these symptoms then you may have good cause to consider therapy. Endocrine infertility can occur due to hormonal imbalance. Lack of estrogen leads to the impossibility of conception. In this case, complex therapy is prescribed, including effective medications such as Clomid.
Natural estrogen supplements
The term “natural estrogen” can refer to many things. This chemical, in some form or another, is present throughout nature in animals and even plant specimens. Even many prescription products contain a derivative from naturally-occurring estrogen. When considering taking an all-natural hormone alternative, you have to ask yourself exactly how natural you want to be. For instance, supplementing your diet with foods that contain naturally occurring estrogen-like molecules can boost your own hormone levels at least enough to help you through the worst of your menopausal symptoms. On the other hand, a prescription supplement containing what is known as a “bioidentical hormone” may seem more natural to you. This type of supplement contains laboratory manufactured estrogen that is molecularly identical to the hormone that is found inside the human body. In essence, your body wouldn’t really know the difference on a chemical level; that being said, scientists are having a great deal of trouble figuring the precise dosage for individual women and developing a delivery system that one’s body will readily accept.
If you choose to try foods and vitamin supplements to alleviate your symptoms then you can start with two major items: flaxseed oil and evening primrose oil. Flaxseed oil is rich in lignin, which are compounds that can naturally regulate hormone levels. Flaxseed oil can also help to prevent or reduce osteoporosis and heart disease. Many women claim that flaxseed reduces night sweats/hot flashes and migraines, too. As little as two tablespoons of flaxseed or flaxseed oil each day can have a marked improvement on menopause symptoms. Evening primrose oil is another option to consider. This oil contains an essential fatty acid known as GLA, which is said to reduce hot flashes, night sweats, and skin conditions that stem from dryness, such as eczema. Evening primrose oil can also stabilize mood swings and boost your overall mood by increasing the production of serotonin, the “happy chemical” produced in the brain.
It’s also important to make sure that you are getting an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals, regardless of what kind of hormone treatment you decide to go with (or not go with). As you age it becomes vital that your body has access to adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Calcium will help to replenish and strengthen bone tissue while magnesium will aid in mood stabilization and encouraging a good night’s sleep. Zinc is great for preventing estrogen levels from rising too high and will also bolster your immune system. If your doctor has suggested that your progesterone levels are also on the low side then you may also want to take wild yam root, which will stimulate the production of this hormone.