Does Low Estrogen in Women Impact Muscle Mass and Performance?
The hormone estradiol (E2) is produced naturally by women during their menstrual cycle. Estradiol affects many functions of the human body including bone density, fat distribution, metabolism, immune function, reproductive system and brain activity.
Estrogens are essential for normal growth and development of all tissues throughout life. When levels of estrogens drop too low, it causes problems such as:
Decreased bone density
Loss of muscle mass
Lower energy levels due to decreased physical activity level
Depression and anxiety
Low estrogen levels have been linked with osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and mood disorders.
High estrogen levels may increase risk of developing depression, anxiety, obesity and other health issues. High estrogen levels have been associated with increased risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and mood disorders.
While there is no evidence that estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) increases your risk for any of these conditions, it’s still wise to speak with your doctor before starting or continuing treatment if you’re concerned about your health.
It is normal during menopause for estrogen levels to fluctuate and decrease over time. This can lead to a loss of muscle mass, weakness, fatigue and weight gain. While menopause can be a difficult time for many women, there are ways you can manage the symptoms.
“Menopause in itself is not a disease process. It’s a natural transition phase in a woman’s life,” said Jennifer Lahl, M.D. “It is a time when estrogen levels drop and progesterone levels drop.
But it doesn’t have to be a difficult process.”
Here are some tips from Lahl on how women can maintain a healthy lifestyle during menopause:
Stay physically active
While you may experience some stiffness or soreness during menopause, staying active and exercising can help alleviate some of the symptoms.
“Exercise keeps your bones strong. That’s important because menopause causes the bones to become more brittle,” she said. “It also decreases your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”
Maintain a healthy weight
Weight gain is common during menopause because the body naturally gains muscle mass and fat mass as you age. Lahl recommends watching your diet and limiting alcohol consumption to avoid gaining too much weight.
“If you’re gaining more than five pounds per year, then you need to do something about it,” she said. “There is some evidence that soy may help with weight loss in some women.”
Manage stress levels
During menopause, your body is under a lot of physical and emotional stress due to changing hormones. Practicing meditation, deep breathing exercises or yoga may help decrease your levels of stress and promote an overall sense of well-being.
“Stress is really hard on the body. It can cause a lot of problems including weight gain, digestive issues and muscle pain,” she said. “Managing your stress levels can help you move past menopause and live a long and healthy life.”
Use estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) if needed
If your doctor recommends it, there are ways to restore estrogen levels to more youthful amounts through the use of ERT. This can help reduce some of the issues and complications that come with menopause.
“This is really important for women who have had surgical removal of their ovaries or womb because the body no longer has a natural way to make estrogen,” she said. “ERT can help prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, loss of muscle mass and even some types of cancer.”
ERT is not appropriate for everyone. Your doctor can help you decide if this is the right option for you.
Talk to your doctor
Menopause can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. Lahl says it’s important to talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions you may have during menopause.
“It’s very important for women to stay connected to their physicians, especially during menopause, because there are so many changes going on,” she said. “A good doctor can help guide you through this and make recommendations to help you manage your health.”
Who is Jennifer Lahl, M.D.?
Jennifer Lahl, M.D., is board certified in Family Medicine and trained at the University of Minnesota Medical School. She completed her residency in Family Medicine at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill.
She is currently practicing medicine at Centegra Health System in Woodstock serving patients in the McHenry county area and Fox River Valley.
Jennifer enjoys all aspects of family medicine, but has a special interest in obstetrics. She also volunteers her time to teach high school students about health careers. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, reading, running and traveling.
Jennifer Lahl, M.D., is an Obstetrics & Gynecology (OBGYN) physician with Centegra Health System in Woodstock, serving patients in McHenry and the surrounding counties.
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Disclaimer: The medical information on this site is provided as an educational service. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor for treatment options concerning any medical conditions you may have.
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