Approximately 290,000 women die each year in the U.S. from cardiovascular disease. This makes cardiovascular disease the leading killer of women. What most don’t realize is that low estrogen could play a role in your risk for cardiovascular diseases. Women have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease during and after menopause, which may be due to declining estrogen levels in the body.
Low estrogen could put extra stress on your heart. Take care of your heart health during menopause.
Low Estrogen and Cardiovascular Risks
Estrogen plays many important roles in the body. Low estrogen during menopause can lead to symptoms that many of us know about. For example, hot flashes, mood changes, and vaginal dryness. However, declining estrogen levels can also cause other effects on your health. Some of these don’t even have symptoms like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Low estrogen levels may lead to cholesterol changes
Estrogen can help regulate cholesterol levels, which is an important part of heart health. Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood. There are good and bad types of cholesterol. However, when people say “high cholesterol,” most of them mean high bad cholesterol, which can affect your risk for cardiovascular disease. LDL cholesterol, commonly known as bad cholesterol, can start to collect and form deposits in your blood vessels, which affects how well your heart can pump blood and may increase the risk for blockages and overworking your heart. HDL cholesterol, a.k.a. good cholesterol, actually helps reduce bad cholesterol levels and makes it harder for LDL cholesterol to form deposits in your blood vessels.
Estrogen acts on the liver to help reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in your blood. Therefore, low estrogen levels can lead to high cholesterol. This can put additional stress on your heart and increase your risk for heart attack and death from heart disease. Cholesterol level screenings are important at any age, but especially after menopause when you likely have low estrogen levels. Estrogen replacement therapy may help reduce LDL cholesterol levels and help increase HDL levels for postmenopausal women.
Low estrogen affects the blood vessels
Also, low estrogen can increase your inflammatory response to cholesterol deposits in your blood vessels. This inflammation can constrict blood flow even further and increase the risk for blockages and undue stress on your heart. Low estrogen levels may also cause your heart and blood vessels to become stiffer and less elastic. This can increase your blood pressure, which can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk for stroke, heart disease, and heart failure.
Menopausal heart palpitations
Another common symptom that women experience during menopause due to low estrogen levels are heart palpitations. Lower estrogen levels can overstimulate the heart and cause arrhythmias. For most menopausal women, this is an increase in heart rate. These palpitations can be a sign of atrial fibrillation (AFib), which is irregular and rapid heartbeat due to the upper chambers of your heart beating out of rhythm with the lower chambers. AFib can increase your risk for heart complications like strokes, heart failure, and blood clots.
Estrogen levels may lead to other health effects that increase your risk for cardiovascular disease
Low estrogen can also work more insidiously to affect your heart health. Hormone changes can increase your risk for conditions that also increase your risk for cardiovascular risk. For example, low estrogen levels have been linked to increased insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a risk factor for developing diabetes. Diabetes is another risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Additionally, estrogen affects how your body distributes fat. Declining estrogen often leads to weight gain and increased visceral fat during menopause. This affects your health in many ways, one of which is putting extra stress on your heart. Therefore, estrogen also has other, more indirect impacts on your heart health. However, estrogen replacement therapy may help reduce these risks and help relieve menopause symptoms.
Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Help Reduce Cardiovascular Risk
Many researchers believe that estrogen plays a cardioprotective role in our bodies, which is why premenopausal women have less risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to men. Some studies suggest that starting estrogen replacement therapy may help reduce your cardiovascular risks. For example, one study followed women who started estrogen replacement therapy in their 50s after having a hysterectomy. That study showed that they had a reduced risk for cardiovascular death. Researchers looked at data from 10,000 women and found that the group who used estrogen replacement therapy after their hysterectomy had 12 fewer heart attacks and 13 fewer deaths over approximately 11 years.
Another study showed that women’s hormone care may also help reduce levels of atherosclerosis, which is plaque buildup in heart arteries. This plaque buildup increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions. However, the group of women who used hormone therapy reduced their risk for plaque in their arteries. For example, the hormone therapy group was 20% more likely to have a coronary calcium score of zero, which is the lowest possible score for the test that indicates atherosclerosis. Additionally, women using hormones were 36% less likely to have a score higher than 399, which indicates plaque buildup in the arteries and also a high risk for heart attacks. Therefore, estrogen replacement therapy may help reduce cardiovascular risks during menopause.
Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
There are many symptoms of heart issues that women with low estrogen shouldn’t ignore. If you notice these signs, it’s important to schedule a checkup to help with early detection:
- Heart palpitations: Heart palpitations could be a sign of atrial fibrillation.
