Estrogen is a growth hormone responsible for the development and maintenance of the female reproductive system. It is actually a family of hormones that includes: estradiol (E2 – our main estrogen), estriol (E3 – the predominant estrogen during pregnancy), and estrone (E1 – the predominant estrogen in menopause)
Estrogen is released in high amounts during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle which is the first two weeks leading up to ovulation. Estrogen is released from the ovaries, fat tissue, and adrenal glands.
The main functions of estrogen include:
- building up the uterine wall for the menstrual cycle
- stimulating the growth of the egg follicle
- developing breast tissue
- stabilizing bone density
- controlling the metabolism of glucose and lipids.
Low levels of estrogen can result in symptoms like:
- night sweats
- light or short periods (less than 3 days)
- achy joints
- vaginal dryness
- mood swings
- low libido
- painful sex
- trouble sleeping
Low levels of estrogen naturally occur after menopause, but low levels can also emerge during perimenopause (the stages leading up to menopause).
If you’re experiencing low estrogen levels before perimenopause it’s important to dig into the root cause (or reason why it is low).
You may be wondering: “are there ways to increase estrogen levels naturally?”
The good news (actually, great, amazing, fantastic new) is YES – there are natural ways to help increase low estrogen levels in the body.
How can I increase estrogen naturally?
Here are 13 ways to raise estrogen levels naturally:
1. VITAMIN E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the detoxification of estrogen. It has regulatory properties to either increase or decrease estrogen levels depending on the original levels, so in the case of low estrogen, it can inhibit the detoxification process which will increase the free estrogen levels. This is how vitamin E can increase estrogen naturally.
2. TRIAL REMOVING GLUTEN
Gluten intolerance is an immune response to gluten. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where gluten proteins cause damage and inflammation in the small intestine. Gluten is contained in wheat, rye, and barley products. When gluten is ingested in the body, the immune system attacks the small intestine to further increase the inflammation. This process, if gluten is not avoided, will exhaust your adrenal glands which release stress hormones. We know that stress plays a large factor in the reproductive system, and can contribute to lower estrogen levels. Because of this, when gluten is avoided, you will decrease cortisol and the internal stress which will increase estrogen naturally. Additionally, gluten intolerance is also a factor that can promote amenorrhea, infertility, and diminished ovarian reserve, which are associated with lowered estrogen levels.
Source: Gluten Free Society
Ginseng originated in China and has been used for over 2 million years as a natural medicine remedy. It is consumed as a herbal tea that has many claimed health benefits, one of which is increasing estrogen naturally. Ginseng was found to upregulate estrogen production in the uterus, ovary, breast, bone, fat tissue, and in the liver. Additionally, a study found that ginseng may cause estrogen to counteract stress in the brain by utilizing antioxidation, which is also beneficial to increase estrogen naturally because stress typically decreases estrogen.
4. GROUND FLAX
Ground flaxseed can increase estrogen naturally due to its phytoestrogen (plant estrogen) component. Flaxseed contains dietary lignans which are a type of phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens exert a weak estrogenic effect, so in the case of low estrogen in women, the phytoestrogens can promote the existing estrogen’s function which will increase estrogen naturally. It is important to note that flaxseed should be consumed as ground or milled because the whole seed contains a natural coating that our body can not digest fully. In order to get the most benefit out of flaxseed, pour it in a food processor and blend until it forms a powder, and then it can be added to oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, or pancakes.
Soybeans and the products produced from them, such as tofu and miso, are a great source of phytoestrogensTrusted Source. Phytoestrogens mimic estrogen in the body by binding to estrogen receptors, and can have estrogenic or anti-estrogenic effects.
Acupuncture is an alternative medicine where thin needles are placed in specific areas on the body usually to relieve pain or discomfort, but recently, it has been studied on its effects on hormones. It was found that acupuncture was shown to increase estrogen naturally in women who were diagnosed with ovarian dysfunction. Those with ovarian dysfunction have typically very low estrogen levels because the ovaries fail to mature follicles and release an egg for ovulation.
7. GENTLE EXERCISE
Gentle exercise is a great way to increase estrogen naturally. It is important to not go overboard with intense exercise because this can actually keep your estrogen levels low. Over-exercising puts high stress on the body when you are not taking advantage of rest. Gentle exercise like going on a walk, a bike ride, or a swim at a moderate intensity would be a perfect way to move your body to increase estrogen naturally. If you can hold a conversation while completing the activity or exercise without needing to catch your breath, this is moderate intensity. Gentle exercise will help you to maintain a comfortable body fat percentage which is a key factor in estrogen production. As a rule of thumb, most females need at least 17% body fat to maintain a normal hormone function for a healthy and regular menstrual cycle.
8. REDUCE CAFFEINE
Caffeine is a stimulant drug. When you ingest it, the body is stimulated and therefore is working faster than it needs it to. This sets off a stress response, and cortisol is released. The stress from the ingestion of caffeine will inhibit the circulation of estrogen and levels will drop. Caffeine also affects the metabolism of estrogen causing less estrogen to circulate in the body because more will be excreted. As a result, when you reduce your caffeine intake, you will reduce the stress response, which will increase estrogen naturally back to homeostasis.
In patients with PCOS, estrogen levels are typically low from the increase in androgens. A study found that pomegranates can be beneficial because the pomegranate juice was able to increase estrogen naturally in participants with PCOS. Pomegranate also contains phytoestrogens which have been shown to inhibit the binding of estrogen receptors causing an increase in estrogen circulating in the body.
10. SESAME SEEDS
Sesame seeds are another dietary source of phytoestrogens. Another study from 2014 investigated the impact of soybean and sesame oils on humans
The researchers found that a 2-month diet supplemented with these oils was able to improve bone health markers. This research suggests a positive estrogen-like effect of both sesame and soy seeds, although further human research is needed.
11. MANAGE STRESS
The stress response in our body causes multiple body functions to change. As a result, we will produce higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, from the adrenal glands. Depending on the situation, stress can cause either an increase or decrease in estrogen, it just depends on the source of stress. Stress can cause low levels of estrogen when the stress is coming from over-exercising or undereating. At these circumstances, we have very low body fat, which will cause estrogen levels to drop. As a result, we will have weaker bones, loss of period, and decrease in body heat regulation. This is why managing stress can be a great way to increase your estrogen naturally because we won’t be producing as much cortisol.
Magnesium is a powerful regulatory mineral in estrogen metabolism. It also can control the detoxification of estrogen in 2 main pathways. Because of this, magnesium can increase estrogen naturally when levels are low.
There are several ways to increase estrogen naturally if you have low levels.
While we mentioned lots of different options, remember that every body is unique and it’s about determine what works best for your body.
Remember: simple shifts build to make a big impact over time!
Healthy estrogen levels are possible for you.