Estrogen is both the most loved and the most hated hormone. It’s definitely one of the most widely known hormones (if not the most widely known hormone). On the good side, estrogen is responsible for the growth and development of female sexual characteristics and reproduction. But on the flip side, it’s also responsible for mood swings and much more.
Some people have low estrogen levels because of their genetics. Others end up with low levels because of a thyroid disorder. But whatever the cause, you need to identify the low estrogen symptoms and do something about it. And while estrogen levels can vary from person to person, it’s important to know what the normal level is and why estrogen is so important. Bear in mind, estrogen levels decline naturally as you age and get closer to menopause.
Why estrogen is so important
Estrogen is a hormone present in the body in small amounts. But even in small amounts, estrogen has a big role in helping you achieve overall good health. Commonly associated with the female body, estrogen is produced by men as well, but women produce it in much higher amounts.
Here is a quick breakdown why it’s so important.
- Causes breast changes in teenagers and pregnant women
- Responsible for sexual development of girls when they reach puberty
- Controls the growth of the uterine lining during the menstrual cycle
- Regulates food intake
- Regulates body weight
- Is responsible for controlling insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism
- Estrogen is involved in bone and cholesterol metabolism
What is a normal level?
Testing your estrogen levels is done with a blood test. If you notice low estrogen symptoms, you need have a test done to confirm the situation.
Here are some of the ranges for women before and after menopause:
- Mid-follicular phase: 27-123pg/mL
- Periovulatory: 96-436pg/mL
- Mid-luteal phase: 49-294pg/mL
- Postmenopausal: 0-40pg/mL
- Following menopause: under 10pg/mL
Why you have low estrogen levels
In women, estrogen is produced in the ovaries. Anything that affects the ovaries can cause low estrogen or high estrogen levels.
Here are some causes for low estrogen levels:
- Excessive exercise
- Premature ovarian failure
- Eating disorders
- Chronic kidney disease
- Turner syndrome
- Autoimmune condition
- Low functioning pituitary gland
Women over 40 years old might experience low estrogen symptoms as they approach menopause. The time of transition towards menopause is called perimenopause, the period during which the ovaries still produce estrogen but not as much as before. You’ve reached menopause when you no longer produce estrogen.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the low estrogen symptoms.
1. Your period has disappeared
This is one of the simplest and most obvious signs of low estrogen levels. Being that estrogen is one of the primary drivers of your period, low levels can make your period disappear. When your estrogen levels of low, you’ll have a very light period, or it will even disappear altogether.
2. Mood swings
Estrogen greatly impacts your mood—imagine your monthly period on steroids! Mood swings happen because the hormonal balance in your body is totally out of control, and you’ll experience even more mood swings with low levels.
Estrogen is linked with many other hormones in the body, and one of them is serotonin, the happiness hormone. That’s why when estrogen is down, you feel depressed.
4. Trouble sleeping
Everything in your body is out of rhythm when your estrogen is down. The hormone will mess with your sleep. As a result, you won’t be able to sleep properly, and you’ll feel fatigued in the morning. And every other day.
5. Dry eyes
Many parts of your body will dry out as your estrogen levels go down. Believe it or not, estrogen is linked with how many tears your body can produce. You will notice your eyes feeling dry as your estrogen levels go down.
6. Dry skin
Speaking of dryness, your skin will also be impacted. Estrogen is the hormone that helps the skin retain its moisture. Without estrogen, there is nothing that will increase the natural acids in the skin. The result is dry skin and feeling parched.
7. Low libido
There are many reasons why you might feel like sex is out of the question. But estrogen is one of the primary reasons for that. Going back to that estrogen-serotonin connection, the latter hormone is responsible for how “excited you are about sex.” So, low estrogen, and you suddenly don’t want sex any more.
8. Painful sex
With your libido low and your genitals dry, sex is not as pleasant as it used to be. Suddenly, sex is painful. Without estrogen, your vagina dries out, making intercourse more painful than pleasant. The hormone will thin your vaginal walls, another reason why sex is not as pleasant during penetration.
9. Frequent headaches
Women overall suffer more than men from headaches and migraines due to their reproductive system. However, changes in the estrogen levels are one of the reasons why you get more frequent headaches. Right before their period starts, women experience headaches because their estrogen levels are dropping.
10. Hot flashes and night sweats
Not only is sleeping hampered by low estrogen, but the experience is not pleasant any more. Women in menopause talk about hot flashes and night sweats all the time. The reason is estrogen impacts your hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls body temperature.
11. Trouble focusing
You’re not getting enough sleep, and you’re getting night sweats. Without much sleep, concentrating is hard enough. But estrogen makes it even harder by impacting the function of the neurotransmitters, making it hard to focus and do daily tasks.
12. Weight gain
If you are suddenly gaining a lot of weight, and you have trouble losing it, the simple reason may be low estrogen symptoms. You’ll feel bloated and yes, weight gain is actually associated with too much estrogen. However, when your levels are low, your body stores more fat in the belly area.
13. Trouble becoming pregnant
It’s a challenge to conceive when your estrogen levels are low. That’s why women who have low estrogen levels and are approaching menopause have challenging pregnancies. Without estrogen, you can’t develop a nice, thick uterine lining, one of the key factors for becoming pregnant.