Estrogen levels in women: What levels To Look For?
Estrogen is one of the two main female sex hormones that control your reproductive health and fertility. It is important to pay attention to the levels of this hormone if you want to maintain good reproductive health. Apart from being involved in your reproductive system, estrogen also plays several other roles, from controlling your lipid metabolism to bone health.
Your body must maintain the correct levels of this important hormone. Too low or too high estrogen levels can have detrimental effects on your reproductive system and your overall health.
This article intends to serve as a source of information for you about the role estrogen plays in your body and how its levels fluctuate. We will also discuss what normal estrogen levels are and tell if you have an imbalance in your body’s important hormone.
What is estrogen?
Estrogen is a steroidal hormone secreted by the ovaries, which acts as one of the primary sex hormones for females. It directly impacts your reproductive health, fertility, and other body functions. Although the ovaries are major estrogen secreting organs, a small amount of the hormone is also produced by the adrenal glands and adipose tissue. In certain medical conditions, ovaries tend to have too little or too much estrogen, leading to several health issues.
Types of estrogen
There are three distinct types of estrogen found in the female body- Estradiol, Estrone, and estriol. Although these three hormones are chemically similar, they play a specific role in the body.
- Estradiol is found in females of reproductive age and is the major type of estrogen during this phase of life.
- On the other hand, Estrone is the most abundant form of estrogen found in women after menopause.
- Estriol is produced during especially during pregnancy, as the major form of estrogen.
When we talk about estrogen levels in your body, we are talking about the amount of estradiol, the most common estrogen found in childbearing age.
What does estrogen do?
One of the major roles of estrogen is in the sexual development of females. It is the hormone responsible for developing secondary sexual characters, including breasts, pubic hair, etc. Estrogen also controls the growth of the uterine lining called the endometrium during the menstrual cycle.
Apart from these sex-related functions, estrogen also plays a crucial role in the Maintainance of your overall health. The mineral, fat, and even glucose metabolism is controlled to a certain degree by estrogen.
Estrogen levels during your menstrual cycle
The levels of estrogen do not stay stagnant but rather fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle. A lot can be learned from knowing the level of estrogen in your body regarding the fertility status.
Estrogen levels During Menstruation
When you are menstruating, the estrogen levels in your body are at their lowest. Menstruation occurs when the body removes the unfertilized egg along with the endometrial lining. As estrogen is responsible for the growth and maintenance of the endometrial lining, the fall in estrogen triggers its destruction marking the beginning of your period.
The normal level of estrogen (estradiol, to be specific) is less than 50 picogram/ml during your period. It is the lowest level of estrogen that will be present in your body.
Estrogen levels Follicular phase
During the follicular phase, the immature follicles in the ovary start to begin maturing. It is the time between the menstrual and ovulation phases. The estrogen level rises in this phase of the menstrual cycle, reaching its peak just before ovulation.
All the follicles that start developing during the follicular phase start producing estrogen. However, only one of them eventually matures and releases an egg during ovulation.
The level of estradiol continuously increases from day five till about day 14 of your menstrual cycle. The level rises from around 19 pg/ml to 140 pg/ml, which is the highest it can reach before falling again.
Estrogen levels Ovulation phase
The estrogen levels are at their peak just before ovulation occurs. If you are trying to get pregnant, you can predict your fertility window by tracking the level of this surge in estrogen levels and luteinizing hormone levels by using ovulation tests.
You are most fertile a few days before you ovulate to the day after ovulation. Once released from the ovaries, the egg has just about 24 hours to get fertilized. If it does not, it no longer stays viable and needs to be eliminated from the body.
Before ovulation starts, the peak level of estrogen in your body can reach up to 410 pg/ml. Your estradiol levels should be hovering around the 400 pg/ml mark in an ideal case scenario.
Using Fertility2Family ovulation tests to help detect your most fertile window. detecting you are about to ovulate can increase your chances of falling pregnant.
Estrogen levels Luteal phase
Once the egg is released from the mature ovarian follicle, the remaining structure converts into a mass called the corpus luteum. As this mass starts secreting another sex hormone called progesterone, its level starts to increase during the cycle’s luteal phase. The estrogen rises only moderately during this phase. The luteal phase can last for 14 to 17 days, depending on the length of your menstrual cycle.
The estrogen levels can reach up to 160 pg/ml during this phase of the menstrual cycle before plummeting to around 19 pg/ml before menstruation begins.
Estrogen is very important to establish and maintain pregnancy. Consequently, the levels of estrogen increase steadily throughout the pregnancy. The rate of increase is the fastest during the first trimester and is responsible for developing early symptoms of pregnancy, including morning sickness. During the second trimester, the estrogen helps your body to develop milk-secreting glands in the breast. The level of estrogen reaches its peak during the third trimester. Once you deliver the baby, the levels of estrogen decline very rapidly.
