What's the difference between low estrogen and progesterone deficiency?
As a female, your sex hormones are estrogen and progesterone. Your ovaries produce most of these hormones, although your adrenal glands and adipose (fat) tissue also produce female sex hormones.
Estrogen and progesterone work together to mature your body into adulthood and regulate your menstrual cycle.
What is low estrogen?
First, let’s review what estrogen does. It’s a hormone that’s primarily made in your ovaries, although your adrenal gland and fat cells also produce estrogen.
When you reach puberty, your body increased its estrogen production, which triggered the development of female secondary sex characteristics, such as breasts, fuller hips, and pubic and armpit hair.
Estrogen also helps regulate your menstrual cycle. It controls the growth of your endometrium. If you don’t become pregnant, your estrogen levels plummet, and you get your period. If you do become pregnant, estrogen and progesterone partner up to stop ovulation during pregnancy.
Estrogen affects other body systems and processes. It’s critical to bone formation, blood clotting, and protecting the health of your pelvic organs and tissues from your vaginal wall to your urethral lining.
Estrogen also supports healthy cell generation and affects your skin, hair, and mucus membranes.
Low estrogen occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough estrogen for optimal body function and health. There are a few different types of estrogen, but the one we talk about when we talk about low estrogen is estradiol. It’s the most prevalent and most influential type of the hormone.
If you’re premenopausal, the normal range for estradiol is 30-400 pg/mL. Postmenopausal women usually have a range of 0-30 pg/mL. Many doctors follow these guidelines strictly. However, with such a vast range of what’s considered normal, it’s important to remember that normal isn’t optimal. You can experience low estrogen symptoms even if your estrogen levels are within the normal range.
With so many different roles in your body, it’s no wonder that low estrogen causes such a wide range of symptoms. Some of the most common signs of low estrogen include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal atrophy
- Painful sex
- Increased urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Irregular or absent periods
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Mood swings
- Breast tenderness
- Depression and anxiety
- Reduced concentration
Low estrogen also increases your risk of developing osteoporosis or brittle bone disease. Osteoporosis makes your bones weak and more likely to fracture.
Estrogen production can slow as you age and approach and reach menopause. However, age isn’t the only risk factor for low estrogen. You might also have low estrogen as a result of anorexia or excessive exercise.
Low-functioning pituitary gland or premature ovarian failure (early menopause) can cause low production as well. Other health issues like Turner syndrome, chronic kidney disease, and other autoimmune conditions can also interfere with your estrogen levels and function.
And, of course, since estrogen is mainly produced in your ovaries, any injuries or problems that affect these organs can also change your estrogen levels.
Many doctors dismiss signs of low estrogen as an inevitable part of aging and suggest that you change your diet. They might prescribe Premarin or antidepressants, but they won’t solve your problem.
Here at HRT Wellness, we provide customized bioidentical hormone therapy to regulate and optimize your hormone levels to meet your individual needs. Our goal is to help you feel like your best self so you can lead a healthy, active, and fulfilling life.
What is progesterone deficiency?
Progesterone deficiency occurs when your body either doesn’t produce sufficient progesterone or the organs influenced by progesterone, such as your endometrium and ovaries, don’t respond to the hormone the way they should. Progesterone deficiency contributes to fertility problems and endometriosis.
What is progesterone anyway?
Progesterone is one of the hormones that support your menstrual cycle and pregnancy. As with estrogen, your ovaries produce most of your progesterone. Your adrenal glands produce a little, and when you’re pregnant, the placenta also creates progesterone.
One of progesterone’s roles is to decrease the estrogen response of organs by decreasing the number of estrogen receptors, reducing its ability to send the hormone specific message to the cell. For example, it can reduce breast cell growth by decreasing the rate of multiplication. It also promotes a healthy cellular life cycle, allowing cells to die at a normal rate.
Progesterone also supports the production of osteoblasts, which make new bone cells as your old bone cells die off. It also increases the activity of your thyroid hormones, which regulates your metabolism and uses your fat for energy.
Your progesterone levels fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle. Before ovulation, your progesterone should be less than 0.89 ng/mL. When you ovulate, your progesterone levels skyrocket to 12 ng/mL or higher. After ovulation, if you don’t become pregnant, your progesterone levels decline again and range between 1.8-24 ng/mL.
Progesterone deficiency causes various symptoms that range in severity, including:
- Low libido
- Excessive menstruation (long-lasting and heavy bleeding)
- Pain and inflammation
- Weight gain
- Headaches and migraines
- Decreased HDL cholesterol
- Mood swings
- Nervousness and anxiety
- Weight gain
Progesterone deficiency also contributes to conditions like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and fertility problems.
Many factors contribute to progesterone deficiency, including:
- Low thyroid hormones
- Vitamin deficiency (A, B6, C, and zinc)
- Increased prolactin
- Low luteinizing hormone
- A high-fat, high-sugar diet
Additionally, any injury or disease that affects your ovaries can interfere with your progesterone production.
We offer carefully tailored bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to balance your progesterone levels and restore your health and vitality. We often combine bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for estrogen and progesterone. The two hormones work together, and if one is deficient, there’s usually a problem with the other.
If you’re concerned about your hormone health, complete our online questionnaire to start the process of evaluating your hormone health, and getting the personalized treatment you need to restore your health.
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