How can I increase my estrogen naturally?
The alternative treatments for menopause that have been studied in well-designed trials include phytoestrogens (plant estrogens, isoflavones), black cohosh, and vitamin E.
Isoflavones are chemical compounds found in soy and other plants (such as chick peas and lentils) that are phytoestrogens, or plant-derived estrogens. Red clover is another source of isoflavones that has been used by some women in an attempt to relieve hot flashes. Isoflavones have a chemical structure that is similar to the estrogens naturally produced by the body, but their effectiveness as an estrogen has been estimated to be much lower than true estrogens.
Some studies have shown that these compounds may help relieve hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. In particular, women who have had breast cancer and do not want to take hormone therapy (HT) with estrogen sometimes use soy products for relief of menopausal symptoms. However, some phytoestrogens can actually have anti-estrogenic properties in certain situations, and the overall risks of these preparations have not yet been determined. There is some concern because of the fact that these products are selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), that phytoestrogens may stimulate breast cancer growth or limit the antitumor effects of tamoxifen (Nolvadex). Data are conflicting in this regard, and it is important for women to understand that the long-term risks and potential effects of phytoestrogens have not been fully characterized. For example, researchers have shown that long-term use of phytoestrogens in postmenopausal women led to an increase in endometrial hyperplasia (overgrowth of the tissues lining the uterus) which can be a precursor to cancer.
There is a perception among many women that plant estrogens are "natural" remedies and therefore safer than HT, but their safety has never been proven scientifically. Further research is needed to fully characterize the safety and potential risks of phytoestrogens.
The North American Menopause Society recommends that women try behavioral modifications such as attempting to keep the core body temperature cooler to help relieve hot flashes. Other modifications include regular exercise, yoga and meditation. Several studies have failed to prove a beneficial effect of exercise on hot flashes, possibly because exercise raises core body temperature and may, in fact, trigger hot flashes. Still, regular exercise has important benefits in the prevention of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other conditions.
Relaxation therapy and stress management interventions do not appear to be effective in the management of hot flashes, according to scientific studies. However, these interventions may be beneficial for women in maintaining overall health, physical well-being, and emotional well-being during the menopausal transition.