Estrogen and progesterone are the primary female sex hormones that are secreted by the ovaries. Varying amounts of estrogen and progesterone are secreted during the different stages of the female reproductive cycle. In fact, the onset of puberty in females, the cyclical bodily changes that take place during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy, and even the cessation of menstruation are all dependent on the interactions between these female sex hormones. While menopause, which is the final stage of female reproductive cycle, is characterized by low estrogen levels, an estrogen deficiency in young women can be indicative of certain medical conditions. Given below is some information on what causes low estrogen levels in young women along with effective ways of treating an estrogen deficiency in young women.
Reasons for the Decline in Estrogen Levels in Young Women
Estrogen is the primary female steroid sex hormone that is secreted by the ovum producing sex glands called ovaries. It is the pituitary gland that stimulates the ovaries to secrete estrogen. A woman's ability to support a pregnancy is certainly dependent on the secretion of estrogen as well as progesterone. Given below is some information on possible causes of an estrogen deficiency in young women.
Hypogonadism: Hypogonadism is a condition wherein the sex glands may not produce hormones or may produce insignificant amounts of sex hormones. This condition is the main reason behind the delay in the onset of puberty. Hormonal imbalance, especially low estrogen levels, could be the direct result of this condition. Hormonal imbalances that result from this condition may cause menstrual irregularities and hamper the functioning of the reproductive organs.
Pituitary Gland Disorders: Since the follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone that are produced by the pituitary gland stimulate the production of estrogen, young women who are suffering from pituitary gland disorders are also likely to suffer from an estrogen deficiency.
Low Body Fat: It is believed that young women who have been diagnosed with anorexia or any other eating disorder that emerges as a contributory factor for low body weight, are most likely to have low estrogen levels. For the same reason, female athletes, who perform vigorous exercises or undergo intense training, may also suffer from hypoestrogenism.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Women suffering from medical conditions that affect the ovarian function, are also at an increased risk of developing an estrogen deficiency. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is an ovarian disorder wherein the development of multiple cysts on the ovaries affects the process of ovulation, which in turn, may make such women susceptible to infertility problems.
Premature Menopause: Primary ovarian insufficiency is another condition that is characterized by the triad of low estrogen levels, high FSH levels and cessation of menstrual periods. Since this condition affects women who are under the age of 40 years, it is also referred to as premature menopause. Women who have undergone hysterectomy are more susceptible to this condition. Those who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation to the pelvic area may also be more susceptible to low estrogen levels. Certain genetic disorders or autoimmune disorders could also be responsible for causing decreased secretion of estrogen in young women.
Treatment Options for Estrogen Deficiency in Young Women
Irregularities in menstrual cycle, fatigue, mood swings, joint pain, hair loss, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and reduced sex drive are some of the common side effects of low estrogen in women. In severe cases, an estrogen deficiency may also contribute to infertility. Since estrogen is a primary female sex hormone that is essential for reproductive processes, an estrogen deficiency must be treated at the earliest. Since estrogen levels could fall due to a wide range of reasons, diagnostic tests must be conducted in order to ascertain the underlying cause. Stress could also cause hormonal imbalance, which is why, young women with low estrogen levels must try relaxation techniques. Making right lifestyle related choices would certainly help.
In case of middle-aged women, especially those suffering from premature menopause, doctors may recommend the use of synthetic hormones or selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) medications. Since synthetic hormones can cause certain side effects, women must inform the doctors about any untoward effects. Certain herbs have also been found to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of an estrogen deficiency. Though herbs such as alfalfa, black cohosh, dong quai, dill, ginkgo biloba and thyme are believed to be helpful in correcting hormonal imbalance, you should consult a herbal practitioner regarding their effects. Women suffering from estrogen deficiency must also refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol. Following a healthy diet will certainly counter the effects of an estrogen deficiency to some extent.
This was a brief overview on the causes, symptoms and treatment of low estrogen levels in young women. While menopause is a natural process women have to go through, premature menopause is unnatural. While hormonal therapy may help in restoring the estrogen levels back to normal, use of synthetic hormones can cause certain side effects. If the side effects seem to be severe, one can check out the alternatives to hormonal therapy, and make certain lifestyle related changes in order to correct this condition.