Estrogen and progesterone are two major sex hormones in the human body. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for sex characteristics and reproductive abilities in women. Progesterone is the hormone that plays a supporting role in the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
When you have low levels of estrogen and progesterone, such as during menopause, it can negatively affect your mood, sexual desire, bone health, and more.
In this article, we will explore 12 ways to naturally boost estrogen in your body, as well as when it’s time to see a doctor for low estrogen. Many of these remedies either directly support the creation of estrogen or replicate the activity of estrogen in the body.
In one study on soy and those with breast cancer, researchers found that a higher soy intake was linked to a lower risk of breast cancer death. This may be due to the estrogen-like benefits of phytoestrogens.
2. Flax seeds
Flax seeds also contain high amounts of phytoestrogens. The primary phytoestrogens in flax are called lignans, which are beneficial in estrogen metabolism.
One animal study from 2017 demonstrated that a flaxseed-rich diet was able to reduce ovarian cancer severity and frequency in hens. More human research is still needed.
3. Sesame seeds
The researchers found that a 2-month diet supplemented with these oils was able to improve bone health markers. This research suggests a positive estrogen-like effect of both sesame and soy seeds, although further human research is needed.
4. B vitamins
B vitamins play an important role in the creation and activation of estrogen in the body. Low levels of these vitamins can lead to reduced levels of estrogen.
In one study, researchers compared levels of certain B vitamins to breast cancer risk in premenopausal women. Results indicated that higher levels of vitamins B-2 and B-6 were associated with a lower risk of breast cancer, which may be due to the impact of these vitamins on estrogen metabolism.
5. Vitamin D
The link between these hormones is due to the role that vitamin D plays in estrogen synthesis. This indicates a potential benefit of vitamin D supplementation in low estrogen levels.
Boron is a trace mineral that has a variety of roles in the body. It’s been researched for its positive benefits on reducing the risk of certain types of cancer. Boron is also necessary for the metabolism of the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen.
Researchers believe that boron influences estrogen receptors by allowing the body to more easily use the estrogen available.
DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a naturally occurring hormone that can be converted to estrogen and testosterone. Within the body, DHEA is first converted to androgens and then further converted to estrogens.
One study also found that DHEA may be able to provide similar benefits in the body as estrogen.
8. Black cohosh
Black cohosh is a traditional Native American herb that has historically been used to treat a variety of conditions, including menopause and menstrual issues.
Researchers believe that black cohosh also contains certain compounds that stimulate estrogen receptors. Although more research is still needed, this may suggest a possible benefit of black cohosh supplements when estrogen is low.
Chasteberry is a traditional herbal treatment that’s most well known for its use in gynecological conditions, such as PMS.
In one study, researchers reviewed the available literature for the Vitex species, which includes chasteberry. They found that it was able to exhibit estrogenic effects at the dosages of 0.6 and 1.2 grams/kilogram of body weight.
These benefits most likely come from a phytoestrogen in chasteberry called apigenin.
10. Evening primrose oil
Evening primrose oil (EPO) is a traditional herbal remedy that contains high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, making it a popular supplement for conditions such as PMS and menopause. There’s very little recent research on the benefits of evening primrose oil for estrogen.
However, one study found that of over 2,200 women that used EPO after discontinuing hormone replacement therapy, 889 reported EPO as useful for controlling the symptoms of low estrogen with menopause.
11. Red clover
Red clover is an herbal supplement that contains a handful of plant compounds called isoflavones that may act like estrogen in the body. These isoflavones include:
- biochanin A
One review study examined the impact of red clover on hot flashes and hormone levels in women. The researchers found four studies that showed a significant increase in estrogen levels with red clover supplements.
12. Dong quai
Dong quai is a traditional Chinese medicine commonly taken for the symptoms of menopause. Like the other herbal supplements above, dong quai contains compounds that function as phytoestrogens.
In one study, researchers examined the possible estrogenic compounds in 17 popular herbal supplements. They found two possible compounds in dong quai that exhibit estrogenic activity.
In many cases, if you have low estrogen you might also have low progesterone. This is especially common during menopause, when most of the female hormones drop drastically.
Progesterone is most commonly boosted through creams and medications, but some may prefer a more natural approach.
One possible way to boost progesterone is through herbal supplements. One study found that chasteberry was able to raise mid-cycle progesterone levels.
However, not all herbal supplements are effective for boosting progesterone. Another study found that multiple Chinese herbal medicine supplements actually lowered progesterone levels.
A better way to naturally raise progesterone levels is through a healthy diet and lifestyle. Eating a varied diet can provide the body with the nutrients it needs for progesterone metabolism.
This includes foods such as cruciferous vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Keeping a healthy weight, staying on a consistent sleep schedule, and managing stress can help to keep hormones balanced as well.
Natural interventions might not be effective for everyone. Certain people are extremely sensitive to the symptoms of low estrogen, which include:
- hot flashes
- mood swings
- painful sex
When these symptoms interfere with daily life and natural methods aren’t helping, there are medical treatments available.
Hormone replacement therapy is a common treatment for menopause. It involves replacing estrogen and progesterone through:
- vaginal suppositories
The risks of hormone replacement therapy include an increased risk of:
- blood clots
- cardiovascular disease
- breast cancer
Too much estrogen, also called estrogen dominance, can be caused by a variety of factors. Some women naturally produce more estrogen than progesterone. Supplementation for low estrogen can also cause this type of hormonal imbalance.
The symptoms of high estrogen in women include:
- irregular periods
- mood swings
- memory problems
Men can also experience estrogen dominance, which presents as gynecomastia, erectile dysfunction, and infertility.
If you begin to experience any of these symptoms after using natural estrogen supplements, it may be due to too much estrogen.
If natural remedies aren’t helping your symptoms of low estrogen or progesterone, it may be time to visit a doctor. You can discuss other interventions, such as hormone replacement therapy.
You can also explore other dietary and lifestyle changes that may help to reduce low estrogen symptoms.
Some herbal supplements shouldn’t be taken with other drugs, so ask your doctor before beginning these supplements if you’re on any existing medications.
If you notice any adverse side effects after beginning herbal supplements for low estrogen, see a doctor immediately.
Estrogen and progesterone are important sex hormones, especially in the female body. Low estrogen and progesterone are generally caused by menopause or other health conditions.
Functional foods, vitamins and minerals, and herbal supplements are all natural ways to boost estrogen in the body.
If natural methods aren’t enough to boost your estrogen levels, visit your doctor to discuss other treatment options, such as hormone replacement therapy.