- Shortness of breath: Unexplained shortness of breath could be a sign of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and AFib.
- Pressure in the chest: Fullness, squeezing, or even a dull pressure in your chest could be a sign of heart disease or even heart attack. If chest pressure doesn’t go away or if it goes away and comes back, it’s vital to talk to your physician.
- Headaches: While headaches could be caused by many different things, they can also be a symptom of high blood pressure.
- Achy jaw: If your jaw aches this could be a symptom of health issues and can even be a sign of a heart attack for women.
- Lightheadedness: Lightheadedness can be a symptom of many things, like heart failure, diabetes, and heart arrhythmias.
- Swelling in your feet: If your feet start swelling, this could be a sign of congestive heart failure.
- Difficulty breathing when lying flat: Once again, this could be a sign of other conditions, but it can also be a symptom of pulmonary edema, or fluid buildup in your lungs, which is often caused by heart failure.
At HerKare, we provide advanced, compassionate healthcare for women. Our goal is to help you improve your quality of life. Whether you’re suffering from low energy levels, hot flashes, or just need a plan for overall wellness, our providers are here for you. To celebrate National Cholesterol Education month, schedule an appointment to learn more about your cholesterol levels, heart health, and learn strategies to help improve your health.
Hormone replacement treatment can help with many symptoms of menopause. For example, many women seek hormone care for hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. However, another common issue you may experience during menopause is bloating. Women who experienced bloating symptoms during PMS in their pre-menopausal years are more likely to notice these symptoms during perimenopause and after. Some characteristics of bloating include uncomfortable pressure or tightness in your abdominal area and changes in abdominal size or shape. Bloating is generally due to either gas retention or water retention. Either of these can occur due to hormone imbalances. While occasional bloating is normal for people of all ages, chronic bloating can negatively impact your quality of life. Therefore, if you notice frequent bloating, make an appointment to talk to one of our physicians about your symptoms.
Hormone replacement treatment may help with bloating during and after menopause.
Why Am I Bloating During Menopause?
Bloating is different from weight gain, though many people mistake the two. The way to tell the difference is bloating often causes sudden changes or fluctuations. For example, you may notice differences throughout the day or after meals. Weight gain generally doesn’t cause such quick changes and usually requires diet and exercise to change. There are many things that can cause bloating. For instance, many people bloat from eating or drinking too quickly, chewing gum, or taking certain medications. Additionally, bloating is common for those with gastrointestinal disorders and food intolerances.
However, hormone changes can also cause bloating. This is especially true during perimenopause when your hormone levels begin to fluctuate and often become imbalanced. However, even after menopause, low hormone levels can lead to bloating. Fortunately, hormone imbalance treatment can help keep your hormone levels in healthy ranges and may assist with symptoms like bloating and hot flashes.
High Estrogen, Low Progesterone
During perimenopause, a common hormone imbalance to see is estrogen dominance. This is where your body produces more estrogen and less progesterone. Estrogen can encourage water retention, which may lead to chronic bloating. Bloating caused by water retention may be different than bloating caused by gas retention. Generally, gas retention causes bloating only in the abdominal area, while water retention can cause bloating throughout the body. A common sign of water retention bloating is your hands or feet feeling “puffy.”
High estrogen and low progesterone levels can lead to water retention and bloating. Estrogen often acts as a fluid retaining hormone, while progesterone is a natural diuretic. Therefore, when these hormones are thrown off balance, you may notice bloating. This is commonly the cause of perimenopausal bloating. There are many strategies for handling bloating due to water retention, including hormone replacement treatment when the cause is hormone fluctuations.
However, even low estrogen can cause bloating. After menopause most women will have lower levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Estrogen doesn’t just play a role in water retention; it also aids in bile production. This means that low estrogen may lead to a reduction in bile, which may lead to symptoms that cause menopausal bloating. Bile is made in the liver and helps digestion in several ways. Notably, bile helps break down fats in food and turn them into fatty acids. Bile also helps lubricate the small intestine to help soften stool and promote bowel movements. Declines in bile production due to low estrogen levels can lead to constipation and other gastrointestinal symptoms that may cause bloating. However, hormone replacement treatment can help bring estrogen levels up to healthy levels to help with menopause symptoms.
Hormone Replacement Treatment May Help Menopausal Bloating
If you’re bloating during menopause, hormone therapy may be able to help relieve your symptoms. While menopausal bloating is often confused with other conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, a common cause is simply hormone changes that naturally occur during perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. If you have bloating due to these hormone changes, hormone replacement treatment may help reduce bloating.
