The primary sex hormone produced by ovaries, the female reproductive organs, is called estrogen. These steroidal hormones are extremely important for reproduction and menstruation. The term estrogen does not refer to a single element, but rather identifies a group of compounds like estriol, estradiol and estrone.
While estrogen is primarily a female sex hormone, small traces of this steroidal hormone are also found in men. The levels of the hormone estrogen is highest among women who are of a child bearing age. As women grow older, the levels of estrogen tend to fall systematically. In fact, the levels of the sex hormone estrogen are lowest among post menopausal women.
Symptoms of Low Estrogen
Low estrogen levels brings with it a multitude of health problems. Typically, the estrogen levels in a woman’s body starts to decline between the ages of forty five and fifty five. However, it must be noted that women can suffer from low estrogen levels at any time of their life, especially if they have had their ovaries surgically removed or have suffered from some major autoimmune disease.
Women with low estrogen levels will exhibit a variety of symptoms and some of the common symptoms of low estrogen have been discussed in this article.
Low estrogen levels can affect a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle. Women with low estrogen levels may suffer from irregular menstrual cycles or may stop having their monthly periods completely. Amenorrhea, a total or complete lack of menstrual cycle is a common condition among peri-menopausal women, due to low estrogen levels.
Most post menopausal women, in fact nearly three quarters of all women who have attained menopause or a complete cessation of their monthly menstrual cycle, complain of hot flashes. Hot flashes are a common problem among postmenopausal women, who may experience a sudden rise in body temperature, accompanied by a flushing sensation and finally ends in perspiration.
Women commonly suffer from hot flashes during the night and this can affect their normal sleeping patterns. Hot flashes are often accompanied by feeling of dizziness, nausea, debilitating headaches and heart palpitations.
When the estrogen levels in a woman’s body falls dramatically, it can cause genital atrophy. The natural vaginal lubrication decreases significantly (making sexual intercourse a painful affair) and women become more susceptible to repeated vaginal infections commonly known as vaginitis.
Urinary tract infections are significantly higher in women with low estrogen levels than women who have normal levels of estrogen in their bodies.
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Estrogen plays an indirect role in maintaining overall bone density and health . For bones to absorb the mineral calcium and vitamin D suitably, normal levels of the sex hormone estrogen is a must in a woman’s body. Low estrogen levels causes malabsorption of these essential vitamins and minerals which are so vital for maintaining bone health. This is turn can lead to a condition called osteoporosis wherein the bones become porous.
The skin elasticity and strength are maintained by two components called elastin and collagen. The elastin and collagen levels drop dramatically, causing the skin to lose its elasticity and become dry, when estrogen levels fall.
Women with low estrogen levels are more likely to suffer from extreme mood swings. When estrogen levels of the body drop systematically, it can negatively affect a woman’s mental health. Often extreme mood swings accompanied by inability to fall asleep at night is the result of low body estrogen levels.