3

votes

raising estrogen levels

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 01, 2010 at 12:04 PM

I don't menstruate-- went off birth control June 2009. Had one period in September, nothing since then. I am 24. Had been on birth control on and off since i was a teenager, maybe 15, because i stopped having periods and the doctor prescribed it. Up until February, I ate an very low fat diet and exercised, well, a lot. When I was a teenager I restricted my calories and also at a very low fat diet.

I got some blood test results today. My estradiol is 21 pg/mL, which is lower than it should be for a woman who has not gone through menopause. FSH and everything else tested was in the normal range.

I have been eating paleo since February. I suspect my hormones are off-balance because of the years of eating extremely low fat, high sugar. I am also quite tall and thin, 5 foot 8 and less than or around 120 pounds, I lost maybe 4 or 5 pounds since I went paleo but don't restrict calories. I don't know my percent body fat.

Also have low blood pressure, don't know if that's relevant, just thought I'd include all the info I could.

My question is, how can I raise my estrogen levels, to start a normal cycle and be able to get pregnant? Will my hormones eventually work themselves out now that I'm eating well? I am quite skeptical of taking more synthetic hormones (clomid, progesterone), but I also want to be able to have a child! Is there anything else I can do? Do I just need to be patient?

76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on October 23, 2012
at 07:38 PM

Heather, I had the same experience as you with my doctor not even telling me about my estradiol being <15 ("your labs are normal") do you have any other advice or details about how you got your cycle back? I haven't had one in 10 months and it's scary

A836f6702c90352ca12130cd734a7ac3

(-2)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:29 PM

anyway, another question i had was, did you use any progesterone/estrogen cream, supplements, eat soy, etc? or did you just do it all naturale with good foods? sorry for all the info and questions... i'm just pretty desperate at this point. not to mention, i was diagnosed with osteopenia a few months ago after finding out a had a stress reaction in my lower leg so i've really got to figure this out. thanks for your help! god bless.

A836f6702c90352ca12130cd734a7ac3

(-2)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:28 PM

congratulations on your baby, that is so exciting! if you dont mind me asking, how long did it take for you guys to get pregnant? we've finally got the money to see a rep endoc - since i havnt had my period we did one round of injections and i got a chemical pregnancy, miscarried, and they said i could go again. since my insurance only covers up to a certain amount and i'm not mensturating on my own, i'm taking a break from the rep endoc stuff and trying to get myself together physically and mentally first, because i'm sure i'll just keep having recurring miscarriages.

A836f6702c90352ca12130cd734a7ac3

(-2)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:28 PM

thanks so much for the info! i feel like i've been doing this for a while (on and off), but i never seem to hang on long enough to see if it will kick in or not. i end up giving up and going back to crazy diets, etc. i've recently moved again and am not able to get back to the same doctor, plus, i know what she's going to tell me anyway. concerning exercising, what did you do, stop, start, etc? like i said in my previous post, i used to run (not like a marathoner or anything), but i would run every other day for at least 3 miles. i've stopped this and i just walk and do weights a few days.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:13 PM

...binge eating, etc.) what worked for me was Whole30. Its "extreme," but you can do it, especially with support from husband/friends/etc. I just did it, and wish I had sooner! (Still battled with sweet tooth, paleo & non paleo binges, etc). However, I think the most important thing is lots of healthy fats, plenty of nutrients, and patience. There are also some herbs that are supposed to help regulate cycles, like chasteberry. Is there anyway you could see the natropathic dr again? Hope this helps... at least for encouragement!

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:10 PM

...calories from fat) avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and animal fat (I now eat naturally raised meat but didn't then). I've tried the Maker's diet too, but feel better on Paleo. Right before I got pregnant, I was super-"nutrient loading," with vegetables juice every morning (don't know if I would do this now, for blood sugar reasons), large raw veg salad with salmon for lunch, liver at least once a week (grass fed). Don't know if that helped or not. Don't be discouraged! Changes like this take a lot of time. For getting eating "under control" (taming sweet tooth, stopping ...

