Oestrogen – what is it & why does it cause menopause symptoms

Eileen Durward

19 June 2017

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today, in A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be discussing oestrogen. And it actually occurred to me recently that just about every single week, I'm talking about oestrogen and the effect it has upon us in the menopause, but I've never explained what oestrogen is.

What is oestrogen?

Now, what is oestrogen? Oestrogen is a hormone, and a hormone is a chemical messenger that tells cells or tissues to behave in a certain way, and sometimes at a certain time.

Now, we have lots of different hormones in our bodies. We have hormones that help to regulate our metabolism, we have hormones to regulate strength of our bones, we have hormones that regulate our blood sugar levels, we have hormones that help to regulate and support our nervous system. And then we have the sex hormones which includes your oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. 

Why does oestrogen do?

Now, at puberty, young girls' ovaries start to increase the production of oestrogen, and this does a number of different things. It helps to stimulate the growth of the vagina. It helps to stimulate the strength of the vagina wall, but also to help to keep it flexible. And it also helps with the production of mucus in the vagina which is slightly acidic, and this is really important because that helps to keep any infection at bay.

It also helps to strengthen the fallopian tubes. And the fallopian tubes are the tubes that the eggs move down in order to get to the womb to be fertilised. It also helps to increase the breast size and also the pigmentation of your nipples. Oestrogen helps to strengthen the womb wall. 
And the other thing that oestrogen does is it plays a big part in the monthly period. Now in the first two weeks of the month, the production of oestrogen goes up, and up, and up. And mid-month, when oestrogen gets to the peak, that's when it triggers ovulation, and then it slowly start to decrease.

Your progesterone then comes along and helps to thicken the lining of the womb in preparation for the potential of a fertilized egg. Now if nothing happens that month, then both your oestrogen and progesterone fall, and that triggers a period, and then everything starts all over again. 

What else does oestrogen do?

But oestrogen does so much more in our bodies. Right, are you ready for this? It stimulates body temperature. It helps to control our body temperature. It helps to prevent memory loss. It helps to modify the production of endorphins in our brains, especially mid-month. And endorphins are our feel-good chemicals. And nature is very clever, because at the moment when the egg is ready to be released, that's when we feel our happiest.

Oestrogen also helps to protect our nerves from damage. It helps to improve the collagen in our skin, and collagen is what keeps our skin nice, and firm, and smooth. It helps to keep our tissues moisturised.

Oestrogen helps to keep our bones strong, it helps to support our heart function, it helps to support liver function, especially in the production and control of cholesterol which can help to prevent us getting hardening of the arteries.

What happens when oestrogen levels fall?

So, as you can see, oestrogen does such a lot in the body. And knowing what it does when we are in the menstruation ages, actually, then allows us to see what is likely to happen when oestrogen falls as we approach the menopause. And that, hopefully, will give you a better understanding of all the symptoms that you may get in the menopause or the symptoms that, at the minute, you are experiencing.

So, if you think about, falling oestrogen can affect the bones, the joints. It can affect our mood, it can affect our nerves. It can interfere with our temperature regulation, can interfere with the heart giving us stress and palpitations. It can cause vaginal dryness, it can cause the lining of the vagina to get thinner and more brittle. So, all these menopause symptoms are in the main ultimately caused by your falling oestrogen.

Is there a happy ending?

But, I know it sounds a bit depressing, but take heart because there are several nice endings, if you like. The body does adapt, and for the majority of you ladies going through the menopause, there is an end to all this. And the body can take a few years to sort of rebalance and recuperate from the lower levels of oestrogen. And once you are through the menopause, in a way it's so much better.

You're not getting the monthly periods, you're not getting monthly PMT, you're not getting the roller coaster moods, you're not likely to get heavy periods or high oestrogen symptoms such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or fibroids or endometriosis.

So, although when we're going through the menopause, losing oestrogen can be quite hard on us, once we're through the menopause, we don't really miss it. And if we also take care of ourselves as well and do some other little things as a follow on, then there's no reason why we can't feel as good or even better afterwards.

What can I do to help?


Now, the things to look at are taking some kind of phytoestrogen supplements. So, that might be things like our menopause support or black cohosh. It's also looking about supporting the nervous system.

Water & diet

Remember the water because that can help with just about everything. And also, look at the foods you're eating. There is a huge group of foods that all contain phytoestrogens and can help your body get that little bit extra on a daily basis. And the foods that you want to be looking at are things like your dark-green, leafy vegetables. There are whole grains in moderation. Things like your lentils, and beans, and pulses. Your nuts and seeds are a great source. Having a portion of those every day is a really good idea for the menopause.


