Low estrogen can cause your period to become irregular or stop altogether. You may also have symptoms including hot flashes. Treatment may depend on the underlying cause.

Estrogen is a hormone that plays an important role in several aspects of your health.

Even though we commonly associate estrogen with the female body, men also produce estrogen, but in lower amounts.

The hormone estrogen is:

  • responsible for the sexual development of girls when they reach puberty
  • involved in the development of follicles/eggs and ovulation
  • involved in controlling the growth of the uterine lining during the menstrual cycle and at the beginning of a pregnancy
  • involved in causing breast changes in teenagers and women who are pregnant
  • involved in bone and cholesterol metabolism
  • involved in regulating food intake, body weight, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity

Girls who have not reached puberty and women approaching menopause are most likely to experience low estrogen. Still, women of all ages can develop low estrogen.

Common symptoms of low estrogen include:

You may also find that your bones fracture or break more easily. This may be due to a decrease in bone density. Estrogen works along with calcium, vitamin D, and other minerals to keep your bones strong. If your estrogen levels are low, you may experience decreased bone density.

If left untreated, low estrogen may have links to infertility in women.

Ovaries primarily produce estrogen. Anything that affects the ovaries will affect estrogen production.

Young women may experience low levels of estrogen due to:

In women over 40 years old, low estrogen can be a sign of approaching menopause. This time of transition is called perimenopause.

During perimenopause, your ovaries still produce estrogen. However, production will continue to slow down until you reach menopause.

Additional information: What can cause bleeding after sex?

The most common risk factors for low estrogen levels include:

Diagnosis and treatment of low estrogen can help prevent many health issues.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of low estrogen, talk with your doctor. They can assess your symptoms and make a diagnosis. Early diagnosis may help prevent further complications.

Your doctor will likely discuss your family health history and assess your symptoms. They’ll also perform a physical exam. Based on your history and physical exam, they will decide whether you need blood tests or hormone tests for accurate diagnosis.

If your doctor suspects that your estrogen is low, they may order tests to check your follicle-stimulating hormone levels and other hormones.

In some cases, your doctor may order a pituitary hormone test to check any medical conditions affecting the endocrine system. If your pituitary hormones are atypical without a clear explanation, they may order a follow-up brain scan.

Women with low estrogen levels may benefit from hormonal treatment. Hormone therapy (HT) is the standard treatment for low estrogen. Nonhormonal options are also available to help relieve symptoms. Doctors prefer prescribing nonhormonal options for women who are at high risk of breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, or liver disease.

HT helps replenish low hormone levels. Your doctor may recommend HT if you’re approaching menopause or in perimenopause.

Your estrogen and progesterone levels usually decrease with age. The levels drop more dramatically in menopause. HT can help treat the symptoms that have an association with low hormone levels.

In this therapy, your doctor can administer hormones:

  • topically
  • orally
  • vaginally
  • via injection

Your doctor can adjust the dosage, length, and combination of hormones in HT. For example, depending on the diagnosis, they will recommend progesterone if a woman still has her uterus. But they do not recommend it if she’s had a hysterectomy.

If you are experiencing symptoms indicating low estrogen, talk with your doctor about it. Based on your medical risk factors and symptoms, your doctor can help suggest treatment options. They’ll also discuss the risks and benefits of those options.

Doctors generally prescribe estrogen to women between ages 25 and 50 years with low estrogen levels.

This can help reduce the risk of:

  • bone loss
  • cardiovascular disease
  • other hormonal imbalances

In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urged women to take the lowest possible dose of estrogen for the shortest amount of time. Since then, doctors generally do not prescribe high doses anymore.

The dose depends on the severity of the condition and the method of application.

There are several ways in which you can take, apply, or administer estrogen:

  • orally
  • topically
  • vaginally
  • via injection

Estrogen therapy may ease the severity of menopausal symptoms and reduce your risk of fractures.

Doctors recommend estrogen therapy only for about 1–2 years. This is because estrogen therapy may increase your risk of cancer.

Check out: Dealing with early menopause.

Sex hormones, such as estrogen, affect the amount of body fat. Estrogen regulates glucose and lipid metabolism. If you have low estrogen, it can lead to weight gain.

Research suggests a probable reason why women approaching menopause are likely to have overweight. Having overweight can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

If you have low estrogen levels and you are concerned it’s affecting your weight, speaking with your doctor can be helpful. They can assess your symptoms and advise you on the next steps. They can discuss developing a personalized eating plan and help stay physically active. Eating a balanced diet and staying physically active as often as possible is helpful in maintaining a moderate weight.

Hormones, such as estrogen, play a key role in your overall health. Age, certain diseases, or inherited disorders can lead to estrogen level dropping.

Low estrogen levels can cause irregularities in sexual development and sexual functions. They can also increase your risk of obesity, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases.

Treatments have evolved and become more effective over the years. Determining what’s causing your low estrogen levels, symptoms, and risk factors can help a healthcare professional create the best treatment plan. Your treatment plan involves setting the right dosage and duration of the treatment.

Read this article in Spanish.