There are periods in a woman's reproductive life in which her estrogen levels fluctuate from high to low, provoking a variety of temporary symptoms, including nausea, headaches, memory lapses, hot flashes, and more. However, when there are constantly or permanently decreased estrogen levels, more problematic conditions can develop.
Read on to learn more about the causes, risk factors, signs, and symptoms of estrogen deficiency to better understand how to redirect endocrine system functions back to normal.
Estrogen deficiency - or hypoestrogenism – is a consistent lack or decreased levels of estrogen that has adverse effects on the female body.
For all intents and purposes, an estrogen deficiency is distinct from temporary low estrogen levels, which occur when estrogen levels are periodically below normal, such as the beginning of each menstrual cycle. An estrogen deficiency is mid- to long-term and continual.
A permanent state of low estrogen levels - despite the hormone's regular fluctuation - is often caused by prolonged exposure to a certain stimulus.
Some principal causes that can provoke an estrogen deficiency include genetic predispositions, abnormal gland function, hysterectomies, radiation therapies, and exogenous hormone regimes.
Some congenital conditions prohibit the body from producing or using estrogens. For example, an aromatase deficiency causes there to be permanently reduced levels of estrogen in light of increased testosterone.
With estrogen resistance, or estrogen insensitivity syndrome, estrogen receptors are unable to respond to the hormone's biological effects. Furthermore, estrogen deficiency can be caused by a neurogenetic disorder known as Turner syndrome.
Hyperthyroidism can offset hormones responsible for triggering monthly ovulation or induce amenorrhea, which is an absence of menstrual cycles.
Moreover, hypopituitarism, a loss of pituitary gland hormone production, can lead to an estrogen deficiency as it helps control the secretion of sex hormones like estrogen. Miscommunication between the pituitary gland and ovaries leads to inadequate amounts of estrogen being produced.
There are several types of hysterectomies in which part or all of the reproductive system is taken out. In general, removing the ovaries generates an estrogen deficiency since they produce the majority of a woman's estrogen supply.
Surgical removal of the uterus alone does not invoke a state of estrogen deficiency immediately, but it was found that women develop deficiencies within six months to two years afterwards due to reduced blood flow to the ovaries.
Both chemotherapy and pelvic radiation therapy often affect ovarian function and hormonal levels in a woman's body, causing an estrogen deficiency.
Depending on a woman's age and dose of radiation, loss of ovarian function can occur as soon as two to three weeks into radiation treatment. This loss of ovarian function may be temporary or permanent.
Moreover, the consumption of exogenous hormones has been linked to the presence of an estrogen deficient state in women. These drugs – such as rifampicin, barbiturates, warfarin, primidone, carbamazepine, griseofulvin, and phenytoin - enhance estrogen's metabolism in the liver.
Recall that the liver is the organ responsible for converting estrogen to inactive metabolites to later be eliminated through the bowels. Therefore, with the metabolism process improved, estrogen is eliminated quicker.
Additionally, risk factors are characteristics that serve as potential reasons for women to have an estrogen deficiency. There are a variety of risk factors that make women more susceptible to this hormonal imbalance.
Symptoms of estrogen deficiency are like those of low estrogen levels. However, these symptoms are normally continuous and can develop into complications if left unattended. Common estrogen deficiency symptoms include:
A constant and cumulative buildup of the aforementioned symptoms can manifest into major medical concerns. Critical complications caused by an estrogen deficiency and distinguishing characteristics of each include:
Medical signs are measurable criteria that are normally evaluated by a doctor. Based on the prior symptoms and complications mentioned, the following test results will be used in diagnosing an estrogen deficiency.
Continue reading to learn more about the various options available for increasing estrogen levels.
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A better understanding of how your body works will help you cope with hormonal fluctuations.
Detecting symptoms of hormonal imbalance can prevent you from developing serious conditions.
Implement simple lifestyle changes and natural approaches to prevent, manage, and relieve symptoms.