We look at fruits. Things like your berries, your apples and plums. Flaxseed is another really great phytoestrogen food. And a great thing about flaxseed is take it on a daily basis, it can help with those sluggish bowels which is really common in menopause too. Green tea is another one. Again, a nice idea to substitute some of your cups of tea and coffee with green tea. And also, licorice. A nice little licorice supplement will go a long way, but not the sweets.

Preparation for a good life after menopause

So, as you can see, oestrogen plays a huge part in women's lives, basically from puberty onwards. It helps to prepare us for womanhood and prepare us for the possibility of pregnancy. But as it decreases, it can also help to prepare us for a good life after the menopause. And especially if we give our bodies that little bit extra help as well. 
So, hope you found this interesting. And in future, I'll do a little video blog on progesterone and testosterone, and how it can affect you during menopause as well. So, I will look forward to seeing you next week on A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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    Guy Pigdon — 09.09.2019 15:09
    I wanted to get your opinion on this Keto diet I found online, not sure if its something that may work or if its just another "magic" diet https://webbyt.co/keto


  • Bushra Abbas's photo avatar
    Bushra Abbas — 04.04.2019 14:19
    Hi there i m concern about my daughter who is 12 years old her periods have started 6 months ago in the beginning her periods were normal but now she started having periods twice. Month. So she quit werried. She feels too weak and tired and having so much cramps before and during periods please help thanks


    • Eileen's photo avatar
      Eileen — 05.04.2019 13:41
      Hi Bushra It is important that you take your daughter to the doctor. Although irregular periods are common in young girls who have just started, this kind of bleeding can cause low iron which in turn can trigger fatigue. The doctor can test her iron levels and may offer some kind of treatment. You could also give her a magnesium supplement 100mg twice a day as this can often help with the cramps.


  • Mandy francis 's photo avatar
    Mandy francis — 03.09.2017 20:32
    Hi, I'm suffering terribly with stabbing pains in my thigh and aching joints. I have the marina coil fitted and I'm sure I read one of your articles claiming the marina artificially inflates progesterone so when going through menopause, oestrogen naturally decreases, causing an imbalance, resulting in pains in legs and joints. Is this right? I'm desperately trying to research to establish whether I should have the marina removed? I would be very grateful for your view and pros/cons if removed. I received a free trial of the menapause support but can't take it because of the marina too. Thanks, mandy


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 04.09.2017 13:07
      Hi Mandy Yes, that's right but it can cause any number of low oestrogen symptoms and not just joint/muscle pain. Until you decide what to do you may find taking a magnesium supplement 200mg twice a day can help to ease the discomfort. If you do have it removed it is best to let your hormones balance out for a couple of months then see if you actually need anything else.


  • Jules's photo avatar
    Jules — 28.06.2017 22:33
    I have been on bioidentical hormones for almost one yr now and it has helped immensely. I am sleeping much better, my mood has improved, and I feel like myself again. There are some side effects and I still have foggy brain, and brittle hair, among other things, but I'm better than I was. Don't despair. Talk with your Dr. In addition to reading these informative blogs. :)


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 29.06.2017 13:20
      Hi Jules Great to hear that you are feeling better generally with the Bio-identical hormones, we do know that women can benefit from these if their symptoms are affecting their daily life and combining with a good diet, supplements and healthy lifestyle means that you are getting the benefits of both!


  • zoe Ison's photo avatar
    zoe Ison — 22.06.2017 21:39
    This blog has helped me a lot, and as we are all individuals, what does not help one person may help another. Any advice through this most difficult time in your life is most welcome. Thank you Eileen. ☺


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 29.06.2017 13:20
      Hi Zoe Thank you, glad to be of help!


  • Mrs JD's photo avatar
    Mrs JD — 20.06.2017 13:21
    It seems if you comment here on anything that is not positive, it won't be shown. Quoted above - this is inaccurate misinformation and untrue: So, although when we're going through the menopause, losing oestrogen can be quite hard on us, **once we're through the menopause, we don't really miss it. UNTRUE. Black cohosh, Menopace and all the other products A Vogel are peddling, along with Eileen's recommendations to eat lentils etc etc are not going to help you at all - it's just money making from vulnerable women. Don't waste your money on these or other herbal products. Do the sensible thing and ask your GP to refer you to a Menopause Clinic for proper, medical advice. Bio-identical hormone replacement treatment is available on the NHS.


