Women's Health Questions : How to Boost Estrogen
How to Increase Estrogen
Estrogen is a natural hormone found in both men and women. Keeping estrogen at a healthy level is important for both sexes, but women need more estrogen for normal bodily functions, such as conceiving children. During menopause, estrogen levels in women decrease significantly. Learn about how simple changes to your lifestyle and diet may increase your estrogen.
Seeking Medical Care
Watch for symptoms.If you are experiencing symptoms that indicate that your hormone levels are imbalanced, or symptoms that interfere with your well-being, visit your doctor. Remember that hormonal changes are quite common, particularly in women going through menopause. However, if you are not within the normal age range for menopause or perimenopause or if your symptoms are intense, you may want to visit the doctor. Symptoms may include:
- Hot flashes or trouble sleeping
- Changes in mood or moodiness
- Changes in sexual function or decreased fertility
- Altered cholesterol levels
Visit your doctor.Before you start an estrogen treatment program, ask your doctor about the effects of estrogen on your body. While estrogen insufficiency can result in problems, estrogen levels that are too high (or prolonged exposure at the wrong times) can lead to menstrual disturbances, ovarian cysts, and breast cancer.
- There are many conditions that can cause symptoms such as hot flashes, loss of libido, and other symptoms associated with low estrogen levels. Do not assume that estrogen levels are the cause of your symptoms. Consult with your doctor before starting any treatment to increase your estrogen, including taking natural or herbal supplements.
Have your estrogen levels tested.There are a variety of tests available for determining hormone levels. Your doctor will likely have you take a blood test. Your blood may also be tested for FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone), which is responsible for regulating estrogen and progesterone production in the ovaries.
- You should tell your doctor about any medications and supplements you are taking before having the test done. You should also inform your doctor about any hormonal contraceptive you use, as this could affect your test. You should discuss medical conditions including thyroid disease, sex-dependent hormone tumors, ovarian cysts, and unusual vaginal bleeding with your doctor, as they could affect your FSH levels.
- The FSH test is usually drawn on the second or third day of your period.
- There are three types of estrogen; estrone, estradiol, and estriol.Estradiol is the type of estrogen that is normally measured with testing, and a normal range is 30-400 pg/mL for premenopausal women (depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle) and 0-30 pg/mL for postmenopausal women.Levels lower than 20 pg/mL may cause hormonal symptoms such as hot flashes.
- The value of checking estrogen levels is controversial, as levels fluctuate widely throughout the day. However, it can be helpful in conjunction with a physical exam, history, and other testing.
Try estrogen therapy.There are a variety of estrogen therapies available, including pills, skin patches, and topical gels and creams. There are also vaginal estrogens available in the forms of tablets, rings, or creams that are inserted directly into the vagina.Talk to your doctor about the option that would be best for you.
- However, if you have a uterus, you should not allow anyone to start supplementing you with estrogen only. Taking estrogen alone, without progesterone, increases the risk of uterine cancer.
Part 1 Quiz
Why might your doctor rely on supplemental information, like a physical exam, after testing your estrogen levels?
Changing Your Lifestyle and Diet
Quit smoking.Smoking may have negative effects on the endocrine system, limiting the body's ability to produce estrogen effectively.Smoking in pre-menopausal women has been linked with menstrual dysfunction, infertility, and earlier menopause.
Start exercising moderately.Exercise has been linked to a drop in estrogen levels. Avoid excessive exercising, but get regular exercise in. Not only is moderate exercise healthy, it may also decrease the risk of breast cancer in women and increase overall longevity.
- Athletes may experience a drop in estrogen levels. This is because women with low levels of body fat have more trouble producing estrogen. If you are an athlete or have low body fat levels, see your doctor for a good way to replenish your estrogen.
Maintain a healthy diet.Your endocrine system needs a healthy body in order to work properly and produce normal levels of estrogen. Women cannot obtain estrogen from their diet, but eating a wide variety of fresh foods gives your system the best chance to naturally produce estrogen.
Eat soy and drink soy milk.Soybean products, especially tofu, contain genistein, which is a plant product that mimics the effects of estrogen. In large quantities, these may be able to lessen menopausal symptoms, but soy may not make a significant difference in hormone levels.If you want to try incorporating soy products into your diet, you may try the following:
- Miso, in small amounts
- Soy nuts
- Textured Soy Product (TSP), or foods made from textured soy flour.
Reduce your sugar intake.Sugar can lead to a hormone imbalance in the body.Switch from simple carbs to a lower-carb, whole-grain diet.
- For example, instead of white flour, opt for whole grain flour. Use whole grain pasta or brown rice.
Drink coffee.Women who drink more than two cups of coffee (200 mg of caffeine) per day may have higher estrogen levels than women who don't. While caffeine may increase estrogen levels, it does not seem to increase fertility. If you're trying to increase estrogen in order to ovulate, coffee and caffeine may not help much.
- Use organic coffee. Most coffee is a heavily sprayed crop, so drinking organic coffee should reduce your exposure to herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. Use unbleached filters. Many white coffee filters contain bleach that can leach out into the final product, so try to find unbleached coffee filters for a safer brew.
- Consume coffee and other caffeinated beverages in moderation. You should not consume more than 400mg of caffeine per day, and you should aim to consume much less than that on average.
Part 2 Quiz
Why is it important for women to eat a wide variety of foods?
Using Herbal Remedies
Take chasteberry supplements.This herb can be found in pill form in most health stores. Follow the package instructions for the specific dosage. Chasteberry may help relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, although scientific evidence is currently limited.However, it has not been proven to reduce menopausal symptoms, increase lactation, or increase fertility.