The aim of hormone replacement treatment is to help bring hormone levels up to healthy ranges and to help create hormonal balance. Our provider may recommend hormone imbalance treatment if your hormone levels are low or if you have too much of a hormone. Often, this may cause other symptoms in addition to bloating, such as:
- Mood changes
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
If you and your doctor decide to start hormone replacement treatment, our team offers hormone injections for fast, convenient, and advanced hormone care. Injections can help you absorb the hormones better and allow more dosage control so we can adjust your dosage to suit your needs and body.
Hormone therapy from our team also means regular monitoring to help us fine-tune your dosage. This also helps us keep track of how you’re responding to treatment and evaluate your overall health. Hormone care from our team means routine checks of your hormone levels to help personalize your treatment plan.
Lifestyle Changes Combined with Hormone Replacement Treatment
However, because we take a broad approach to healthcare, we may recommend combining hormone replacement treatment and lifestyle changes as part of your custom treatment plan. Depending on your specific circumstances, there are several changes you may be able to make to help reduce bloating. We understand that there are many factors that can influence bloating, which is why we often recommend making some healthy changes when you’re experiencing symptoms. Some of the changes we may suggest include:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Exercising regularly
- Reducing sodium intake
- Eating smaller meals
- Avoiding foods that cause gas retention, like:
- Fatty foods
- Reducing stress
Therefore, if you’ve been experiencing chronic bloating, it’s important to talk to a physician about your symptoms to help you start feeling better.
At HerKare, we provide advanced, compassionate women’s healthcare. Whether you’re experiencing uncomfortable menopause symptoms or need a general wellness checkup, our team is here to listen and provide a warm, friendly environment where you feel comfortable to discuss all your health concerns. Our goal is to help you feel your best and help you remain healthy. Therefore, we work with you to find solutions tailored to your needs and your lifestyle. Book an appointment today and let’s talk about your health and wellbeing. We are here for you.
Hormone replacement during menopause can help reduce unwanted symptoms like hot flashes, mood changes, and other symptoms that can disrupt your life. However, studies show that estrogen may also play a key role in reducing cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Keeping your cortisol levels in balance offers many benefits for your overall health. Therefore, estrogen replacement therapy may offer even more advantages for women during menopause.
Hormone replacement with estrogen may help reduce symptoms of menopause and may even help lower stress responses.
Today, people are under even more stress than ever before. Many women are at risk for these rising stressors. During menopause, changes like hot flashes, night sweats, and poor sleep can take an even bigger toll on our health by increasing stress. Many women begin a hormone replacement regimen to help reduce symptoms of menopause like hot flashes. However, estrogen may also help keep cortisol levels in control.
What is Cortisol?
Imagine you’re driving when someone suddenly swerves into your lane. If you’ve ever been in a scary situation like this, then you can thank cortisol for the rush of energy you get as you try to avoid the accident.
Cortisol has earned the nickname “the stress hormone,” as it’s responsible for the fight or flight response. It quickly increases your blood sugar so your body has quick access to energy. It also helps increase your blood pressure. This can help you get out of life-threatening situations. However, cortisol also responds to other stressors that aren’t dangerous, like meeting a deadline at work or getting stuck in a traffic jam.
However, cortisol still plays an important role in your everyday life. For example, your body normally has higher cortisol levels when you wake up and when you exercise. This hormone can help give you energy and stabilize blood pressure. The problem is, most of us are walking around with higher than normal levels of cortisol. Even worse, women tend to have higher cortisol levels than men. This can cause many issues in your body. For example, it can cause many of the same symptoms you might experience during menopause, such as:
- Increased abdominal fat
- Brain fog
- Mood changes
Hormone replacement with estrogen can often help with these symptoms and may even help with cortisol levels. This can help reduce your symptoms and help you feel better.
Estrogen Hormone Replacement and Your Cortisol Levels
So, what does estrogen hormone replacement have to do with the stress hormone? Well, studies suggest that estrogen replacement therapy may help counteract the effects of cortisol. During menopause, your estrogen levels start to decline. This may also allow cortisol levels to rise and trigger stress responses. Add that in with all the other changes happening during menopause and you have a recipe for high levels of stress.
However, recent studies show that women on hormone replacement treatments may have lower levels of cortisol and may react differently to stress. Researchers set out to determine whether estrogen has a protective quality against stress when it comes to working memory. To increase stress, researchers had some women keep their hands in a bowl of cold water for a period of time. Others put their hands in a bowl of warm water. The cold water is meant to trigger a physical stress response. Then, the women were given a test for short-term working memory.