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:04 PM

Hi Adennison. Been so long since I posted this. I now have a BEAUTIFUL 11 month old baby girl. I'm certainly not an expert but I can at least share from my experience. First of all, my period didn't come until 6-7 mo of eating paleo, longer than I hoped. Then cycles were irregular, but about 6 mo later I was pregnant. I should also say, my "paleo" at this time was less than perfect, with lots of dairy and frequent non paleo splurges. But still a big change from my previous super low fat diet. I attribute most of my success to eating LOTS of healthy fats (pretty consistently 50-60%...

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:00 PM

Hi Adennison. Been so long since I posted this. I now have a BEAUTIFUL 11 month old baby girl. I'm certainly not an expert but I can at least share from my experience. I think I'll post below to not have the character limit.

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on October 02, 2012
at 03:15 AM

I wish you luck here. If a nutritious, whole food lifestyle gives you the health you desire and need, even including "non-paleo" foods, I really don't think there's any reason to exclude them. Some people do not find perfect health on paleo. There are often things "allowed" in paleo that hurt specific people, and things that are "non-paleo" that are either benign or even beneficial for others. I look at paleo as a tool/template to help you find what works best for you.

76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on October 02, 2012
at 01:01 AM

hey there, I am in a similar boat as you and just want to wish you good luck

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on March 23, 2011
at 12:42 AM

Just saw your post that you're pregnant too! congratulations!

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on March 23, 2011
at 12:39 AM

Do you have any advice on the pregnancy diet?

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on March 23, 2011
at 12:39 AM

Yes, actually-- after about 6 months of eating mostly paleo, I had a period, then i had one 3 months later, 38 days later, 33 days later, and now i'm 9 weeks pregnant! i gained about 8lbs, eating a little more carbs (but sill high fat, as natural as possible) and less intense exercise, and i've gained 3-4 more since getting pregnant. unfortunately i'm having trouble eating paleo now. I'm mildly queasy a lot and craving carbs, but trying to stick to things like oatmeal with whole raw milk and nuts. I'm not sure if I should force myself to eat paleo or follow my feelings.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on March 22, 2011
at 01:27 AM

Heather - do you have any update?

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on June 03, 2010
at 07:42 AM

Melissa, thanks for you insight. I've read some of your blog-- i find your women's health posts especially helpful. I'll try to increase iodine, is there any way to do this other than with iodized salt? (my salt is currently uniodized). I think it would be hard for me too to increase calories (without completely ignoring paleo principles... then its pretty easy) but being more liberal with carbs and/or fat might work

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on June 03, 2010
at 07:37 AM

My doctor told told me that there was nothing wrong with my blood test results, and it was only when I asked for a copy and looked at them myself later that I saw that my estradiol levels were in the post-menopausal range!! So, time for a new doctor I think.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on June 03, 2010
at 07:35 AM

Thanks for your answer Matthew! i didn't mention in my post that several months before starting to eat paleo, i had intentionally gained about 5 pounds, to see if that would jump-start a cycle. So those were the lbs I lost when I started eating paleo. I've been the same weight +/- a few pounds (well, actually I'm at the low end now) well... since puberty 10 years ago I'd say. I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full, lots of fat. The only times I seem to gain a little weight is when I am liberal with non-paleo foods.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on June 02, 2010
at 11:28 AM

Jae, thanks for your answer. Agreed about the doctors. I'm getting ready to move, actually, so I'll have to try to find a good doctor at my new location. I'll edit my question with more details...

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on June 02, 2010
at 11:09 AM

yes, but not intensely. walking, some light swimming and biking sometimes. i try to lift weights, but am inconsistent about that.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 01, 2010
at 06:09 PM

Do you still exercise?

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on June 01, 2010
at 12:35 PM

How tall are you and how much do you weigh now?

