All month long, a woman’s body produces estrogen. If you have a “normal” menstrual cycle, then you will see fluctuations in the amount of estrogen produced, with a high during ovulation, and a low when you have your period. But, there are many other factors that play a role in a woman’s increased or decreased production of estrogen.

Estrogen is mainly produced in the ovaries (small amounts are also produced in the adrenal glands and fat tissue). Estrogen then moves through your blood and acts everywhere in your body helping with growth, maintenance, and repair of reproductive tissue, as well as influencing other body tissues and bone mass (think osteoporosis).

As a woman’s body naturally has highs and lows of estrogen levels, you might notice anything from mood or behavioural changes, oil secretions (acne), to fluctuations in sex drive. Although it is natural to see peaks and dips in estrogen throughout the cycle, let’s look at what it might feel like if your estrogen levels dip lower than your monthly usual.

Fluctuations in Estrogen: A Dip

Why would your estrogen levels fall? This question is often asked, and although there is no one certain reason, here are a few possibilities:

  • Hypogonadism
  • Hypopituitarism
  • Pregnancy failure (due to estriol)
  • Perimenopause and menopause (due to estradiol)
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Anorexia nervosa (eating disorder)
  • Extreme exercise or excessive training
  • Temporal and temporary cause: immediately after childbirth and during breastfeeding

Some of the symptoms of low estrogen levels include:

  • painful sex due to a lack of vaginal lubrication
  • an increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to a thinning of the urethra
  • irregular or absent periods
  • mood swings
  • hot flashes
  • breast tenderness
  • headaches or accentuation of pre-existing migraines
  • depression

Taken in stride, any one of these symptoms might be something you feel every now and again, but if these symptoms persist, then perhaps you suffer from low estrogen levels. A simple blood or urine test from your doctor could clarify the situation, and treatment can begin.

Fluctuations in Estrogen: A Rise

Puberty brings on a normal rise in estrogen levels. That’s because estrogen is a “chemical messenger” that helps your body develop from girl to woman. Playing a role in breast development, a more mature curved figure, and hair growth. In terms of adolescent surges in estrogen, the hormone is doing its job. But if you are already a woman (hormonally speaking), then excess estrogen (called estrogen dominance) might contribute to weight gain (or women who are extremely overweight), fibroids (non-cancerous tumors) in the ovaries, loss of sex drive, depression, and fatigue.

Estrogen and Sex

So let’s get down to the business of Sexual Wellness: Reduced estrogen levels can cause shrinkage of the vaginal mucosa. This shrinkage results in the narrowing of the vaginal opening, which is a condition called vaginal atrophy. Commonly, if the opening is narrowed, a woman might experience pain during sexual intercourse. Estrogen plays an integral role in maintaining a healthy sex life, and when it comes to staying lubricated, there are topical creams that can help. However, there are a number of other ways to treat vaginal dryness. The standard treatment today consists of applying vaginal creams or suppositories containing Estrogen. This can be very effective but the regular application of the medication can be messy and cumbersome. 

Here are two other treatments you might want to look into if you’re experiencing an underproduction of natural lubrication:

  1. Vaginal Laser Therapy (diVa) involves a renewal treatment with diVa Laser. It’s an effective solution to vaginal dryness or laxity. The laser painlessly stimulates the thickening of the mucosal layer, restoring a more youthful tone. diVa works both internally and externally to tighten skin, and restore function and appearance.
  2. The O-Shot PRP injection stimulates vaginal and clitoral tissue rejuvenation for a better overall sexual and urinary wellness. Although still a new therapy under evaluation, the early results of PRP therapy are encouraging with minimal side effects. And for many women, the results are almost immediate.

By restoring vaginal health we often see a return in libido, orgasm more easily achieved and vaginal lubrication increased, putting an end to painful intercourse.

Estrogen affects your physical, mental, and emotional health. Impacting everything from your stress levels to sex drive. It’s important that if you feel any symptoms related to a rise or fall in estrogen that you seek medical assistance; professional help may help alleviate any underlying causes. There is no reason you should feel out of sorts, we can help.

 

Dr. Steinberg

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