The cold-water placebo group in the study showed elevated cortisol levels and performed worse on the test compared to the placebo warm-water group. However, the women on an estrogen hormone replacement regimen had lower levels of cortisol and also performed at the same level on the test as the warm water placebo group, even when they were exposed to the cold water stress test. Therefore, this study provides evidence that estrogen replacement therapy may play a key role in reducing cortisol and stress responses for women during and after menopause.
Benefits of Estrogen Replacement Therapy Reducing Stress Responses
High cortisol levels don’t just make you feel stressed out or cause symptoms like fatigue. Stress can have pretty major impacts on your health. Cortisol can affect your cognitive functions. Often described as “brain fog,” this might make it difficult for you to focus or remember things. High cortisol levels can also lead to high blood pressure and even lower your immune system.
In addition, high stress responses and cortisol levels can cause your body to alternate between high blood sugar and high insulin levels. Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a risk factor for many life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Therefore, high cortisol can create a lot of negative consequences.
Since estrogen hormone replacement may help reduce your free cortisol response, you may benefit from estrogen injections during and after menopause. Estrogen replacement therapy can also help reduce symptoms that may be elevating your stress levels during menopause, such as mood changes, trouble sleeping, or low sex drive. If you’re feeling overly stressed during menopause or are experiencing unwanted symptoms, consider talking to one of our physicians about treatment options to help you feel your best. Your doctor will work with you to determine the right options for your symptoms and your life to help you improve your health.
Hormone Replacement and Lifestyle Changes Can Help Reduce Stress
So, what can you do during menopause to help reduce stress and help decrease high cortisol levels? Our provider will talk with you about your options. For example, your personalized treatment plan for menopause symptoms and the stress that goes along with these changes may include lifestyle changes and hormone replacement injections.
If you’re experiencing higher stress levels, but not necessarily symptoms of menopause, then lifestyle changes may be the first course of action. Small changes like eating a balanced diet and exercising three to five days per week can help reduce cortisol levels. Also, stress reduction techniques may help you feel better and more relaxed, which can also reduce cortisol and stress responses during menopause.
However, in other cases you may need hormone replacement to help reduce symptoms and stress. For example, hot flashes and mood changes are common symptoms of hormone changes during menopause that can also cause extra stress in your life. If these are starting to disrupt your life, our provider may recommend starting on bioidentical hormones to help bring your hormone levels back into balance and help you feel better.
At HerKare, we are dedicated to women’s wellness. Our providers take the time to listen and understand what you’re experiencing. Then, we collaborate with you to design a personalized treatment plan to help you feel better, whether it involves bioidentical hormones for menopause or vitamin optimization for vitamin deficiencies. We take a holistic approach to health to help address underlying causes of your symptoms to help you feel like yourself again. Schedule an appointment online today to talk to our doctors about your symptoms. We are here for you!
When you notice changes in your period, a hormone doctor may be able to help. Short, irregular periods may indicate hormone imbalances, like low progesterone. A simple blood test can help your hormone doctor determine if you have low progesterone levels. If this is the case, they may recommend a personalized treatment option to help you get back on track and reduce your risk for more serious complications.
Your hormone doctor listens to your concerns about short or irregular periods and helps you find personalized solutions.
What Can My Hormone Doctor Do About Irregular Cycles?
Your hormones help control your periods, which is why visiting your hormone doctor may help if you notice changes in your menstrual cycle. Progesterone plays a pretty significant role in your cycles. After ovulation, when your body releases an egg for fertilization, your body begins to produce progesterone. This helps thicken the lining of your uterus to prepare for pregnancy. However, if you don’t become pregnant, then your body decreases your progesterone levels and your period begins. This part of your cycle, between ovulation and your period is called the luteal phase. This phase typically lasts between 12 and 16 days. By contrast, anything less than 11 days is considered abnormal and could be due to low progesterone levels.
However, progesterone isn’t just for pregnancy. Research shows that progesterone helps with bone health and may help you sleep better. Also, progesterone can help keep your estrogen levels in check to prevent health complications from too much estrogen. Therefore, if you notice that your periods are shorter than normal or starting to become irregular, your hormone doctor can help determine if your hormones are the cause.
If you also notice these other symptoms, you should also mention them to your hormone doctor:
- Spotting between periods
- Low libido
- Mood changes
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Frequent vaginal infections
These can all be signs of low progesterone, which can contribute to short or irregular periods.
The Role of Progesterone Replacement Therapy
If you do have low progesterone levels, your doctor may recommend progesterone replacement therapy. This treatment can help get your periods back in check, reduce symptoms, and help you feel better overall. Also, if your periods become irregular during the transition to menopause, your doctor may recommend bioidentical progesterone and estrogen to help reduce symptoms like hot flashes and mood changes to help you stay comfortable and feel great.
