Estrogen oral medication against pink background

How to increase estrogen naturally?

Medically reviewed on August 17, 2022 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


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Your body is a little like an ecosystem—each different part and process helps the rest of you thrive. Your hormones are an important part of this ecosystem, and in particular, the hormone estrogen is essential. It impacts female sexual development, menstruation, fertility, and more. [1] In males and females, estrogen supports your bones, heart, brain, and even mood.

Estrogen levels can vary during different stages of life. [1] But while some hormonal fluctuations are normal, it’s still important to maintain a healthy estrogen level for your sex and age.

If you’re struggling with low estrogen or estrogen deficiency, you’ll want to understand why your body needs this important hormone. Then, you can explore options for how to increase estrogen naturally so that you can take charge of your health and well-being.

What are the signs of low estrogen?

Maintaining healthy estrogen levels can keep many systems in your body operating at their best. If your estrogen levels become too low, you could experience related symptoms.

In women and people assigned female at birth, these symptoms may include: [1]

  • Less frequent or absent periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle bones
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Low libido
  • Mood dysregulation
  • Concentration issues
  • Abdominal weight gain

When men or people assigned male at birth have a low estrogen level, they can experience decreased sex drive, bone loss, or an increase in abdominal fat. [2]

What can cause low estrogen?

Estrogen naturally decreases as you age. [1] If you’re a female, you may start experiencing the symptoms of low estrogen as you approach menopause.

However, some females’ estrogen levels can become imbalanced during their childbearing years. Common causes of low estrogen levels include: [2]

  • Excessive exercise
  • Chronic stress
  • Eating disorders
  • Turner syndrome
  • Premature menopause (also known as primary ovarian insufficiency)
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Cancer treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy
  • Pituitary gland issues

What treatments exist for low estrogen?

If you suspect that your estrogen levels are low, you may be wondering what you can do about it.

One option is to consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with your healthcare provider. HRT is a process where you take synthetic estrogen to regulate your hormone levels artificially. HRT treatment may use hormonal patches, vaginal creams, or pills. [3]

While HRT can be an effective option for many people, it may also cause some side effects. Estrogen-related HRT has been associated with: [4]

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Bloating
  • Swelling
  • Indigestion
  • Headaches
  • Leg cramps
  • Weight gain
  • Blood clots
  • Tender breasts
  • Certain types of cancer

For this reason, people with low estrogen levels may wonder what options are available for increasing estrogen levels naturally.

How can I increase my estrogen levels naturally?

If you would rather forgo HRT at this time, you can try several options to boost your estrogen levels naturally. Some estrogen-boosting remedies can also support your overall health and wellbeing.

Here are five strategies for increasing estrogen naturally.

#1 Eat foods that contain high levels of phytoestrogens

Many foods contain plant-based estrogens, which are called phytoestrogens. [5] Phytoestrogens imitate the natural estrogens found in your body. As a result, they can bind to your body’s estrogen receptors and produce similar effects.

Phytoestrogens may not be as potent as estrogens you produce yourself or receive during HRT, but some studies suggest that they can combat certain symptoms associated with low estrogen levels. [6]

Here are a few types of foods that contain phytoestrogens:

  • Soy products – Soy products are well known for their high concentrations of phytoestrogens. [7] The phytoestrogens found in soy products are known as isoflavones. Fortunately, soy products are incredibly versatile. Some popular soy products include tofu, tempeh, edamame, miso, and soy milk. You can season tofu or tempeh in a variety of ways. You can also swap out your dairy milk or yogurt with soy alternatives.
  • Legumes – Legumes are another source of phytoestrogens. [8] Some examples of legumes include lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, peas, and mung beans. These foods are also excellent sources of plant-based protein. You can enjoy legumes as a side dish or blend them into a tasty dip.
  • Nuts and seeds – Nuts and seeds can also be a source of phytoestrogens. [8] Flax seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, and walnuts are just a few examples. The phytoestrogens found in most seeds are called lignans. You can toss some seeds onto your salad, into your smoothie, or enjoy your favorite nuts as a snack.
  • Whole grain bread – Another source of phytoestrogens is whole grain bread. [8] Whole grain bread often contains wheat, barley, oats, rye, or flax. Like nuts and seeds, these types of ingredients contain lignans. Some bread will provide more lignan phytoestrogens than others, depending on the concentration of whole grains.
  • Fruits – Certain types of fruits are known for their high phytoestrogen content. These fruits include plums, pears, apples, grapes, and berries. [8] Dried fruit, in particular, provides a significant amount of phytoestrogens. Fruit can be a convenient snack or a healthy dessert.
  • Vegetables – Some cruciferous vegetables contain phytoestrogens. These include alfalfa sprouts, cabbage, garlic, onion, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, and zucchini. [8] To incorporate more of these veggies into your diet, simply throw them into a stir-fry, roast them in the oven, or sauté them as a side dish.
  • Eggs and milk – Phytoestrogens aren’t the only type of estrogens you can consume in food. Eggs and milk may contain animal estrogen that can help you boost your estrogen levels, too. [9]

In addition to providing you with natural sources of estrogen, these foods can be healthy additions to a balanced diet.

