The symptoms we experience during perimenopause are mainly due to declining levels of oestrogen in our system.

Oestrogen is an essential hormone alongside progesterone for sexual and reproductive development in women.

Oestrogen and progesterone regulate our menstrual cycles up to menopause and plays an important role in pregnancy and fertility.

It stands to reason then that we may look at ways we can increase our oestrogen levels as we move through perimenopause to minimise some of those yucky symptoms we experience.

What Does Oestrogen Even Do Anyway?

In addition to the important role of regulating our menstrual cycles, oestrogen also manages other important processes in our skeletal, cardiovascular, and central nervous system that impact our overall health, such as:

  • Cholesterol levels
  • Blood sugar levels
  • Bone and muscle mass
  • Circulation and blood flow
  • Collagen production and moisture in your skin
  • Brain function (including your ability to focus - hello, damned brain fog!).

​​Oestrogen also enables your vital organ systems to function, such as:

Ovaries: estrogen helps stimulate the development of egg follicles.

Vagina: maintains the thickness of the vaginal wall and promotes lubrication.

Uterus: enhances and maintains the mucous membrane that lines the uterus. It also regulates the flow and thickness of uterine mucus secretions.

The Three Types of Oestrogen

There are three main types of oestrogen:

Estrone - “This type of oestrogen is present in the body after menopause. It is a weaker form of oestrogen and one that the body can convert to other forms of oestrogen, as necessary.”1

Estradiol - “Both males and females produce estradiol, and it is the most common type of oestrogen in females during their reproductive years.”1

Estriol - “Levels of estriol rise during pregnancy, as it helps the uterus grow and prepares the body for delivery. Estriol levels peak just before birth.”1

Where Does Oestrogen Come From?

Oestrogen, in the main, comes from our ovaries.  The adrenal glands and fat cells also make small amounts of estrogen.

What Are the Symptoms of Low Oestrogen Levels?

Symptoms of low oestrogen can include:

5 Natural Ways To Increase Your Oestrogen

1. Eat Foods Containing Plant Oestrogens (Phytoestrogens)

Many foods contain plant-based oestrogens (phytoestrogen) have a similar structure to estradiol. They can bind to our oestrogen receptors in our bodies and mimic the effects of oestrogen.

It's important to note here that they aren’t exactly the same or as powerful as the oestrogen our bodies produce or found in HRT treatments but studies have suggested that they can be effective in reducing symptoms caused by low levels of oestrogen deficiency.

Foods that are high in plant estrogens are:

Soybeans: The phytoestrogens found in soy products are called isoflavones. You can find soybeans in the form of tofu, tempeh, edamame, miso, and soy milk.

Note: soybeans are one of the most genetically modified crops in the world so it’s important to always buy organic soy.

Legumes:  Legumes are a great source of plant based protein and are also high in phytoestrogen. Good sources are chickpeas, red beans, black-eyed peas, green peas and split peas. 

Nut and Seeds:  A good protein source and high in plant oestrogens. You can have them as an easy go-to snack, or add to a salad or smoothie. Try including nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, and walnuts.

Fruit: some fruits are known for their high phytoestrogen content such as plums, pears, apples, grapes, and berries.

Dried fruit, in particular, provides a significant amount of phytoestrogens such as dried apricots, raisins and dates.

Cruciferous Vegetables: Vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, and kale contain phytoestrogens with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

Diets rich in cruciferous vegetables are also associated with lower risk of many chronic diseases, including heart problems.

2. Herbal Supplements

There are herbal supplements that can help increase your oestrogen levels. High doses of these supplements should be prescribed by a practitioner to provide a safe treatment strategy.

Chasteberry is a traditional medicine that is used to alleviate menopausal symptoms and reduce PMS symptoms.

Black Cohosh is a herb traditionally used in Native America to treat menstrual and menopause symptoms.

Red Clover contains the same plant oestrogens found in soybeans which studies have suggested helps increase oestrogen levels.

Dong Quai is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat menopause symptoms to help stimulate oestrogen production.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight Range

If you are under your ideal body weight, your body will have a harder time producing oestrogen. Seek advice from a nutritionist or dietitian if you are finding it hard to maintain a healthy weight range.

 4. Reduce Stress

High levels of stress can increase your stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol can reduce your oestrogen levels and disrupt estrogen production.

Read this helpful article: Top Tips to Reduce Stress and Anxiety in Perimenopause.

These drinks will support your nervous system and help you feel calm.

5. Improve Sleep

A good night's sleep helps your body rest, digest and function optimally. We need at least 7 hours of good sleep a night.

Read our post here on How to Get a Great Night's Sleep in Perimenopause.

These drinks will help you sleep.

When Naturally Doesn't Cut It....

If the ideas above don’t help you treat your estrogen deficiency and you haven’t seen an improvement in your symptoms, you may want to consider speaking to your health professional about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Remember that some of us will have no symptoms, some of us will find relief in natural therapies and some of us will need the support of HRT to relieve symptoms.  Wherever you sit, you don't need to suffer. Seek out what you need and what works for you.

Oestrogen in a Nutshell

Try balancing your hormones naturally by moving daily, improving sleep and eating a healthy whole food diet.

Some of us might need HRT or a combination of both, reach out to a health professional, don’t let symptoms impact your daily life.  

for better sleep, reduced mood swings,
more energy



Estrogen: Hormone, Function, Levels & Imbalances

Estrogen: Functions, uses, and imbalances

How to Increase Estrogen Naturally

Modulation of estrogen synthesis and metabolism by phytoestrogens in vitro and the implications for women's health

The synergistic effects of vitamin D and estradiol deficiency on metabolic syndrome in Chinese postmenopausal women

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga spp.) for menopausal symptoms - PMC

Use and perceived efficacy of complementary and alternative medicines after discontinuation of hormone therapy: a nested United Kingdom Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening cohort study

November 11, 2022 — Angela Greely

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