From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Other namesEstrogen deficiency

Hypoestrogenism, or estrogen deficiency, refers to a lower than normal level of estrogen. It is an umbrella term used to describe estrogen deficiency in various conditions. Estrogen deficiency is also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease,[1] and has been linked to diseases like urinary tract infections[2] and osteoporosis.

In women, low levels of estrogen may cause symptoms such as hot flashes, sleeping disturbances, decreased bone health,[3] and changes in the genitourinary system. Hypoestrogenism is most commonly found in women who are postmenopausal, have primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), or are presenting with amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods). Hypoestrogenism includes primarily genitourinary effects, including thinning of the vaginal tissue layers and an increase in vaginal pH. With normal levels of estrogen, the environment of the vagina is protected against inflammation, infections, and sexually transmitted infections.[4] Hypoestrogenism can also occur in men, for instance due to hypogonadism.

There are both hormonal and non-hormonal treatments to prevent the negative effects of low estrogen levels and improve quality of life.

Signs and symptoms[edit]


Presentations of low estrogen levels include hot flashes, which are sudden, intense feelings of heat predominantly in the upper body, causing the skin to redden as if blushing. They are believed to occur due to the narrowing of the thermonuclear zone in the hypothalamus, making the body more sensitive to body temperature changes.[5] Night disturbances are also common symptoms associated with hypoestrogenism. People may experience difficulty falling asleep, waking up several times a night, and early awakening with different variability between races and ethnic groups.[6]


Other classic symptoms include both physical and chemical changes of the vulva, vagina, and lower urinary tract.[7] Genitals go through atrophic changes such as losing elasticity, losing vaginal rugae, and increasing of vaginal pH,[8] which can lead to changes in the vaginal flora and increase the risk of tissue fragility and fissure. Other genital signs include dryness or lack of lubrication, burning, irritation, discomfort or pain, as well as impaired function.[9] Low levels of estrogen can lead to limited genital arousal and cause dyspareunia, or painful sexual intercourse because of changes in the four layers of the vaginal wall.[10] People with low estrogen will also experience higher urgency to urinate and dysuria, or painful urination.[failed verification] Hypoestrogenism is also considered one of the major risk factors for developing uncomplicated urinary tract infection in postmenopausal women who do not take hormone replacement therapy.[11]

Bone health[edit]

Estrogen contributes to bone health in several ways;[12] low estrogen levels increase bone resorption via osteoclasts and osteocytes, cells that help with bone remodeling,[13] making bones more likely to deteriorate and increase risk of fracture. The decline in estrogen levels can ultimately lead to more serious illnesses, such as scoliosis[14] or type I osteoporosis, a disease that thins and weakens bones, resulting in low bone density and fractures.[15][16] Estrogen deficiency plays an important role in osteoporosis development for both genders, and it is more pronounced for women and at younger (menopausal) ages by five to ten years compared with men. Females are also at higher risk for osteopenia and osteoporosis.[16]


A variety of conditions can lead to hypoestrogenism: menopause is the most common.[5] Primary ovarian insufficiency (premature menopause) due to varying causes, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a spontaneous manifestation, can also lead to low estrogen and infertility.[17]

Hypogonadism (a condition where the gonadstestes for men and ovaries for women – have diminished activity) can decrease estrogen.[18] In primary hypogonadism, elevated serum gonadotropins are detected on at least two occasions several weeks apart, indicating gonadal failure.[18] In secondary hypogonadism (where the cause is hypothalamic or pituitary dysfunction) serum levels of gonadotropins may be low.[19]

Other causes include certain medications, gonadotropin insensitivity, inborn errors of steroid metabolism (for example, aromatase deficiency, 17α-hydroxylase deficiency, 17,20-lyase deficiency, 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency, and cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme or steroidogenic acute regulatory protein deficiency) and functional amenorrhea.[medical citation needed]


Low endogenous estrogen levels can elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease in women who reach early menopause.[1] Estrogen is needed to relax arteries using endothelial-derived nitric oxide resulting in better heart health by decreasing adverse atherogenic effects.[20] Women with POI may have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease due to low estrogen production.[21]


Estrogen deficiency has both vaginal and urologic effects; the female genitalia and lower urinary tract share common estrogen receptor function due to their embryological development. Estrogen is a vasoactive hormone (one that affects blood pressure) which stimulates blood flow and increases vaginal secretions and lubrication. Activated estrogen receptors also stimulate tissue proliferation in the vaginal walls, which contribute to the formation of rugae. This rugae aids in sexual stimulation by becoming lubricated, distended, and expanded.[22]

Genitourinary effects of low estrogen include thinning of the vaginal epithelium, loss of vaginal barrier function,[clarification needed] decrease of vaginal folding, decrease of the elasticity of the tissues, and decrease of the secretory activity of the Bartholin glands, which leads to traumatization of the vaginal mucosa and painful sensations. This thinning of the vaginal epithelium layers can increase the risk of developing inflammation and infection, such as urinary tract infection.[4]

