I know when exactly when my estrogen levels start to drop because I don’t seem to get full. It’s as if my stomach grew double in size and I can’t seem to fill it up.
It gets complicated as to why this happens, but before we dive in, here is a list of some other symptoms of low estrogen.
Do you have any of these symptoms?
Other symptoms of low estrogen:
- Night sweats
- Low sex drive
- Feeling of losing it or going crazy
- Can’t get full when eating
- Gaining weight, especially around the belly
- Wrinkles increasing
- Bone loss
The low down
There are actually multiple types of estrogen. Estradiol which is the most highly concentrated in the reproduction years and is about 80% of the estrogen in a women’s body.
Estriol which makes up ten percent and is the main estrogen of pregnancy.
Estrone makes up the remaining ten percent and is the estrogen most prevalent in menopause.
Since estradiol is the most dominant, let’s take a closer look.
Why hunger and weight gain?
A study done at Yale, found that estradiol uses the same biochemical pathways as leptin (your “I need to eat” hormone). This is not a problem when estrogen levels are normal, but when estrogen levels are low, the leptin is does not correctly trigger, leaving you hungrier.
Leptin also is what tells the body to use food as fuel or to store it (it likes to send it to the midsection for storage).
What about depression?
Estradiol also triggers the production of serotonin (the feel-good relaxed hormone). When estrogen levels are low, unfortunate so is serotonin.
The ovaries are the where estradiol is made. There is a bit more to this, but if the body is not making enough estrogen, then the ovaries most likely have something going on as well and can result in infertility.
And… Hot Flashes, Night Sweats, Insomnia?
The connection between estrogen and body temperature is not fully understood, but there is a connection between low estrogen levels and increase in hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia.
No desire for Intimacy?
Estradiol is what makes a women’s genital skin sensitive. When estradiol is low, the body goes into protection mode.
The body thinks it is in danger and that getting pregnant is not a good idea. So, it slowly shuts all of the “intimacy” parts down to protect it from getting pregnant.
How did you get so lucky?
Harvard has a list of reasons why they believe estrogen levels decrease. Without going into too much detail on each one, here they are.
- Perimopause and menopause
- Hypothalamic defects
- Pregnancy failure
- Delivery of placenta after childbirth
- Breastfeeding (for extended period, not allowing ovulation to start)
- Eating disorders
- Excessive Exercise
- Gluten intolerance
What to do?
Dr. Sara Gottfried suggest the following as ways to balance estrogen levels.
- Avoid caffeine loaded drinks- caffeine has been shown to decrease estradiol levels in women.
- Cut out gluten- links have been shown between gluten sensitivity and diminished ovarian reserve.
- Eat soy not more than 2 times a week-it has many of the same biochemical properties as estrogen
- Eat more flaxseed- 2 tablespoons, 2 times a day- it has many phytoestrogen properties too
- Have more sex- Orgasms raise estradiol levels (basically the idea of use it or lose it)
- Don’t exercise too much- exercise only helps estrogen levels if you are already lean. If not, do much lower stress exercise, walking, jogging, etc.
- Watch your mind- stress or overactive mind can causing other hormones to become imbalance as well.
Do a little inventory!
Is this any of the issues you are dealing with?
Gao Q. Mezel G, Nie Y, et al “Anorectic estrogen mimics leptins effects on the rewiring of melanocortin cells and Stat3 signaling in obese animals.” Natural Medicine (2007) 89-94.