How Estrogen Can Affect Your Pelvic Floor
Hormones can be tricky things, we can’t see them, and yet they affect so many functions within the body. For women, estrogen is a potent hormone that starts with a strong supply when we are young, but as we age and hit perimenopause this starts to drop and declines even more into our menopause years.
While it is all part of the natural ageing process for a woman, it can play havoc with the pelvic floor area, as that is our reproductive centre.
Estrogen and the Pelvic Floor
There is a strong link between estrogen levels and the health of the pelvic floor. As the levels drop, women will find that there is less vaginal discharge and decreased lubrication which means that the vaginal tissues and vulvar become rather dry.
When this happens, sex can become painful, even causing bleeding of the now easily irritated tissues. After sex, there can also be irritation and itching, making the idea of intimacy rather less appealing. It can even increase the risk of bacterial infections, so unsurprisingly, this can be a very stressful time for some women.
The decrease in estrogen also contributes to the pelvic floor muscles becoming thinner and weaker, and this, in turn, can lead to pelvic floor prolapse. If you are in the perimenopause phase, the first indication that you could be experiencing a prolapse is when you find you are leaking a little bit of urine if you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze.
The risk of pelvic organ prolapse also increases with ageing, especially after childbirth, irrespective of whether there is a vaginal or c-section delivery. While low estrogen levels alone are not responsible for pelvic pain, discomfort during sex and reoccurring infections can cause a lot of pain.
With that in mind, every woman should take care of their pelvic floor. The good news is that it is never too late to start, and a combination of Kegal exercises and increasing oestrogen levels can make a powerful difference to the health of your pelvic floor. So let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to boost your estrogen levels.
How to Increase Your Estrogen Levels
To increase your estrogen levels, you should:
- Take Vitamin B and D
- Investing in Evening Primrose Supplements
- Eat Flax Seeds and Sesame Seeds
- Add Soy to Your Diet
Take Vitamin B and D
Vitamin B is vital as it enables the body to create and activate estrogen. If you have low vitamin B levels, you can find that the drop off of estrogen can be more rapid.
There are several different B vitamins, and a good supplement will cover all of them, giving you a healthy daily intake. Studies (1) have also shown that B2 and B6 specifically can help lower the risk of breast cancer, thought to be because of the positive impact they have on oestrogen. Unless you happen to live in a year-round sunny climate, the chances are you do not get enough vitamin D.
It is one of the supplements that doctors recommend most people should be taking, and it plays a crucial role in how estrogen is synthesised in the body.
Investing in Evening Primrose Supplements
Evening primrose oil has been a staple for women of menopausal age for many decades, and with good reason-it really does help. It comes from the plant with the same name and is high in omega-6 fatty acids. You can take it before you reach the perimenopausal stage, as it is also beneficial for symptoms of PMS. In one survey survey (2) of 2200 women who used Evening Primrose, 889 of them said that their estrogen levels were better because of this fabulous supplement.
Eat Flax Seeds and Sesame Seeds
Both flax and sesame seeds are high in phytoestrogens, which help with natural estrogen metabolism in the body. Again the benefits of eating these seeds include better estrogen levels, and also a decreased risk of certain female cancers and better bone health. They can be eaten alone or added to meals, sprinkled on salads, stirred into porridge or used in smoothies.
Add Soy to Your Diet
The reason that soy can help is once more the vital power of phytoestrogens. Soybeans are used in many foods, including miso and tofu, and are often used as a protein substitute for meat in vegan and vegetarian diets. The phytoestrogens help increase estrogen levels naturally, and eating soy will ensure this happens.
How Long Does It Take to Increase Estrogen Levels?
It can take up to 2 months to increase your estrogen levels; however, some women have reported that they start to see improvement in some of the negative issues caused by low estrogen in just two to three weeks.
Another top tip is to ensure that you have a good source of pre and probiotics in your diet as this helps to create a healthy gut environment. When the stomach bacteria is working well, it produces a good bacteria called the estrobolome, which can also help metabolise estrogen, especially if you are eating soy, flax and sesame seeds and taking the recommended supplements.
Estrogen plays a vital role in pelvic floor health but is a hormone that naturally decreases for all women when they reach perimenopause and subsequent menopause. Low estrogen can cause problems, including vaginal dryness, irritation and risk of infection, making intimacy less appealing. This can increase stress and decrease confidence.
Low estrogen can also impact the muscles and weaken the pelvic floor, which is another potential problem caused by the ageing process and childbirth. Increasing the oestrogen levels can have a positive effect in reversing some of the unpleasant symptoms caused by low levels. The good news is that this can be done by dietary changes and introducing supplements to the daily routine. However, in order to maintain a strong pelvic floor, it is also important to use Kegal exercises, as pelvic floor prolapse can lead to a whole host of other problems.
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(1) - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27121532/
(2) - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4470524/