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6 Answers

4
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 01, 2010
at 06:14 PM

N-thing talking to a doctor. I would wonder if the low blood pressure is a factor. I was struggling with that for awhile and the solution I worked out was to 1. Increase iodine intake 2. Increase calorie and carb intake. Increasing calories was HARD for me. I had to count calories in order to get more. 3. Gain a little weight 4. Exercise, but low intensity- walking instead of running for example 5. Increase the ratio of fat to protein in your diet.

"Women menstruate in order to release that toxin out of our bodies, and it is essential that we do so for optimal health." I would check out Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives. Hunter-gatherers do menstruate, but it has nothing to do with "toxins."

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on June 03, 2010
at 07:42 AM

Melissa, thanks for you insight. I've read some of your blog-- i find your women's health posts especially helpful. I'll try to increase iodine, is there any way to do this other than with iodized salt? (my salt is currently uniodized). I think it would be hard for me too to increase calories (without completely ignoring paleo principles... then its pretty easy) but being more liberal with carbs and/or fat might work

2
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on June 01, 2010
at 05:15 PM

Firstly I will assume you have talked to your doctor about this and they do not think there is any medical reason for the amenorrhea (lack of menstruation). I am not a doctor, this is just advice:

The most likely reason is to much exercise and not enough calories, which you state is the case in the past. If you weigh 120 lbs at 5 foot 8 inches you are quite skinny and most likely have a low level of body fat. Also this can be seen from your picture. Your body mass index is only 18, meaning you are slightly underweight. http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Healthyweightcalculator.aspx There are drawbacks with the BMI calculation but it can be a useful guide.

You say that you have lost 5 pounds since changing the way you eat. This indicates that you have reduced your calorie intake further, even if unintentionally. Paleo foods can be filling especially if you are used to eating a low calorie diet for years.

The simplest thing to try is eating more. Do not restrict the foods you are eating and do not limit the times you are eating, such as intermittent fasting. Increase your calorie intake until you begin gaining some weight. Eat a good variety of foods. Fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

Moderate your exercise, there is no reason to stop altogether.

If you increase the calories you eat and gain some weight over time it is possible that you will fix the problem.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on June 03, 2010
at 07:35 AM

Thanks for your answer Matthew! i didn't mention in my post that several months before starting to eat paleo, i had intentionally gained about 5 pounds, to see if that would jump-start a cycle. So those were the lbs I lost when I started eating paleo. I've been the same weight +/- a few pounds (well, actually I'm at the low end now) well... since puberty 10 years ago I'd say. I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full, lots of fat. The only times I seem to gain a little weight is when I am liberal with non-paleo foods.

1
9b06a36116b91415492cb46d5c145ac4

on June 01, 2010
at 06:09 PM

i had the same problems after going off the pill i had about 2 years of irregular cycles(like once i went 10 months with out a period) I think one of the most helpful thing i did, besides eating a high fat diet, was using medicianl herbs to make teas. i really like a combo of dong qui, fo-ti, licorice root, saspharella, and resihi mushroom. the licorice and the saspharella are pretty tasty and i usually like to add cinnamon bark. ever since i starting using these herbs regulary my cycle started to regulate. first every 3 months then every other month and now i'm on pretty perfect 28 day cylce. now i rarely use them, usually only around my period for extra hormonal support.

Mounatin Rose Herbs has all of these and really good prices. check it out, it worked for me.

i also used to be a vegan and i definatly think eating paleo helps, fertile bodies need animal fat!!! so the more fat the better.

0
77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on June 01, 2010
at 02:53 PM

I think Stephanie is right, you should consult your doctor. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to find a doctor who is interested in finding a real solution that will make you healthier, rather than just dosing you with a prescription that will make your symptoms go away.

You may just need to be patient, as it hasn't been all that long since you started eating more fat.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind. If you tell us more about the following, you may get more insightful answers.

  • how much exercise you get, and what kind of exercise (lift weights? sprints? long-distance runs?)
  • how much sleep you get
  • amount of stress in your life
  • exactly what you are eating these days (post a food log for 3 straight days; weighing and measuring is not necessary, but a rough estimate can be helpful)

Basically, you might give it more time + less exercise + more sleep + more food (or better food, or more fat, etc.) and see how it goes.

