Estrogen has far-reaching effects on a variety of vital functions in the woman's body. Estrogen drives the developmental process and reproductive abilities of all women and has a profound impact on mood.
Estrogen levels fluctuate widely based on the age and current phase of the menstrual cycle. That being said, it is difficult to state exactly what level is normal. Pregnancy and menopause also influence estrogen and other hormone levels. For these reasons, a "normal" level can range from 50 to 400 pg/ml (picograms/milliliter).
You can take simple remedies to increase or decrease your estrogen level if you suffer abnormal estrogen levels.
Normal Estrogen Levels
Estrogen is a potent hormone and produced in the ovaries in females. A smaller amount is present in males as well.
The range of normal varies widely depending on a person's age. For those between 20-29, the average is 149 pg/ml and will increase to 210 pg/ml for females 30-39. The level falls back to 152 pg/ml for women over 40 who are not yet in menopause. These levels are generalizations as the exact level varies on a daily basis and is closely tied to the various phases of the menstrual cycle.
2. Low estrogen levels
Severe deficiency of estrogen can result in levels as low as 10-20 pg/ml and produce a variety of symptoms including fatigue, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and memory impairment. Some women will experience irritability, mood swings and feel drained and exhausted. Estrogen deficiency can result from eating disorders such as anorexia, menopause, surgical removal of the ovaries and congenital conditions. Turner syndrome and congenital adrenal hyperplasia are two such congenital disorders that result in profound hormonal abnormalities as well as unique physical characteristics.
3. High estrogen levels
Excess estrogen levels are typically noted when estrogen is in excess of 200 pg/ml. Causes include obesity, exogenous intake (medications), stress, cardiovascular disease and lifestyle. Excessive alcohol intake also influences estrogen levels. Common symptoms include mood swings, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Excess estrogen exposure is clearly linked to an increase in breast and uterine cancer.
How to Increase Estrogen Levels
If symptoms of estrogen deficiency are suspected, a visit to your doctor can confirm this by a simple blood test. After that, lifestyle and dietary modifications are an important first step to correcting an estrogen deficiency.
1. Lifestyle changes
This should be the first step in any plan to improve the quality of your life and health.
- Quit smoking. Tobacco smoke inhibits the production of estrogen and those that do so will have abnormal estrogen levels circulating in the blood stream.
- Exercise. Exercise is important for overall health, but also improves the level of estrogen. By maintaining a healthy body weight, the estrogen levels can remain within a more healthy range.
2. Herbal remedies
Herbs have been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of health issues. Some herbs are known to be phytoestrogenic and can act as substitutes for estrogen in the body. Herbs known to possess this property include: black cohosh, sage, licorice, Dong Quai and oregano. Soy also contains substances known as phytoestrogens and can stimulate or act like estrogen in the body.
3. Dietary changes
Dietary changes can stimulate the production of estrogen in the woman's body.
- Fruits. Try eating dates, cherries, apples, plums, papaya and pomegranate.
- Vegetables. Besides their potent antioxidant properties, vegetables can help regulate and increase hormone production. Choose a variety of options including: carrots, celery, eggplant, beans and lentils, peas, potatoes, tomatoes and yams.
- Grains. Brown grains are the best and options such as barley, brown rice, oats and wheat are all suitable for improving the diet.
- Seeds. Flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds contain beneficial omega oils and also help improve estrogen levels.
This is generally reserved for severe cases of hormonal imbalance. A through search may discover a tumor and require removal. The end result is usually life-long estrogen supplementation and is not without risks.
1. Avoid alcohol
The liver is responsible for metabolizing estrogen and excess intake of alcohol will impair this process. The result is an accumulation of excess estrogen in the body. The maximum recommended number of alcoholic drinks for women is one drink per day. Higher intake is also linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
2. Have more organic foods
Many pesticides and chemicals act like estrogen in the body and are readily absorbed. The best option is to choose organic food whenever possible. Cutting back on meat consumption can also help as many commercially raised animals are fed supplements containing a variety of chemicals, antibiotics and hormones.
3. Have fiber-rich foods
Estrogen is bound to bile salts produced by the liver. This bound form is then excreted in the stool and proper estrogen levels are maintained. Eating a high fiber diet stimulates the elimination of bile acids and hence estrogen as well. Regularly consume high fiber vegetables and grains to diminish the effects of excess estrogen.
4. Limit dairy products
Dairy milk accounts for up to 80% of dietary estrogen consumption. Milk is collected during pregnancy and the hormone levels are at their peak concentrations resulting in more collected in the milk. Choose non-dairy milk such as rice or almond milk. The taste is generally good and other health benefits are noted as well over dairy milk.
Moderate to intense exercise has been shown to cut down excess estrogen by 7%. The calorie consumption and fat loss also contribute to an improved body habitus and further contribute to reducing the effects of excess estrogen.