What your lifetime hormone levels mean for your health
It’s no secret that a woman’s estrogen levels fluctuate over time. But many are unaware that this fluctuation can play a significant role in how women look and act throughout their lifetime. Even though every woman produces estrogen, the amount produced varies. Some women produce more, some less. Some women are more sensitive to estrogen, some less. Lifetime estrogen levels can have a huge impact on a woman’s life, such as:
Age of Menarche – Age of menarche, or our first period, has been studied to help explain a variety of health issues. Current research has shown that the age of one’s menarche, specifically an earlier menarche, can effect:
Fertility – Risk of infertility is associated with a later age of menarche.
Risk of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer – Here the numbers are fairly dramatic, with almost 10% less risk of premenopausal breast cancer for each year of delay compared to the average that a woman has her first period.
Endometriosis and endometriosis associated pain – Here there is a small increase of risk for women who have their first period at a younger age.
Hormone levels – It turns out that age of menarche is not just associate with an extra year or two of early cycles. Women with early menarche have overall hormone levels during all their reproductive years.
Risk of diabetes – An earlier first period is also associated with a higher risk to type 2 diabetes.
Risk of developing heart disease – This is higher for women who are either very below or above the average (which is 12 years old).
There are many risk associated with an early age of menarche. And with the average age dropping from 13 to 12 years old, women are getting earlier and earlier periods with higher levels of estrogen levels. When talking to your gyno, discuss your reproductive life plan, what risk you may be presented with based on your life of menstrual periods, and whether you have had too much hormone exposure.
Body Shape – A woman’s body shape can provide a visual clue to what their estrogen levels are. If you are short, curvy, and have well developed breasts, you are more likely to have higher estrogen levels. This also means that you might experience more drastic changes when your estrogen levels fluctuate. On the flipside, if you are tall, thin, and have less developed breasts, you might have lower levels of estrogen and therefore might not experience as drastic of changes when your estrogen levels fluctuate. Of course, there are many more body types than the ones listed above, and many women fall between these two shapes, which means their estrogen levels and sensitivity would be a combination of the two as well.
Menstrual Cycle – How a woman feels during her menstrual cycle can be an indicator of her estrogen levels. Depending on if/when a woman is feeling irritated, bloated, and/or have tender breasts, it can be indicative of their estrogen levels and sensitivity to the fluctuation throughout the menstrual cycle.
Lifestyle – A woman’s lifestyle choices can have an immense effect on estrogen levels. If a woman lives an inactive lifestyle and has a poor diet, packed with processed foods that are low in nutrients and animals products with antibiotics and growth hormones, they may be prone to excess estrogen levels. Whereas if a woman lives an overactive lifestyle and has a diet consisting of only vegetables (no protein or cholesterol), they will be more prone to estrogen deficiency. In addition, stress levels can also throw hormone levels out of balance.
Overall Health – Overall health can have a serious effect on estrogen levels. The inner workings of our bodies work together to keep us alive and moving, and so when we are thrown offset by an illness (whether it be of the liver, kidney, brain, etc.), a major surgery (like the removal of the uterus and/or ovaries), chemotherapy, etc., our estrogen levels are also impacted.