The placenta of the growing fetus produces estrogen during pregnancy. A high level of estrogen ensures that there is a halt in the mechanisms leading to ovulation. As there is already a fetus growing, there is no need for the body to release more eggs.
The type of estrogen that increases in concentration during pregnancy is not estradiol but estriol. If you have a normal pregnancy, expect the estriol levels to lie between 4 mol/L during the early phases of the pregnancy to 40 mol/L by the time you are ready to deliver.
Estrogen levels Menopause
After menopause, no new follicles are developing in your ovaries, and they stop producing estrogen. The body still keeps on making a small number of different forms of estrogen, including estradiol and Estrone, mainly from the adrenal gland and adipose tissue. The decline in estrogen levels leads to the unpleasant symptoms that many women experience during menopause, including hormone flashes and low libido.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with the right amounts of estrogen is often used to alleviate the symptoms of menopause. Your doctor might prescribe your HRT in very small doses until your body is accustomed to the lower estrogen levels.
According to Woman’s Health Initiative, excessive use of estrogen replacements during HRT can have detrimental effects on your health. An increased estrogen level after menopause might lead to breast cancer and increase your risk of developing a heart condition and stroke. Women who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis are seldom given HRT.
The estrogen levels after menopause can be as low as 35 pg/ml or more down. A range between 10 and 50 pg/ml is considered to be normal.
What is a low level of estrogen?
If estrogen levels are lower than normal, it can make it difficult for you to conceive. It is important to recognize how low levels of estrogen can impact your fertility.
Signs and symptoms
Infrequent or lack of ovulation is one of therein reasons for female infertility. Lower estrogen levels might be responsible for menstrual issues, including irregular and missed periods and anovulatory cycles. Some symptoms that might indicate that you have a lower than normal level of estrogen include –
- Missed or late period
- Depression or mood swings
- frequent urinary tract infections
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Hot flashes
- tenderness in the breast
- Low libido
- headaches and migraines
If you lose a large amount of weight, your estrogen levels might take a hit. Low estrogen levels are also associated with eating disorders. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these issues.
Treatment for low estrogen levels
There are several reasons for low estrogen levels. Exercise and diet have a crucial role in training a healthy level of estrogen in your body. Adding certain foods to your diet, such as soy and wheat that contain phytoestrogens, can help treat low estrogen levels. Some foods that you can incorporate into your diet include-
- Soy containing foods (tofu and tempeh)
The best way to take care of your reproductive health is undoubtedly to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. However, it is important to consider what type of exercise you should do. Exercising too much can also cause issues with falling estrogen levels. Ditch heavy cardio and lifting and include gentler forms of practice.
What is a high estrogen level in women?
An elevation in the level of estrogen can cause many health issues. An abnormal increase in this hormone during childbearing age result from medical conditions such as endometriosis or obesity. A side effect of certain medications, including antibiotics in oral contraceptive pills, can also increase estrogen levels.
Signs of high levels
The normal amount of estrogen will help you maintain good health. You will maintain healthy body weight, your sexual libido will be normal, and your moods will be generally good. That said, if you have an increased level of estrogen in your body, you might experience symptoms including-
- Weight gain (Hip and thigh region)
- Heavier than usual periods
- Worsening of PMS
- Development of fibroids in the breast or uterus
- Extreme fatigue and loss of sexual libido
Although we don’t have control over all the causes of elevated estrogen, we have some control over others.
Several factors, including lifestyle, dietary, and environmental factors, can significantly elevate estrogen levels. If you can control these risk factors, you can get your estrogen back in the normal range. The following lifestyle changes can help you if you are experiencing symptoms of higher estrogen levels
- Choose organic food – As far as possible, stay away from highly processed food if you want to have a healthy endocrine system. Organic food can help you limit the exposure of your body to chemicals, pesticides, and other harmful agents.
- Choose the right personal care products -Several toxins and chemicals are found in personal care products, such as makeup and shampoos. Avoid using products that have paragons and sulphates.
- Limit the ingestion of phytoestrogens – Phytoestrogens are compounds found in some vegetables and plant products that can mimic the role of estrogen in your body. If you already have a problem with high estrogen, adding many phytoestrogen-containing products to your diet might worsen the symptoms. The most common foods containing phytoestrogens include wheat and soy. If you consume dairy or meat, ensure that they are made from animals raised hormone-free in a responsible manner.
- Control the stress – Stress is not a good thing for an elevated estrogen level. Meditation and exercise go a long way in controlling and managing stress in your daily life. Include some yoga and training to manage stress levels if you have elevated estrogen levels.
- Weight loss – Estrogen over-secretion is commonly associated with being overweight. If it is possible, try to lose some weight healthily. Ask your doctor for ways to lose healthy weight.
- Seed cycling – This is a great way to increase help your menstrual cycle, many seeds are nutrient-dense and have a variety of health benefits.