At HerKare, we provide advanced, personalized healthcare for women at every stage of life. We are a woman owned and managed clinic where women can feel heard and empowered to improve their health. Our physicians work with you to find treatment solutions based on your needs and lifestyle, whether you need help with diabetes management or testosterone replacement therapy. Schedule an appointment online today to address your symptoms and start an individualized treatment plan.
Low estrogen levels can leave you feeling poorly. Yet, before you are diagnosed, the confusion about why you’re suffering can be worse than dealing with your symptoms. Signs of low estrogen are often very similar to those of menopause. However, what many don’t realize is that you can be affected by low estrogen well before you enter perimenopause. Even women in their 20s and 30s may require hormone replacement therapy for many different reasons. If you suspect that you may have low estrogen levels, it’s important to see a doctor. A women’s health care provider can test your hormone levels and determine the best course of action to help you feel better.
What to look out for
Oftentimes, you may notice your mood changing before you have any physical symptoms. A few things to watch out for are unexplained irritability, depression, and mood swings. You might find that you just can’t seem to get out of bed, or even the smallest things get to you more easily than they used to. Feeling constantly tired and not being able to sleep are also clues that something isn’t quite right.
Some or all of these are typically paired with physical changes. Another sign that something is wrong is that your period becomes lighter or less frequent. Though your period may not be the most enjoyable experience, you should definitely question changes like lighter flow or irregular menstruation. Finally, you’re likely familiar with the next symptoms: hot flashes and night sweats.
Having even one of these symptoms can make life difficult. The bottom line is, if you are seeing sudden changes in your mood or body, you should visit your women’s health clinic. If you do have low estrogen, a doctor can help you find a solution to start feeling great again.
As we age, our estrogen production naturally slows down. However, in younger women, it is often caused by something else. Here are a few things that could cause low estrogen in younger women:
- Thyroid conditions
- Autoimmune conditions
Each of these issues is cause for concern on its own, so it is important that you visit a women’s health clinic if you think you are suffering from low estrogen. If you are, we can help you get the care you need, such as progesterone and estrogen replacement therapy. We will listen to everything you’re experiencing and take into account your symptoms, lifestyle, and goals to create a treatment plan for you. At the end of the day, both you and your doctor want you to feel your best.
If you are going through any of these symptoms, no matter what age you are, you should see a doctor. You shouldn’t have to give into your symptoms, and getting answers is a step toward feeling better. A physician at HerKare may be able to determine if you have a hormone imbalance and help you organize a treatment plan to keep you happy and healthy.
I will literally never forget the crash of hormones that follows the birth of a child – the Baby Blues, they say. It was day 4. My child was exactly 4 days old, and I could feel the hormones beginning to fall like a wave about to crest over me and smash me down onto the sand underneath. Only…there was nothing I could do to stop them. I couldn’t move out of the way or side step the hormones. I couldn’t take a special pill or eat a special diet to keep it from happening. That crash was coming, ready or not. And ready I was definitely not.
A hormonal imbalance and crash after the birth of a child is completely normal. Your hormones have been soaring for a solid 9 months, and even though there were some ups and downs, they mostly stayed fairly high. After the baby arrives, your body takes a few days, and then a signal is sent that tells your body to shut it down. No baby means no more high levels of hormones. The only problem is that your body doesn’t do this gradually. The hormones fall drastically, giving many women the sensation known as the baby blues.
The baby blues is the slight depression that follows the birth of a child. It’s not full on, hard core depression, but rather a negative or down feeling. Most women suffer through for a week or 2, and then the hormones begin to level out. The baby blues start to subside, and women begin to feel normal again. The important thing to remember with the baby blues is that it is normal, and for most women, it passes fairly quickly.
But, what happens when it doesn’t pass? What happens when the baby blues turn into the long term blues? When this happens, you can almost be certain that hormonal imbalances are at play. When the hormones are not in balance, it can cause a wide array of symptoms, one of which is a feeling of the blues or even full on depression. If your baby blues seem to be turning into long term depression, then your hormones are likely still imbalanced. They are not returning to normal levels as quickly as they should, and it is causing your body and mind to experience the blues.
If you find this happening to you, get help right away. The right treatment can turn hormonal depression around and stop it in its tracks. At HerKare, a treatment professional may be able to test your hormones, determine whether an imbalance is present, and get you an appropriate treatment plan. When your baby blues turn into depression, or you suspect a hormonal imbalance for any other reason, get to HerKare to let a physician help you today.