Weird Symptoms of Low Estrogen: Signs Your Hormones Need Balance
You probably know that estrogen plays a vital role in women’s sexual health and wellness, maintaining our sex drive, vaginal health, menstrual cycle, and ability to conceive (along with the pregnancy hormone progesterone). Estrogen also helps keep other parts of our body functioning optimally, like our bones, brain, muscles, and heart. So when we have low estrogen, life inside our bodies can begin to feel off-kilter.
At OB/GYN Associates of Alabama, we’re sometimes asked if low estrogen can make you feel “weird.” We understand that sometimes, it’s hard to pin down what exactly feels off. Simply saying that you don’t feel yourself is a good start. Let’s talk about a few of the lesser-known but common symptoms we see with low estrogen.
Low Estrogen Causes
Both progesterone and estrogen production diminishes naturally as we age, typically beginning to fluctuate at around age 35. Then, around your mid-40s, you may begin experiencing perimenopause, the transitional period before true menopause occurs. Of course, every woman is different, and there is no set age at which levels of estrogen drop off.
Low estrogen can also affect women in their teens, 20s, and 30s. Non-age-related causes of low estrogen include:
- Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia
- Excessive exercise (more than two hours a day)
- Premature menopause
- Cancer treatments (chemotherapy and radiation)
- Surgeries or treatments that affect the ovaries
- Certain autoimmune diseases and genetic conditions
The Many Benefits of Estrogen
The right balance of estrogen can support our overall health by:
- Keeping your blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol in check
- Boosting mental clarity, memory, and blood flow to the brain
- Improving muscle mass and bone density
- Regulating serotonin, an important hormone for mood
- Making sex enjoyable
Low Estrogen Symptoms in Women
The big symptom we’re probably all familiar with when it comes to menopause is hot flashes. Other common, tell-tale menopause symptoms include:
- Tender breasts
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness and atrophy
- Sleep disruption
But there are several other symptoms that you may not realize can be related to your hormone levels. Too often, women don’t mention these to their OB/GYN because they don’t think they’re relevant. You should feel comfortable sharing any concerns or strange symptoms you have with your doctor!
Estrogen does a lot for our brains. It supports blood flow and enhances the function of neurotransmitters: chemical messengers that aid in learning and remembering new information. When estrogen drops, you could find yourself feeling irritable, having trouble concentrating, forgetting things more often, or just feeling constantly tired. In essence, brain fog can produce a sense that something’s just not quite right, making the daily grind harder than it used to be.
Brittle Hair or Other Hair Changes
Hair loss isn’t uncommon in perimenopause. Estrogen boosts our body’s production of a natural oil called sebum, which moisturizes the scalp and hair. Without it, you may experience hair breakage, dryness, stiffness, dandruff, dullness, and other changes in texture.
Dry, Itchy Skin
Just like with your scalp, estrogen helps your skin produce sebum, as well as the structural protein collagen. Together, these two substances nourish the skin, keeping it supple and hydrated. It’s natural for our skin to feel a little dry, sensitive, and itchy during cold weather, but if you’ve noticed a significant difference, hormone changes could be to blame.
Our hormones regulate the amount of fat we store in our bodies and our metabolisms. As we age, we’re more likely to become overweight because our metabolic rate and hormone levels are intertwined. If you’re gaining weight without another easily identifiable reason, it could be low estrogen.
The link between estrogen and pain isn’t fully understood yet, but research shows that women with heavy menopause symptoms are more likely to suffer from chronic pain, especially back pain. Lower estrogen and progesterone levels may increase the risk of degenerative disc disease and spinal cord compression. It’s thought this could be because of estrogen’s role in strengthening our bones and maintaining the collagen that the discs in our spine are made of.
How to Increase Estrogen
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one of the most promising treatment options for treating low estrogen. Using bioidentical hormones, this form of estrogen therapy can help replace what your body has lost in a safe and personalized way. Learn all about HRT on our previous blog!
If you’re not a candidate for estrogen therapy or you simply want to supplement your treatment, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to support a healthy hormone balance:
- Eating a diet rich in whole foods that limits processed foods and sugar
- Getting enough protein, healthy fats, and fiber
- Finding a stable, sustainable exercise routine
- Seeking help for stress relief and stress management
- Talking to your doctor!
Visit Your OB/GYN for Help
No matter when or why your hormones are out of balance, it’s important to talk to a compassionate women’s health specialist. You know your body better than anyone, and you know when something isn’t right. You deserve someone who will listen to your concerns and find real answers to your questions. At OB/GYN Associates of Alabama, our providers are dedicated to helping women of all ages find the peace, comfort, and balance to lead a healthy life!
OB/GYN Associates of Alabama: Personalized Hormone Therapy in Birmingham, AL
Serving women in downtown Birmingham, Hoover, and Gardendale, OB/GYN Associates of Alabama has been a trusted part of the community since 1965. Whether your symptoms are the result of a hormone imbalance or something else, you need a partner in health that will help you discover relief. Find your nearest location or call (205) 271-1600 today to schedule your appointment!