Lack of libido, vaginal dryness, hot flashes – what do all of these situations have in common? Aside from messing up with your sex life and making your life miserable, these situations mean your estrogen levels are missing in action.
Estrogen is a generic term for estrus-producing compounds, which are responsible for the development and growth of female characteristics. This includes your breasts, the regulation of menstrual cycles, pubic hair and your entire reproductive system. Estrogen also plays an essential role in producing a suitable environment, not just for fertilization but also for implantation and nutrition of the embryo.
But that’s not all. Estrogen has a direct link to your emotional well-being. This explains why any changes in your estrogen levels could affect not just your body, but also your moods. The question is, how?
1. It Affects Your Brain
Don’t worry. Changes in your estrogen levels won’t change your personality or intelligence. Aside from your reproductive system, estrogen is a key player in regulating your moods.
This means it affects your entire body, including the way your brain functions. In fact, estrogen could control your emotions.
When there is enough of a supply of estrogen in your body, your serotonin levels increase. Serotonin is a type of chemical responsible for maintaining balance in your mood, which contributes to your wellbeing and happiness. A decrease in serotonin leads to depression.
Estrogen also affects and modifies the production of endorphins, or neurotransmitters that also controls your emotions. It is also known as a feel-good chemical, so a lack of it could affect your moods.
Experts are still trying to uncover the link between estrogen and the different types of chemicals that affect your brain. However, it only shows that any changes in your estrogen levels could change your mood – in a bad way.
2. It May Be Premenstrual Syndrome
Did you know that up to 90 percent of women experience unpleasant symptoms before getting their periods? These symptoms could go on for a few days and might cause significant problems if not handled well.
This is known as premenstrual syndrome – and it’s not good. If you are looking for someone to blame, then you can pin the blame on estrogen.
The changes in your estrogen levels prior to those red days could lead to the tenderness of breasts, bloating and swelling of the feet, among others. Aside from this, estrogen also affects your moods and emotions.
3. It May Lead To Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
If you think premenstrual disorder is the worst thing that could happen to you, think again. There is a thing called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD that could affect your mood in a bad way – and its all estrogen’s fault.
PMDD is a type of condition where you will experience irritability, severe depression and tension just before your menstrual period. In other words, it is a severe form of PMS. There are physical symptoms, too, but the effects of PMDD are more in your mood.
Experts are still looking for the cause of such a condition, which affects three to nine percent of women, but they think it is all because of hormones. Estrogen levels during PMDD situations are almost normal. However, they believe that estrogen “talks” differently to certain parts of your brain, which involves your moods.
4. The After-Baby Effect Could Lead To Postpartum Depression
Giving birth is one of the best things that could happen to you. Your little bundle of joy gives you a new sense of feeling and makes all the back pain worthwhile.
After giving birth, there is one thing you need to deal with: postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is a condition that happens during the first two months after delivery. You feel irritable, angry, exhausted and anxious. You may also have trouble concentrating on tasks and may develop negative feelings such as guilt, hopelessness, sadness or helplessness. You may also loss interest in activities you enjoy and cry most of the time.
This is common nowadays and you may seek help from family and loved ones. Experts link the abrupt drop of estrogen for postpartum depression. In fact, estrogen treatment could help new moms cope with postpartum depression. However, experts have not yet fully established the link between the two.
5. You May Have Peri-menopausal And Post-menopausal Depression
You will experience a lot of changes in your body physically, mentally, and emotionally once you hit the menopausal stage.
Did you know that you have to go through two different phases besides the actual menopausal phase, at this point in your life? This is what experts call peri-menopause, which happens before the actual menopause, and post-menopause, which is after menopause happens.
These two phases have one thing in common: a drop in your estrogen levels. In fact, the levels of estrogen are erratic and unpredictable; it could go either up or down. When this happens, you will experience depression, which is what happens to up to 10 percent of women. It turns out that unstable estrogen levels could lead to depression, which explains why you are feeling down and blue most of the time.
Estrogen patches could help alleviate the symptoms of depression, especially during the peri-menopausal stage. However, hormone replacement therapy won’t be of great help at the post-menopause phase, and for most women, the depression will slowly fade in due time.
6. You Could End Up With Lots Of Hot Flashes
You already know that estrogen imbalance could affect your moods. The next time you feel like throwing a fit, at least you know its estrogen’s fault. However, changes in estrogen levels could also affect you physically, which could also lead to changes in your mood – and it’s not good.
Take the case of hot flashes. It is a classic symptom of menopause and experienced by 85 percent of women during the peri-menopausal stage.
It is a sudden sensation of heat you feel all over your body, followed by sweating and chills. Hot flashes are a result of an abnormal activity in your brain, but experts found out that it is also a hormonal thing.
When you experience episodes of hot flashes, you tend to be irritated, which could contribute to stress and anxiety. This could directly affect your mood, because you are not able to function properly due to the scorching heat you feel inside your body.
Worse yet, studies say that hot flashes could also contribute to degenerative changes in your brain. Think about arteries clogged with plaque. When you have hot flashes, the hippocampus or the center for cognition and memory is also affected. These changes could lead to memory issues and decreased mental clarity.
7. It Can Cause A Decline In Brain Processing
Estrogen affects your brain. Aside from regulating your moods and making you feel depressed when there is an imbalance, the loss of estrogen in your brain could speed up the decline in brain processing. Consequently, this affects your postural stability or the ability to maintain balance while sitting, standing, and walking, among others.
Postural stability is highly dependent on recognition of sensory input and the initiation of the corresponding physical response. When there is not enough estrogen in your body, postural stability is compromised. This could make you feel helpless and depressed. This also explains why women are three times more at risk of falling, compared to men. There is also higher risk of osteoporosis.
What does this mean? Estrogen has anti-depressive effects and any changes that disrupt the balance and could have a domino effect, not just on your brain chemistry, but also in your overall moods.
Why this happens is still a question experts are trying to solve; however, it cannot be denied that high or low levels of estrogen in your body could create an imbalance, and cause or aggravate symptoms of depression, anxiety or tension.
In fact, experts found out that women with high levels of estrogen are more prone to panic attacks and anxiety, while women with low levels are more depressed.
Estrogen therapy could help you maintain that balance. However, some feel that natural treatment is the best way to go and solve the issue. If you are one of them, here are natural ways to boost your estrogen and kick those sinking moods away.
- Maintain A Healthy Weight. Being underweight or overweight could affect your body’s ability to produce the right levels of estrogen needed by your body.
- Increase Your Soy Intake. Experts are divided on the positive effects of soy on a woman’s body. However, some believe that soy’s isoflavones could increase estrogen in your body.
- Exercise Regularly. This releases endorphins or feel good hormones, which could help alleviate symptoms of depression and other sinking moods. This also helps you feel better about yourself.
- Eat Healthy. What goes inside your body will help a lot not only in balancing estrogen in your body, but also in making you feel better.
Still, this doesn’t mean you should turn to comfort food such as chocolates and cakes to make you feel better. Stick to healthier food choices such as flaxseeds, whole grains, and leafy greens.
Still, this doesn’t mean its okay to be mad or depressed all the time and blame it on estrogen. How you handle your sinking mood is the ultimate challenge.