You don’t need a doctorate in endocrinology to know that estrogen is kind of a big deal. Estrogen is an important hormone in men and women alike, but the female body needs high levels of it if you’re trying to conceive. Let’s run through the roles of estrogen in the female body, plus some steps you can take to maintain a healthy hormone balance.
What does estrogen do?
As one of the main female reproductive hormones, estrogen is responsible for many of the physical changes. It plays a major role in the menstrual cycle, encouraging egg follicle developing and thickening the endometrium each month to support a possible pregnancy.
It also supports the fat distribution along a “feminine” pattern (generally around the breast, thighs, and hips). On top of this, estrogen contributes to mental well-being and helps you maintain strong and healthy bones.
How to increase estrogen medically
Estrogen levels drop naturally as you approach the change of life around menopause. However, it’s thought that low estrogen can cause some uncomfortable physical and mental symptoms in women of reproductive age, too. These may include:
- Hot flashes (suddenly feeling very warm and flushed in the face)
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Mood swings
- Decrease in vaginal lubrication
If this sounds like you, it’s a good idea to see your doctor, no matter what your age is. Your doctor will be able to tell if your estrogen levels are in the right range for your age group with a simple blood test.
If appropriate, you might be referred for estrogen therapy. However, this isn’t suitable for everyone, so make sure you see a physician before trying to self-diagnose a hormone issue.
How to increase estrogen naturally
Raise estrogen through food
Compounds in certain foods called phytoestrogens mimic the effect of estrogen in the body. Most famously, soy products like tofu are often recommended to women undergoing menopause. Some studies suggest soy may help prevent low-estrogen symptoms like hot flashes, but different people appear to respond to soy in different ways, and there isn’t enough evidence to say for sure.
Other foods rich in phytoestrogens include:
- Nuts and seeds (especially flaxseed)
- Legumes such as beans and lentils
Raise estrogen through red ginseng
Red ginseng is an herbal remedy used in East Asian medicines, and it also contains phytoestrogens which can relieve symptoms like hot flushes and vaginal dryness.
However, just because a remedy is natural doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Although they’re not regulated as such, medicines are still medicines. Always discuss any herbs or supplements you’d like to try with a healthcare provider.
Increase estrogen understanding
You need estrogen in the right balance to stay feeling your natural best. If you suspect your lady-hormone supplies might be running too low, don’t just chalk it up to a bad hair day. Speak to your doctor: whether you’re more suited for medical intervention or natural therapies, you deserve to feel great every day!