Understanding hormones

Causes of Low Estrogen Levels

Menopause hormone levelsHigh estrogen levels are a serious problem for women of all ages. Its counterpart, low estrogen levels, can be just as significant; the two regularly go hand in hand with a period of high estrogen levels followed by a sudden drop. This is especially true for women who are going through menopause. In order to combat the symptoms of low estrogen levels, such as hot flashes and fatigue, it is important to understand their causes; these causes are predominantly hormonal. Keep reading to learn about the various causes of low estrogen levels, including both the hormonal and lifestyle-related triggers.

Understanding the Causes of Low Estrogen Levels

While certain conditions or environmental causes can lead to low estrogen levels in women,  the primary cause of decreased estrogen is hormonal fluctuation.

The causes of low estrogen levels can be divided into three categories: natural, induced, and special cases. Each of these is explained in more detail below.

1. Natural Causes of Low Estrogen Levels

Estrogen is produced primarily in the ovaries, by the eggs. As a woman’s body expends her eggs through the menstruation cycle, the total number decreases over time and leads to a corresponding decline in the secretion of estrogen. This continues until menstruation ceases and menopause begins. This decline in estrogen levels is predominantly what causes the host of menopausal symptoms that women experience during this time.

Low estrogen levels can also be caused by the ovaries’ inability to produce estrogen. Furthermore, links have been made between low estrogen levels and the late onset of puberty in young girls, as well as delayed development and lack of menstruation (amenorrhea).

Menopause and low estrogen levels

Estrogen levels during menopauseMenopause is one of the main reasons that estrogen deficiency occurs in women. Perimenopause is the period prior to menopause when the ovaries’ production of estrogen begins to slow down. Women experiencing perimenopause and postmenopause have found that supplemental estrogen provides the hormones needed to ensure physical and emotional well-being. During postmenopause, low levels of estrogen can increase the risk of conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis.

2. Induced Causes of Low Estrogen Levels

Causes of Low Estrogen in Women
  • Menopause
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Lifestyle
  • Diet
  • Stress
  • Eating disorders
  • Extreme exercise
  • Pituitary diseases

Induced low estrogen levels can be caused by various procedures and treatments; however, the most common causes among women include hysterectomies and chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

A hysterectomy is one form of surgery that can result in low estrogen levels. A hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus and this can be partial, where the uterus is taken away but the ovaries remain, or a total hysterectomy. A total hysterectomy, which is also known as “surgical menopause”, is when the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries are removed and this disrupts ovarian hormone production.

Following a hysterectomy, a woman enters into surgically-induced menopause and experiences hormone imbalance, regardless of whether or not her ovaries remain. Typically, the ovaries stop working within 1-3 years after a hysterectomy procedure as blood flow to them ceases.

It’s recommended that women who begin menopause due to hysterectomy should check their estrogen (estridiol), progesterone, and testosterone levels. Hysterectomies result in a shortage of vital hormones and, therefore, many women may want to utilize the available treatments to deal with this deficit.

Another cause of low estrogen levels in girls and women is radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions. Many females find that after such treatments their ovaries do not function correctly. Yet, it is worth noting that every woman’s experience is different and the performance of the ovaries depends upon the type of chemotherapy received and whether or not radiation was used on the ovaries.

3. Special Cases for Low Estrogen Levels

Conditions,  including anorexia nervosa, can disturb the activity of hormones such as estrogen within the body. Although this condition is rare in women entering menopause, it is important to remember that a balanced diet and active lifestyle are key to maintaining hormonal balance.

estrogen low levels cycleFor young women, in particular, the following conditions can each prompt low estrogen levels:

  • Genetic diseases, such as Turner syndrome.
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Insufficient body fat

Other causes of low estrogen in women are related to the pituitary gland. In addition to eating disorders, extreme exercise and pituitary diseases can also result in insufficient estrogen levels. This is because such ailments lead to a miscommunication between the pituitary gland and the ovaries, with the pituitary gland failing to stimulate estrogen production in the ovaries, resulting in inadequate amounts being created.

Now that the causes of low estrogen levels have been explained, continue reading to better understand the symptoms of low estrogen level.

Why Are My Estrogen Levels Dropping?

A woman's body requires balanced estrogen levels to function properly. When estrogen levels drop, it can cause a number of side effects including fatigue, hot flashes, and night sweats. You may be experiencing low estrogen levels due to perimenopause, estrogen fluctuations associated with the menstrual cycle or medical problems (...)

Should I Take Steps to Replace Low Estrogen during Menopause?

Estrogen levels slowly begin to decline during perimenopause. Estrogen levels regulate many of your body’s daily functions, so this decline causes the common symptoms of menopause. It can be difficult to decide whether or not to take the steps to balance your estrogen levels. This can be done with (...)

What is the Impact of Birth Control on Estrogen During Menopause?

Many women use oral contraceptives to control their menstrual periods throughout reproductive life. As you approach menopause, you may wonder what impact continued use of the pill will have. While birth control pills can manage estrogen levels and menopausal symptoms to an extent, keep reading to learn about the (...)

Signs of a lack of estrogen

Symptoms of a lack of estrogen are similar to those typically identified with menopause, such as night sweats and hot flashes. The most common signs of low estrogen levels affect the body’s skin, bones, sexuality and psychological health. Continue reading to learn more about the signs and treatment options (...)

Treatments for Estrogen Imbalance: Three Approaches

It is recommended to begin with the least aggressive approach and move to the next level of treatment only if necessary.

lifestyle changes, alternative remedies, drugs and surgery lifestyle changes, alternative remedies, drugs and surgery lifestyle changes, alternative remedies, drugs and surgery

Learn more: Treatments for Estrogen Imbalance