Hopefully some of the more scientifically and medically knowledgeable folks will chime in here and give you specific suggestions, too.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on June 02, 2010
at 11:28 AM

Jae, thanks for your answer. Agreed about the doctors. I'm getting ready to move, actually, so I'll have to try to find a good doctor at my new location. I'll edit my question with more details...

-1
A836f6702c90352ca12130cd734a7ac3

on October 01, 2012
at 11:10 PM

hi, this message is specifically for Heather (or any other lady who has dealt with the same issues)... but, i'm basically currently in the same boat. i'm 5'7 and currently weigh aroud 120 (i'm guessing - i dont weigh myself anymore). i grew up always having normal periods, very active in sports, and eating a well-balanced diet. i gained a lot of weight in college (up to around 180) and over the course of 2-3 years slowly and healthfully got back down to my normal weight of around 128-130 by using portion control and just making smarter choices. at this time i started taking bc because i was about to get married and i had very increasingly painful periods. about 4 years ago my parents got a divorce, i got married, moved to a new state, start working and school (my husband too) and thought it would be cool to be a vegetarian. i cut out fat completely, ate a ton of wheat bran, veggies, fruit, etc. and began running around 3x/week, up to 6 miles each time. i got off bc a few years ago (around this same time) and had about 2-3 inconsistent periods and then they just stopped. since then i've had the same issues with food/exercise, but last year was advised by a holistic doctor to try the maker's diet (whole foods, even wheat, grains, etc.) i did this for 3 months, gained some weight, and used progesterone cream and boom, my period came on the exact day it was supposed to. however, i had an appt with my ob the following week, and she said the prog cream was a scam and holist docs were nuts. she put me on provera/femeara (can't remember which one) bc i wanted to get pregnant. i bled the first round, not the second round, and then she referred me to a rep endocronologist. at the time we didnt have the money to do that so i got super depressed, fell back into exercising, eating unhealthy, and getting really down on myself. i've been labled as "having one foot in the pcos category" (though i have no symptoms of it at all), and the "other foot in the hypothalamic amenorrhea category." i've been on and off paleo for the past 3-4 months, hoping it would bring about my period, but no luck. from my blood work i have very low estrogen, also no sx drive, and constantly focused on food. i've havn't run in almost a month and all i do now is walk and weights 3-4 days a week. i feel like i know the answer to my own problem (gain weight), but i guess i just need some help talking thru it from those who've been there. since the "maker's diet" is about the only thing that worked for me that one time, i've added back in oatmeal, potatoes, sweet pot, lots of bananas, and just trying to look at food from a different angle. i dont want it to control me, i just want to be normal, even if that means not 100% paleo. i would be truly blessed and grateful from any advice, tips, etc. thanks for reading my story.

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on October 02, 2012
at 03:15 AM

I wish you luck here. If a nutritious, whole food lifestyle gives you the health you desire and need, even including "non-paleo" foods, I really don't think there's any reason to exclude them. Some people do not find perfect health on paleo. There are often things "allowed" in paleo that hurt specific people, and things that are "non-paleo" that are either benign or even beneficial for others. I look at paleo as a tool/template to help you find what works best for you.

A836f6702c90352ca12130cd734a7ac3

(-2)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:28 PM

thanks so much for the info! i feel like i've been doing this for a while (on and off), but i never seem to hang on long enough to see if it will kick in or not. i end up giving up and going back to crazy diets, etc. i've recently moved again and am not able to get back to the same doctor, plus, i know what she's going to tell me anyway. concerning exercising, what did you do, stop, start, etc? like i said in my previous post, i used to run (not like a marathoner or anything), but i would run every other day for at least 3 miles. i've stopped this and i just walk and do weights a few days.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:00 PM

Hi Adennison. Been so long since I posted this. I now have a BEAUTIFUL 11 month old baby girl. I'm certainly not an expert but I can at least share from my experience. I think I'll post below to not have the character limit.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:04 PM

Hi Adennison. Been so long since I posted this. I now have a BEAUTIFUL 11 month old baby girl. I'm certainly not an expert but I can at least share from my experience. First of all, my period didn't come until 6-7 mo of eating paleo, longer than I hoped. Then cycles were irregular, but about 6 mo later I was pregnant. I should also say, my "paleo" at this time was less than perfect, with lots of dairy and frequent non paleo splurges. But still a big change from my previous super low fat diet. I attribute most of my success to eating LOTS of healthy fats (pretty consistently 50-60%...

