Low Oestrogen – Low Mood

_ Sad eye _

Over the last two week we have been looking at PMS and have discussed progesterone and androgens. This week I am going to take a look at the third hormone involved with the cycle – oestrogen. Oestrogen is very important to the proper functioning of the cycle and is very much involved with ovulation. Falling oestrogen levels could therefore mean that periods become lighter, more erratic and could even go missing for a month or so. Oestrogen also has a huge impact on the mood as it actually has natural anti depressant activity. Low oestrogen could therefore be indicated by your mood dropping suddenly during your cycle or before your period. If you suddenly feel inexplicably low, tearful or depressive – ask yourself – could you have just ovulated or are you due on – if the answer to either (or even both) of these questions is yes, your falling oestrogen levels could be at the root of it. It is often thought that dropping oestrogen levels signal that a woman could be pre menopausal, but whilst this may often be the case, these problems may also occur earlier in life as well.
As well as lighter, more erratic periods and low moods, the following issues could also indicate lower oestrogen levels being involved with your hormonal problems –vaginal discomfort– dryness, soreness and itching – without thrush, thinning skin, painful or tender joints, increased body temperature, sweats and also problems with urinary continence.
It is often suggested that when oestrogen levels are low, natural remedies which contain plant oestrogens, could offer relief from uncomfortable symptoms. We should be clear here though – plants do not actually contain any oestrogen, they actually contain substances known as isoflavones, which have a similar chemical make up to the oestrogen in your body. What this means is that taking a plant which contains isoflavones could actually ‘con’ your body into thinking that your oestrogen levels are higher than they are and therefore reduce some of the symptoms associated with low oestrogen levels. Possibly the most well known plant oestrogens are Soya Isoflavones. However, it is worth noting here not all soya products are equal. As soya needs to be fermented in order to ‘activate’ its oestrogenic action, just taking a plain soya product or eating soya rich foods, may not provide the benefits you seek.
If you want to try plant oestrogens to see if they could be helpful for you, look for a soya product which has already been fermented, such as Vogels Menosan Menopause Support. This is relevant, even if you are not menopausal, if you think you may have low oestrogen. We have had some great reports back on this product with one woman telling us that she has found it reduced this vaginal discomfort she was suffering, another telling us that it had been a ‘life saver’ as it had helped her low mood so well and another who tells us it is the only thing which has ever helped her pre menstrual sweats!


PMS – irritable, heavy bleeds

Camera tests positive
dearbarbie / Foter / CC BY-SA

Over the coming weeks I am going to be looking at hormonal issues. There are 3 main hormones that are in control of your periods and which have an impact on PMS. This week I am going to start by having a look at the most common hormonal issue for those suffering with PMS symptoms – Low progesterone. Progesterone is one of the main hormones involved in maintaining your menstrual cycle, it is also really important in female fertility and for maintaining the beginning of a pregnancy. Therefore those who suffer with the symptoms of low progesterone, could benefit in many ways from looking at ways to help balance their hormones.
As well as being important in the maintenance of your cycle, progesterone also has a major impact on your moods. Therefore low progesterone is highly likely to give you PMS with mood issues, this would include anxiety, frustration, anger, irritability, irrational behaviour and poor sleep. Your periods may also be heavier, with clots and could be painful. You may also suffer with swollen, heavier, maybe painful breasts, headaches, fluid retention and acne flare ups with your cycle…PMS-irritabl, heavy bleeds.
If this sounds like you, then low progesterone levels could well be at the bottom of your PMS issues, in which case, the following options could be well worth considering.
Many herbalists will often suggest the use of the herb Agnus Castus in these situations as it is thought to help regulate that part of the cycle where progesterone should be produced. We have been using Agnus Castus in our clinic, for many years and the feedback we have had from many of the women who have used it has been brilliant. We have had many women tell us that it has really helped them regain control of their mood and anger issues, which played a big part in their PMS. We have even had one lady tell us that she believed it had saved her marriage – because previously she had been so vile to her husband in the week before her period, she thought he was going to leave her! All of this means that this plant could well be worth a try for anyone who is struggling with PMS – irritable, heavy bleeds. However, please note that because of its potential hormonal action, Agnus Castus should NOT be used in conjunction with the pill, but if you are not on the pill, it could be worth a try.

If you are on the pill and can’t try the Agnus castus, fear not – there are great options for you too. Naturopathic Practitioners often link low progesterone with high oestrogen and talk about a condition called oestrogen dominance. This is often linked to the liver, which is responsible for breaking down and eliminating excess oestrogen. Therefore something like Milk Thistle, a product often used to supports the health of the liver and its ability to breakdown oestrogen could be helpful to help regain balance. We have used this herb for people suffering with PMS- irritable, heavy bleeds and had some great reports back.


Natural Help for Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a hormonal condition which affects a number of women. In endometriosis, the tissue which would normally grow in your womb during your cycle (endometrial tissue) has also formed outside the womb. This occurs most commonly around the ovaries, in the pelvis, around the top of the vagina and even around the bowel. During your cycle, this endometrial tissue, outside your womb also grows and thickens and is then shed. However, unlike the tissue in your womb, which leaves your body during your period, the endometrial tissue outside the womb has no way of leaving your body, so this shedding then leads to pain and swelling, which can be quite debilitating in some cases.
The development of this problem, tends to be linked to excess oestrogen, so treatment tends to focus on hormone balancing alongside pain relief.
We have seen a number of women over the years who have been looking for natural remedies to help them better control their symptoms and whilst there are never any guarantees there are a few things that could be worth considering if you are in the same boat.
Herbal remedies have been used for a number of years by women looking for natural ways to balance their hormones. One of the most popular is Agnus Castus. There have been a number of trials carried out using this plant, which have found it to be very useful in relieving the symptoms of PMS. The reason it is thought this plant could also be useful to women struggling with endometriosis is because Agnus Castus is thought to work by restoring the balance between oestrogen and progesterone – therefore potentially reducing the excess oestrogen which is linked to the development of the problem. Due to its potential hormonal action, Agnus Castus should not be taken alongside the pill or other hormonal treatments.
Another plant which may be useful is one which has typically been looked at for supporting the hormonal health of men! That is Saw Palmetto. Saw Palmetto has for years been used by men seeking natural ways to support a healthy prostate, however, new research indicates that this plant could be equally helpful to women struggling with hormonal issues. Saw Palmetto is thought to help reduce the levels of androgens, which in turn could help to reduce the problems linked with high oestrogen – certainly the research seems promising and this could well be worth a try however, again dues to its potential hormonal action, do not use it alongside the pill or other hormonal treatments.
Good Bacteria – most people these days are aware that there should be certain levels of good bacteria inside them. It is now generally accepted that these bacteria could help with bloating and bowel issues. However, these good bacteria could have a wider impact on our health and our hormones than most people expect! This is because good bacteria are actually involved in breaking down hormones like oestrogen, therefore, many practitioners of natural medicine will actually suggest that people suffering with complaints linked to high oestrogen, like endometriosis, should take a good bacteria supplement. There are many reports from women with endometriosis, which suggest that using a good bacteria supplement daily could be a good idea.
Look after your liver – like the good bacteria, your liver is also involved in breaking down oestrogen, therefore nutritional and botanical ingredients which support health liver function are often suggested for those suffering with issues related to high oestrogen. If you want to look into supporting your liver, to see if you feel any better, eat plenty of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, flax seeds, walnuts and beetroot and look at plants like dandelion, artichoke and milk thistle.