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June 7, 2012

Low Estrogen Symptoms: Who Wants Them?

low estrogen symptomsAre you menopausal or peri-menopausal and experiencing hot flashes, night sweats, and memory difficulties?  Do you suffer from vaginal dryness and painful intercourse?  Are you more irritable and feeling depressed?  Are you developing stress incontinence and getting vaginal and urinary tract infections?  Well, if you are experiencing any or several of these symptoms, then congratulations! You’re experiencing low estrogen symptoms.

Low Estrogen Symptoms

The Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are the most common of the low estrogen symptoms, and result from declining estrogen levels. A hot flash is characterized by a sudden sensation of intense heat. Hot flashes are sometimes associated with a breakout of red blotches on the skin of the chest, back, or arms.  Profuse sweating can occur sometimes severe enough to disrupt nightly sleep.

Some women never experience hot flashes, while some women may experience several hot flashes a day sometimes lasting 30 minutes or longer.  Hot flashes can plague women for 2 to 5 years.  Hot flashes are more likely in women suffering from anxiety.

Vaginal Dryness and Painful Intercourse

Estrogen is essential for vaginal health.  As estrogen levels decline, the vaginal walls become thinner and less elastic.  This leads to decreased lubrication from the mucous cells. The vagina becomes dry and vaginal infections are more likely.  All this makes intercourse certainly less pleasurable, and many times even painful.

Stress Incontinence and Urinary Tract Infections

A drop in estrogen levels affects the tissues of the urinary tract leading to incontinence and increasing the risk of urinary tract infections.

Low estrogen, mood and memoryDepression, Mood Swings, and Memory

Many low estrogen symptoms are related to the brain. The brain contains receptors of estrogen and other hormones. Therefore, a decline in estrogen levels and other hormones can have profound effects on the brain and a woman’s psyche.  Bouts of depression are not uncommon and mood swings become the norm for many women. If estrogen is low, these receptors in the brain do not get activated, and therefore the brain does not function optimally.  This contributes to depression, mood alterations, memory loss, and difficulty with mental focus and concentration.

Estrogen improves blood flow and the delivery of oxygen and glucose to the brain. The production of key neurotransmitters of the brain is enhanced when estrogen levels are optimized.  This improves brain function and stabilizes the mood.  Estrogen also improves fine motor skills.

Bones, Heart, and Skin

Bone health is affected by estrogen. Estrogen prevents the resorption of bone and is critical to maintaining a healthy bone density.  Bone density decreases as estrogen levels decline eventually leading to osteoporosis.  Progesterone, the other “female hormone” helps to build bone. So bone health is highly dependent on optimal levels of both estrogen and progesterone (testosterone, DHEA and growth hormone effect bone health, too).

Estrogen prevents cardiovascular disease.  When estrogen declines the HDL cholesterol, also known as the good cholesterol, goes down.  But optimal estrogen levels can restore HDL to healthy levels.  This is important to recognize because the statin, and many other cholesterol lowering medications do not raise HDL levels.

Estrogen improves blood flow in part by maintaining the elasticity of the blood vessels.  It also inhibits platelets from sticking together.  This makes clotting of blood less likely.

Another sign or symptom of low estrogen symptoms is skin wrinkles and aging skin. Estrogen maintains collagen content in the skin. Collagen in the main structural protein in skin.  See “Anti Aging and Collagen Treatments”

Low Estrogen Symptoms: There’s No Reason to Suffer

Overall, estrogen supports more than 400 functions in the body.  Some women are able to naturally maintain healthy estrogen levels into their 60s and 70s, but they are the exception.  For most women the decline in estrogen below the critical level to maintain health is the norm, but can be restored with hormone replacement therapy using bioidentical hormones.  Not all women are candidates for hormone replacement therapy so it’s important to have a discussion with your doctor.

Estrogen replacement will improve the many nagging low estrogen symptoms we discussed, thus improving a woman’s quality of life. There’s no reason to suffer.

Related articles include “Low Estrogen Causes“, “Anti Aging Hormones“, “Having Hot Flashes?, and “Symptoms of Low Progesterone

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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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