Do You Need More Estrogen?

​For most women, menopause occurs between the ages of 48 and 52. In the lead-up come the hormonal changes of perimenopause, which often last between four to ten years. Though some women sail through these hormonal shifts, many experience symptoms that come and go or occur daily. During this time most women feel they are chasing their tail as symptoms come and go. But how do you know if low estrogen is to blame when it comes to your hormones?

 

Symptoms of Low Estrogen

Estrogen is closely linked to how you feel, your mood, and your general well-being. So, you can imagine that if your estrogen levels were low, you would experience some noticeable symptoms such as:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Anger 
  • Irritability

 

Low Estrogen & Menopause

If you are in your mid-late 40s or early 50s & experiencing some of the symptoms  below, there are chances that you are beginning the menopausal transition. These symptoms can include:

  • Changes in skin texture
  • Hair loss/thinning
  • Amenorrhea (absence of periods)
  • Decreased libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Depression
  • Insomnia 
  • Painful sex
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent headaches
  • Dry eyes 
  • Frequent UTIs

If you’re looking to naturally control these symptoms, you might try foods high in phytoestrogens. Part of what makes phytoestrogens a bit tricky is their ability to both mimic estrogen & act as an estrogen antagonist.

The way these phytoestrogens work is interesting:

  1. If there is too much estrogen present in the body, phytoestrogens attach to estrogen receptors & prevent the natural hormone from overproducing.
  2. When natural estrogen levels are too low, phytoestrogens take on the role of raising & balancing the natural level of this hormone.

 

Naturally Increasing Estrogen 

  1. Red wine – the active constituent that makes drinking red wine so beneficial (in moderation) is resveratrol. Not only helpful for balancing estrogen, but also for lowering inflammation in the body.
  2. Flax seeds – flaxseed contains the highest amount of lignans, a form of polyphenols, which are high in phytoestrogens. When plant lignans are ingested, they can be metabolized by the intestinal bacteria in the large intestine into enterolactone. Enterolactone is the bioactive form of phytoestrogen. It is enterolactone that binds to estrogen receptors, blocking and competing with estrogen, based on if your body is too high or too low in estrogen. Think of flaxseeds as the perfect estrogen balancer!
  3. Red clover (herb) – is one of my most favorite herbs for balancing estrogen levels and a very powerful phytoestrogen. You can find it in a supplement form or make a tea out of it too.
  4. Soy – is probably the most studied phytoestrogen-rich food. It’s the isoflavone content that makes it stand out nutritionally. The research shows that isoflavones may be able to counteract decreasing estrogen levels during menopause and reduce flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and other symptoms.