    • Jo's photo avatar
      Jo — 20.06.2017 20:14
      Mrs J D - we are all individuals who are affected by the menopause in different ways and one solution does not fit all. Not everybody wants to take HRT or will be allowed to take it. I wonder why you're even looking at this website when you have such a dismissive opinion of it.


    • Electric Erin's photo avatar
      Electric Erin — 21.06.2017 15:59
      HI Mrs. JD, Even if you don't want to buy any of the A.Vogel products, the advice about the menopause is still very helpful :)


    • j Hopkins 's photo avatar
      j Hopkins — 21.06.2017 19:55
      My sister was on HRT for 5 years,HRT just prolongs the menopause,my sister is 60 years old and now suffers menopause symptoms....what a waste,she could have been done and dusted by now from all symptoms if she stayed drug free...


    • Diane Porter's photo avatar
      Diane Porter — 22.06.2017 07:30
      Thank you, Eileen for all your advice & the way you deliver it, that is to say, keeping a positive slant on the effects of menopause, whilst allowing us to understand the down sides. I contacted you well over 18mths ago now, when I was having lots of stomach & bowel problems. I took your advice and found a fantastic nutritionist & holistic practioner not too far from me and it's transformed my life. With the menopause on top of my other symptoms I just felt every day was an uphill struggle & was thinking that I was looking into the abyss which was to be the rest of my life! It's been quite a slow process , but in the last couple of months, I know I've turned a corner. However, it's thanks to your weekly newsletter that I've coped with all the ups and downs, because I know that you and other women have gone through roughly the same. You are doing a stirling job, keep it up xxx


    • Gill Newman's photo avatar
      Gill Newman — 22.06.2017 15:12
      Hi j Hopkins I know exactly how your sister feels as I too took HRT and did not have it explained to me that the menopause would kick in when I stopped. Now in 60's and still suffering. BUT Eileen's advice has helped me tremendously and so have some of the products she has recommended. So anyone out there suffering - please don't let these negative comments put you off. AND it does get easier!!


    • Carol's photo avatar
      Carol — 28.06.2017 20:41
      I disagree, this site has helped me a lot. I contacted my GP a year ago for an appointment to discuss my awful symptoms, he phoned me told me it was probably the Menopause and it would pass. If he had bothered to look at my notes he would have seen I had suffered from severe depression in the past. I tried a bio-dentical cream it gave me two periods a month anaemia and terrible cramps. So I think people should make up their own minds as to what is best for them.


  • debbie casey's photo avatar
    debbie casey — 20.06.2017 11:34
    Thanks again for the info eileen. May just be worth mentioning to ladies out there to be careful with black cohosh; I avoid this because it had a liver problem 3 years ago due to taking the pill for too long and now i have to avoid anything that may be toxic to the liver


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 20.06.2017 12:59
      Hi Debbie Thank you for this information, it's always good to get these reminders.


  • Debra's photo avatar
    Debra — 20.06.2017 09:38
    Great information, I enjoy reading the articles. With love from America


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 20.06.2017 12:59
      Hi Debra, Greetings from Scotland! Thank you!


  • June Hourihan's photo avatar
    June Hourihan — 20.06.2017 08:44
    This was really helpful in making me understand oesteogen and its effects. A great lesson thank you


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 20.06.2017 09:23
      Hi June You're welcome, thanks for watching!


    • sarah sally Bassett's photo avatar
      sarah sally Bassett — 20.06.2017 13:26
      hi this is sarah would like to ask as filled in a free offer last week for hrt supplement like did lots of women was said is free to help with hrt symptoms but not heard nothing since so was a scam or not as not heard nothing back would you text me if am wrong


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 20.06.2017 13:36
      Hi Sally I am sorry to hear that you have not received your pack yet, please email Kirsty@bioforce.co.uk with your full name and address and she will send you out a replacement.


  • karen's photo avatar
    karen — 20.06.2017 07:24
    Hi. Me again ..... I have just read Gale Cooke's blog. I have similar aches. Please could you explain. Regards.


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 20.06.2017 09:23
      Hi Karen Here is my reply: It could be a number of things such as a prolapse (which is quite common in and after the menopause) so it is a good idea to get it checked out by your doctor. A prolapse is where the pelvic girdle muscles can weaken allowing the bladder, or bowel or womb to shift position. This can then put pressure on the vagina often causing an ache or a bulge.


  • karen's photo avatar
    karen — 20.06.2017 07:17
    Thank you so much for this most insightful blog. Outstanding! Puts everything into perspective. Whew! As long as there is light at the end of the very long tunnel. Regards


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 20.06.2017 09:23
      Thank you, glad to be of help!


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