#2 Take herbal supplements that contain phytoestrogens

Some herbal supplements may be able to help increase your estrogen levels, such as:

  • Black cohosh – Black cohosh is an herb that has historically been used in Native American traditions to treat menstrual and menopausal issues. [11]
  • Red clover – Red clover contains isoflavones, which are the same type of phytoestrogens found in soy. [19] Some research indicates that red clover supplementation may increase estrogen levels. [12]
  • Dong quai – Don quai is an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat menopause. Some research has shown that dong quai may stimulate estrogen production. [13]
  • Chasteberry – Chasteberry is another traditional treatment that may be able to help with PMS symptoms. Chasteberry contains the phytoestrogen known as apigenin. In certain doses, chasteberry has been shown to induce estrogenic effects in the body. [14]

Keep in mind that many herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA. [15] Before you start supplementing with any over the counter supplements, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider.

#3 Maintain a healthy weight

If you’re below your ideal body weight, you may have a harder time producing enough estrogen. [2] In turn, gaining some weight may help to resolve your associated symptoms.

If you have trouble gaining weight or maintaining a healthy weight through the foods you’re eating now, you may want to consult with a dietitian or other healthcare provider. They can help ensure you’re taking in all the nutrients and calories your body requires.

#4 Reduce your stress levels

If you normally experience a lot of stress, this could be a factor in your low estrogen levels. Chronic stress can impact many aspects of your health, including your hormones.

When you’re stressed, your body produces a stress hormone known as cortisol. High levels of cortisol can disrupt your estrogen production and drag down your levels. [16]

To combat this issue, you can put into practice some of the following stress management techniques: [17]

  • Exercise regularly (but not excessively)
  • Practice meditation and breathing exercises
  • Say “no” to stressful demands from others when appropriate
  • Take time out of your day for yourself
  • Speak with a professional counselor
  • Avoid consuming too much caffeine

#5 Improve your sleep schedule Sleep gives your body the rest it needs to operate at its best. Most adults need at least seven hours of high-quality sleep every night. [18] Some adults may need even more than that.

If you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night, here are a few suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): [19]

  • Establish a relaxing wind-down routine in the evening.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Wake up at the same time every morning.
  • Maintain a dark, cool, quiet sleeping environment.
  • Don’t take long naps during the day.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine starting in the afternoon.
  • Work out regularly, but don’t exercise right before bed.
  • Don’t drink too much water before going to sleep.
  • Stop eating a few hours before bedtime.

What if these natural remedies don’t work?

Implementing some of these strategies may be able to resolve your estrogen imbalance.

If you don’t notice any improvement, you may want to consult with your healthcare provider about HRT. A low-dose HRT treatment may be able to balance your hormones faster and more effectively than natural remedies.

In either case, it may benefit you to gain clarity on your hormone levels so that you can track your progress. You can conveniently do so from home with an at-home health test or your healthcare provider may order one in the office.

Everlywell: Test your estrogen levels at home today

Now that you know how to increase estrogen naturally, you may be wondering how to test your estrogen levels at home. At Everlywell, we have an easy At-Home Women's Fertility Test. This test kit can check five hormones that may impact your fertility and other health conditions, including:

  • Estradiol (a form of estrogen)
  • Luteinizing hormone
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone
  • Total testosterone

All you do is conduct a simple finger prick at home and send in your blood sample to one of our CLIA board-certified labs. Once your results are in, we’ll have one of our board-certified physicians review them.

Take your first step towards enhanced hormonal health and order your Everlywell Women’s Fertility Test today.

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How to test estrogen levels at home

What are normal estradiol levels in women?


References
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Estrogen. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Low Estrogen. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  3. MedlinePlus. Hormone Replacement Therapy. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  4. NHS. Side effects: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT). URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  5. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology. The pros and cons of phytoestrogens. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  6. NIH. Phytoestrogens and Their Health Effect. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  7. Harvard. Straight Talk About Soy. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  8. ScienceDirect. Phytoestrogens. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  9. SAGE Journals. Naturally occurring hormones in foods and potential health effects. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  10. NIH. The effects of black cohosh on the regulation of estrogen receptor (ERα) and progesterone receptor (PR) in breast cancer cells. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  11. ScienceDirect. Red Clover Extract. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  12. Frontiers. Red Clover Isoflavones Influence Estradiol Concentration, Exercise Performance, and Gut Microbiota in Female Mice. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  13. NIH. A molecular docking study of phytochemical estrogen mimics from dietary herbal supplements. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  14. NIH. Chasteberry. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  15. FDA. FDA 101: Dietary Supplements. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  16. Cleveland Clinic. Cortisol. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  17. Cleveland Clinic. 10 Ways You Can Relieve Stress Right Now. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  18. CDC. How Much Sleep Do I Need? URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  19. CDC. Tips for Better Sleep. URL. Accessed August 17, 2022.
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