Estrogen and Fertility – The Good, the Bad and the Necessity

Estrogen and Fertility – The Good, the Bad and the Necessity

j04433031Estrogen is one of the most important female reproductive hormones which is produced by the developing follicles in a woman’s ovaries, as well as the corpus luteum and the placenta.

Although estrogen is present in both women and men, there is usually a higher level of estrogen in women who are of reproductive age.

Estrogen helps to create a thick endometrium as well as affecting other aspects of the menstrual cycle. In a man, estrogen helps to regulate the maturation of healthy sperm.

Estrogen Deficiency

Too little estrogen can cause headaches, hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. However a lack of estrogen can also affect infertility by preventing ovulation and not allowing the lining of the uterus to thicken enough for the fertilized eggs to implant.

An estrogen deficiency can be caused by having too little of the Luteinizing Hormone, which regulates the manufacture of estrogen. It can also be a result of the pituitary gland functioning incorrectly; such as in the case of excessive exercise, being underweight or having an eating disorder.

Estrogen can be increased in a woman’s body through medication or by supporting the endocrine system with the use of herbs and supplements.

Excess Estrogen

On the flip side, having too much estrogen can wreak havoc as well. Excessive estrogen levels can cause irregular periods, headaches, anxiety, depression, digestive issues, weight gain, and heart palpitations.

Estrogen dominance may be caused by eating a poor diet, being overweight, stress, hormone replacement therapy, as well as being exposed to environmental sources of estrogen, called xenoestrogens.

Processed foods or foods that are high in fat and sugar can actually increase estrogen levels. Not having enough magnesium and Vitamin B6 can also affect estrogen levels.

A major cause of estrogen dominance is exposure to xenoestrogens, which function by imitating regular estrogen and consequently serve as endocrine disruptors, even in small amounts. Growth hormones and pesticides that are stored inside the fat cells of poultry, fish and various other food sources are the main source of xenoestrogens.

American’s consume over a pound of pesticides unknowingly each year Yikes!. Therefore you should always try to eat as organic as possible.

Having a high level of estrogen can prevent conception through the creation of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis. Estrogen also increases the rate at which women reach reproductive maturity.

A study conducted at Vanderbilt University has shown that too much estrogen can negatively impact a woman’s fertile window and may prevent an embryo from implanting.

One of researchers, Sudhasu K. Dey, PhD, of the Division of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, explains:

“The most exciting aspect of this investigation is that a very narrow range of estrogen levels can alter embryo implantation and gene expression.”

Eating a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber is a great way to start naturally reducing estrogen. Try to limit the amount of caffeine that you drink daily and be sure to maintain regular exercise.

Another great way to naturally treat estrogen dominance is through a thorough detoxification of your body. Try to minimize your daily exposure to pollutants, pesticides and plastics.

Herbs that may help with estrogen deficiency

Maca RootMaca – Supports the endocrine system to be healthy and balanced.
Pregnancy Prep – Helps to balance the hormones.
Royal Jelly – May help to slightly increase estrogen naturally in the body.
Vitex – Supports a healthy endocrine system without containing hormones.
Soy foods – Are known to have estrogen mimicking properties within them.

Herbs and supplements that may help with estrogen dominance

DIM – Helps to take excess estrogens out of the body.
Maca – Supports the endocrine system to be healthy and balanced.
Fertility Cleanse – Supports the body in cleansing excess hormones and toxins that may mimic estrogen.
Vitex – Supports a healthy endocrine system without containing hormones.
Pregnancy Prep – Helps to balance the hormones.

References:
1. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Feb. 10, 2003, online early edition. News release, Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
2. Estrogen Affects Fertility Window. (2003, February 10). Retrieved December 7, 2009, from Web MD: webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20030210/estrogen-affects-fertility-window
3. Infertility: Estrogen Dominance. (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2009, from Shared Journey: sharedjourney.com/infertility_estrogen.html
4. Low Estrogen Levels: Can this affect ovulation? (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2009, from BabyHopes: babyhopes.com/articles/low-estrogen-levels-can-this-affect-ovulation.html