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:10 PM

...calories from fat) avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and animal fat (I now eat naturally raised meat but didn't then). I've tried the Maker's diet too, but feel better on Paleo. Right before I got pregnant, I was super-"nutrient loading," with vegetables juice every morning (don't know if I would do this now, for blood sugar reasons), large raw veg salad with salmon for lunch, liver at least once a week (grass fed). Don't know if that helped or not. Don't be discouraged! Changes like this take a lot of time. For getting eating "under control" (taming sweet tooth, stopping ...

76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on October 02, 2012
at 01:01 AM

hey there, I am in a similar boat as you and just want to wish you good luck

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:13 PM

...binge eating, etc.) what worked for me was Whole30. Its "extreme," but you can do it, especially with support from husband/friends/etc. I just did it, and wish I had sooner! (Still battled with sweet tooth, paleo & non paleo binges, etc). However, I think the most important thing is lots of healthy fats, plenty of nutrients, and patience. There are also some herbs that are supposed to help regulate cycles, like chasteberry. Is there anyway you could see the natropathic dr again? Hope this helps... at least for encouragement!

A836f6702c90352ca12130cd734a7ac3

(-2)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:29 PM

anyway, another question i had was, did you use any progesterone/estrogen cream, supplements, eat soy, etc? or did you just do it all naturale with good foods? sorry for all the info and questions... i'm just pretty desperate at this point. not to mention, i was diagnosed with osteopenia a few months ago after finding out a had a stress reaction in my lower leg so i've really got to figure this out. thanks for your help! god bless.

A836f6702c90352ca12130cd734a7ac3

(-2)

on October 02, 2012
at 12:28 PM

congratulations on your baby, that is so exciting! if you dont mind me asking, how long did it take for you guys to get pregnant? we've finally got the money to see a rep endoc - since i havnt had my period we did one round of injections and i got a chemical pregnancy, miscarried, and they said i could go again. since my insurance only covers up to a certain amount and i'm not mensturating on my own, i'm taking a break from the rep endoc stuff and trying to get myself together physically and mentally first, because i'm sure i'll just keep having recurring miscarriages.

-1
04ab3e74f554b014d6f1e1d77547a76d

on June 01, 2010
at 12:16 PM

To be honest with you, since approximately 2007, the same thing has occurred in my end as well. After meeting with a doctor to check things out, he has told me that people who work out hard and lift heavy weights, this could be the result. However, I am not a professional athlete either. Women menstruate in order to release that toxin out of our bodies, and it is essential that we do so for optimal health. I am currently on estrogen pill in order to produce this essential cycle. If I were you, I would highly consider consulting your doctor as soon as possible. I am not on birth control either, and stopped 2 years ago, which could play a huge factor in why this is happening, but my doctor explained to me the importance of our cycle, and in reality, we need to. I took the pills 10days a month, after 2 months, the third cycle came naturally. He is aware that I don't like to put things in my body that are unnecessary and not natural, however, a menstruation is essential, and there are things that I just have to get on track. Please, go consult your doctor.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on June 03, 2010
at 07:37 AM

My doctor told told me that there was nothing wrong with my blood test results, and it was only when I asked for a copy and looked at them myself later that I saw that my estradiol levels were in the post-menopausal range!! So, time for a new doctor I think.

76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on October 23, 2012
at 07:38 PM

Heather, I had the same experience as you with my doctor not even telling me about my estradiol being <15 ("your labs are normal") do you have any other advice or details about how you got your cycle back? I haven't had one in 10 months and it's scary

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