Was Aretha Franklin talking about estrogen when she sang "You make me feel like a natural woman?"
Well... no. But she could have been.
Estrogen levels rise during adolescence, and remain an important part of a woman's life. If estrogen levels aren't what they should be, we aren't what we should be.
And estrogen doesn't just promote a woman's feminine traits. In fact, estrogen plays a dynamic role in our bodies, and is critical for our health and well-being. To fully understand how estrogen can be so impactful, it helps to know a bit about hormones in general, and how they interact with the body.
Use these 8 signs to determine if your estrogen levels need another look.
1. Pain During Sex
Painful intercourse is one of the biggest tell-tale signs of low estrogen. That's why it leads off our list.
The reason that sexual activity can become uncomfortable or even painful in women with low estrogen is that estrogen is responsible for promoting vaginal lubrication.
If sex has become difficult or painful, lowered estrogen levels may be to blame.
2. Increase in UTIs
The same loss of natural vaginal lubrication responsible for sexual dysfunction can be at the root of Urinary Tract Infections.
Vaginal lubrication is not just about sexual activity. Proper lubrication creates a healthy environment that wards of the development of bacteria, which can lead to a UTI.
3. Breast Tenderness
Many women have soreness or tenderness in their breasts before their monthly cycle as a result of elevated estrogen and progesterone levels.
So why does low estrogen cause the same?
Women who are entering perimenopause don't just experience estrogen loss. The process can be rocky, and levels of estrogen may spike and dip quickly.
When this happens, breast tenderness is often an accompanying symptom. Speaking of the effects of fluctuating hormones...
4. Emotional Turbulence/Depression
When hormones are shifting, our mood can become unstable. For evidence of this phenomenon, just talk to any teenager.
The same is often true for dropping estrogen levels. The mere fluctuation can cause a degree of emotional volatility. But with estrogen, lowered levels may make us more susceptible to feeling down, or even depressed. That's because estrogen has a positive impact on our brains, effectively increasing levels of the nuerotransmitter serotonin (one of our natural feel-good chemicals).
5. Hot Flashes
Decreases in estrogen often lead to hot flashes. That's why the majority of women experience them during menopause.
The reasons behind this seemingly random overheating are complex. If you'd like a detailed explanation of why hot flashes occur in the first place, check out our article: Understanding Hot Flashes
Healthy levels of estrogen are important for maintaining your energy. So if you've noticed a decrease in energy without a correlating life change, it could be low estrogen.
Hormones play a big role in headaches. In fact, 2/3 of women who experience migraines say that they improve after menopause.
Headaches can be caused by estrogen fluctuation, or by lowered estrogen levels generally, because of the relationship that estrogen has with chemicals in the brain that affect pain levels.
Either way, the onset or alteration of headaches could be related to estrogen level changes and especially decreases.
What To Do
Experiencing one or multiple of these symptoms doesn't automatically mean that you have low estrogen (although some symptoms are more telling than others).
If you believe that you might have low estrogen, the first step should be confirmation. There are a few ways to do that, but talking with your doctor is always advisable.
Here at Smoky Mountain Naturals, we also offer the Menopause Hormone Saliva Test Kit. The kit tests for two forms of estrogen as well as progesterone, so even if your suspected estrogen deficiency is unrelated to menopause, you'll still get the information you need with that simple test.If you do confirm that your estrogen levels aren't where they should be, we also offer a great bio-identical estriol supplement called Estro-Life. It's affordable, and easy to use. Lastly, if an estrogen issue is due to the onset of menopause, it's a great idea to learn more about that as well. For a great breakdown of what menopause is, and how to live well during these years, check out our menopause page.