- Chasteberry has been shown to influence estrogen levels.However, the exact nature and level of the effect has not been widely established.
- Avoid taking chasteberry if you are using: birth control pills, antipsychotic drugs, medications used to treat Parkinson's disease, or Metoclopramide, a dopamine-affecting drug.
Choose foods that are high in phytoestrogens.Phytoestrogens act like an estrogen substitute in the body and occur naturally in several plants and herbs. Consider using phytoestrogens if you're trying to alleviate symptoms of low estrogen levels, or menopause. Take phytoestrogens in moderation. You may actually want to avoid phytoestrogens if you're trying to conceive. Phytoestrogens have been linked to infertility and developmental problems, although you would need to consume massive quantities of these foods to ingest clinically significant levels of phytoestrogens.Foods and herbs that contain phytoestrogens include:
- legumes: soybeans, peas, pinto and lima beans
- fruits: cranberries, prunes, apricots
- herbs: oregano, sage, licorice
- whole grains
- vegetables: broccoli and cauliflower
Make an herbal tea.Several herbal teas or tisanes may increase your estrogen levels or provide relief for symptoms of menopause or premenstrual syndrome without affecting your estrogen levels. Steep the herbs in a cup of hot water for five minutes.
- Black and green tea. Black and green teas contain phytoestrogens.
- Dong quai (Angelica sinensis). Used in Chinese traditional medicine, this herbmayreduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Do not use it if you use blood-thinning drugs like warfarin.
- Red clover. Red clover contains isoflavones, which may help reduce symptoms of menopause or premenstrual syndrome.
Eat flax seeds.Flax seeds have one of the highest concentrations of phytoestrogens. Eat up to 1/2 cup of ground flax seeds to get the most effect. They're also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
- Adding flax seed to your breakfast cereal or in healthy smoothies is a good way to easily eat the seed.
Part 3 Quiz
How can chasteberry supplements positively affect your body?
QuestionWhat is the purpose of using estrogen in the vagina?
Naturopathic DoctorNaturopathic DoctorExpert AnswerEstrogen preparations are used in the vagina to treat dryness and painful intercourse from postmenopause.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I increase ovulation?
Obstetrician & GynecologistObstetrician & GynecologistExpert AnswerIf you have a regular menstrual cycle, it is likely that you are ovulating regularly, but you could confirm with over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits. If you are not ovulating, a common cause is PCOS. Modest weight loss often restores ovulation in this circumstance. Otherwise there are effective medications to help.Thanks!
QuestionHow can you increase breast size during puberty?
Obstetrician & GynecologistObstetrician & GynecologistExpert AnswerYou cannot. Please do not purchase any of the 'creams' or other products for this as they do not work.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are my chances of getting pregnant if I am 40 years old?
Obstetrician & GynecologistObstetrician & GynecologistExpert AnswerMany issues factor in to fertility. Labwork would be helpful for determining this.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do to start my menstrual cycle again?
Obstetrician & GynecologistObstetrician & GynecologistExpert AnswerThere are many causes of an absent menstrual cycle. The best treatment depends on the reason the cycle has stopped. Common causes include polycystic ovarian syndrome, pregnancy, obesity, excessive exercise, being underweight, etc.Thanks!
QuestionDo phytoestrogens increase estrogen levels?
Obstetrician & GynecologistObstetrician & GynecologistExpert AnswerPhytoestrogens do not increase estrogen, but depending on their molecular structure they can have effects in some tissues like estrogen. There is research ongoing on this topic because it is poorly understood how this relates to cancer risk. Asian countries have lower breast cancer rates than America, but have far greater intake of phytoestrogens. There really isn't good evidence either way, but I wouldn't avoid eating broccoli over it.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can you do to increase egg production?
Obstetrician & GynecologistObstetrician & GynecologistExpert AnswerAre you attempting pregnancy? If you are not developing a dominant follicle for ovulation you may need additional testing or treatments for this. There are medications designed to help with ovulation if this is your problem.Thanks!
QuestionIs there a way for a 23 year old (with two children) to increase her hormone levels? Her doctor said that she had low hormone levels
Obstetrician & GynecologistObstetrician & GynecologistExpert AnswerDo you have regular menses? If so, it is unlikely that you have low hormone levels. Ask your physician why you were tested for this and what treatment they recommend.Thanks!
QuestionWhile going through menopause, is it normal to feel bloated and have gas after you finish eating?
Obstetrician & GynecologistObstetrician & GynecologistExpert AnswerI would recommend consulting with your OB/GYN or even a gastroenterologist.Thanks!
QuestionIs 10 pmol/L of estradiol dangerous for a man of 25 years? What are the disadvantages?
Obstetrician & GynecologistObstetrician & GynecologistExpert AnswerWithout more information I am unclear why this would be prescribed. If you have any questions about prescriptions, you should talk to your doctor.Thanks!
Can stress cause low estrogen?
What can I take if I am menopausal but allergic to the herbal recommendation?
Can natural estrogen hen sources food change an android type body to a feminine body?
Can estrogen make my skin clearer?
Are estrogen supplements a good method to recover from childbirth?
- There are many other potential causes for symptoms such as hot flashes, loss of libido, etc. Do not assume that estrogen levels are to blame for these symptoms. Leave this assessment to your doctor. If you are having symptoms that concern you, consult with your physician.
- Ingesting more than the recommended amount of flax seed can decrease the effectiveness of some medications.
- Do not begin taking supplements without first consulting your doctor.
- Women who are pregnant can have estrogen levels rise by 100 times the normal levels.If you're pregnant, don't try to increase your estrogen levels or take any supplements or medications without talking to your doctor.
Sources and Citations
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