Considering that it might take a healthy couple of reproductive age up to 12 months to conceive, without a doubt, trying to get pregnant can be quite stressful.1 What can further complicate a couple's efforts is if a woman's estrogen levels are low, leading her to wonder about her chances of conceiving with a hormonal imbalance.
Keep on reading to learn more about low estrogen and getting pregnant, including what is considered low estrogen levels, can low estrogen cause you not to get pregnant, and how to overcome these obstacles for ultimate reproductive success.
About Low Estrogen
Estrogen is one of two most important reproductive hormones, the other being progesterone, both of which drive the entire menstruation process and determine a woman's ability to have children.
Estrogen levels throughout a woman's childbearing age naturally fluctuate between 30-400 pg/mL, depending on the point of the menstrual cycle they are being tested as well as age.2
When they fall below 30 pg/mL, they are considered low estrogen levels. This state of hormonal imbalance can have various causes, including the following:
Natural causes: childbirth, breastfeeding, or perimenopause
Other causes: unhealthy diet; stress; eating disorders; extreme exercise; oophorectomy; thyroid and pituitary disorders; or delayed puberty
Does Low Estrogen Affect Fertility?
Yes, low estrogen can negatively affect fertility. In fact, a woman's fertility depends on her estrogen. Let's take a look at how it happens.
In the beginning of a normal menstrual cycle:
The pituitary gland releases a hormone that signals the ovaries to start maturing eggs from their ovarian reserve.
As these eggs mature, they produce estrogen, whose increase will trigger others hormones' release, mainly luteinizing hormone (LH).
An LH surge will eventually signal the ovaries to release the egg (ovulation).
So, any disruption along the way, from pituitary gland malfunction to low ovarian reserve, will directly affect estrogen levels, potentially interrupting the menstrual cycle, halting egg release, and essentially inhibiting a woman's fertility.
Moreover, estrogen supports the thickening of the uterine lining that is necessary for the implantation of the fertilized egg. So, even if pregnancy does take place, lower estrogen levels might affect the ability of the endometrium to support the egg and increase the risk of miscarriage.
Chances of Getting Pregnant with Low Estrogen
It is important to remember that while low estrogen levels can negatively reduce female fertility, it can still be possible for some women to get pregnant naturally, although her exact chances will depend on a wide range of factors.
While the underlying cause of low estrogen as well as its exact levels are the main factors to consider, a woman's age, weight, chronic conditions, state of ovarian reserve, diet, lifestyle habits, and her partner's fertility are all key in determining her ultimate reproductive success.
How to Get Pregnant With Low Estrogen
The best approach to getting pregnant with low estrogen is by tackling the underlying root, hormonal imbalance.
There are a number of ways to increase estrogen levels, which might consist of safe and natural options, like eating a nutritious fertility diet, focusing on moderate exercise while trying to conceive, maintaining a fertility chart, or implementing healthier habits, with the help of herbal fertility supplements.
Two of the most effective types of herbal supplements include the following:
Phytoestrogenic supplements, like red clover or ginkgo, which can be used short-term to improve hormonal equilibrium
Hormone-balancing supplements, like Macafem, which can safely be used long-term to stimulate the body's endocrine system for proper hormone production, healthy menstruation, and optimal ovulation, all of which are key to higher chances of pregnancy.
In the case of more severe hormonal imbalance, various conventional infertility treatments, like medications or surgery, might be necessary.
Because attempting getting pregnant with low estrogen levels can take longer, women might feel tempted to give up on their dream of motherhood. However, it is worth remembering that for many women of childbearing age, hormonal imbalance is a temporary and treatable state of disequilibrium behind infertility.
However, middle-aged women approaching menopause should be mindful that there is only so much natural approaches can do for their fertility. As such, those trying to get pregnant with low estrogen levels due to menopausal ovarian egg depletion are encouraged to explore alternative reproductive technologies (ARTs), like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
- Better Health Channel. (2019). Infertility in women. Retrieved November 19, 2019 from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/infertility-in-women
- Health Direct. (2017). Oestrogen. Retrieved November 19, 2019 from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/oestrogen
- Medline Plus. (2019). Estrogen Levels Test. Retrieved November 19, 2019 from https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/estrogen-levels-test/
- The Embryo Project Encyclopedia. (2016). Estrogen and the Menstrual Cycle in Humans. Retrieved November 19, 2019 from https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/estrogen-and-menstrual-cycle-humans
- NHS. (2018). How long does it usually take to get pregnant? Retrieved November 19, 2019 from https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/how-long-does-it-usually-take-to-get-pregnant/
- University of Rochester Medical Center. (2017). Estradiol (Blood). Retrieved November 19, 2019 from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=estradiol