The vagina is largely dominated by bacteria from the genus Lactobacillus, which typically comprise more than 70% of the vaginal bacteria in women. These lactobacilli process glycogen and its breakdown products, which result in a maintained low vaginal pH. Estrogen levels are closely linked to lactobacilli abundance and vaginal pH, as higher levels of estrogen promote thickening of the vaginal epithelium and intracellular production of glycogen. This large presence of lactobacilli and subsequent low pH levels are hypothesized to benefit women by protecting against sexually transmitted pathogens and opportunistic infections, and therefore reducing disease risk.[23]


Hypoestrogenism is typically found in menopause and aids in diagnosis of other conditions such as POI and functional amenorrhea.[17][24] Estrogen levels can be tested through several laboratory tests: vaginal maturation index,[clarification needed] progestogen challenge test, and vaginal swabs for small parabasal cells.[19]


Menopause is usually diagnosed through symptoms of vaginal atrophy, pelvic exams, and taking a comprehensive medical history consisting of last menstruation cycle. There is no definitive testing available for determining menopause as the symptom complex is the primary indicator[5] and because the lower levels of estradiol are harder to accurately detect after menopause.[25] However, there can be laboratory tests done to differentiate between menopause and other diagnoses.[citation needed]

Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea[edit]

Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA) is diagnosed based on findings of amenorrhea lasting three months or more, low serum hormone of gonadotropins and estradiol.[26] Since common causes of FHA include exercising too much, eating too little, or being under too much stress, diagnosis of FHA includes accessing for any changes in exercise, weight, and stress. In addition, evaluation of amenorrhea includes a history and physical examination, biochemical testing, imaging, and measuring estrogen level. Examination of menstrual problems and clinical tests to measure hormones such as serum prolactin, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) can help rule out other potential causes of amenorrhea. These potential conditions include hyperprolactinemia, POI, and polycystic ovary syndrome.[27]

Primary ovarian insufficiency[edit]

Primary ovarian insufficiency, also known as premature ovarian failure, can develop in women before the age of forty as a consequence of hypergonadotropic hypogonadism.[19] POI can present as amenorrhea and has similar symptoms to menopause, but measuring FSH levels is used for diagnosis.[21]


Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be used to treat hypoestrogenism and menopause related symptoms, and low estrogen levels in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Low-dose estrogen medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of menopause-related symptoms. HRT can be used with or without a progestogen to improve symptoms such as hot flashes, sweating, trouble sleeping, vaginal dryness and discomfort.[28] The FDA recommends HRT to be avoided in women with a history or risk of breast cancer, undiagnosed genital bleeding, untreated high blood pressure, unexplained blood clots, or liver disease.[28]

HRT for the vasomotor symptoms of hypoestrogenism include different forms of estrogen, such as conjugated equine estrogens, 17β-estradiol, transdermal estradiol, ethinyl estradiol, and the estradiol ring.[28] In addition to HRT, there are common progestogens that are used to protect the inner layer of the uterus, the endometrium. These medications include medroxyprogesterone acetate, progesterone, norethisterone acetate, and drospirenone.[28]

Non-pharmacological treatment of hot flashes includes using portable fans to lower the room temperature, wearing layered clothing, and avoiding tobacco, spicy food, alcohol and caffeine. There is a lack of evidence to support other treatments such as acupuncture, yoga, and exercise to reduce symptoms.[29]

In men[edit]

Estrogens are also important in male physiology.[30][31][32] Hypoestrogenism can occur in men due to hypogonadism.[33] Very rare causes include aromatase deficiency and estrogen insensitivity syndrome.[30][31][32] Medications can also be a cause of hypoestrogenism in men.[34][35] Hypoestrogenism in men can lead to osteoporosis, among other symptoms.[30][31][32] Estrogens may also be positively involved in sexual desire in men.[33][36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Atsma F, Bartelink ML, Grobbee DE, van der Schouw YT (2006). "Postmenopausal status and early menopause as independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis". Menopause. 13 (2): 265–79. doi:10.1097/01.gme.0000218683.97338.ea. PMID 16645540. S2CID 46530925.
  2. ^ Perrotta C, Aznar M, Mejia R, Albert X, Ng CW (April 2008). "Oestrogens for preventing recurrent urinary tract infection in postmenopausal women". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD005131. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005131.pub2. PMID 18425910.
  3. ^ Prior JC (August 2018). "Progesterone for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in women". Climacteric. 21 (4): 366–374. doi:10.1080/13697137.2018.1467400. PMID 29962257. S2CID 49649035.
  4. ^ a b Naumova I, Castelo-Branco C (2018). "Current treatment options for postmenopausal vaginal atrophy". International Journal of Women's Health. 10: 387–395. doi:10.2147/IJWH.S158913. PMC 6074805. PMID 30104904.
  5. ^ a b c Warren MP, Shu AR, Dominguez JE (2000), Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, Chrousos G (eds.), "Menopause and Hormone Replacement", Endotext, South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc., PMID 25905278
  6. ^ Kravitz HM, Zhao X, Bromberger JT, Gold EB, Hall MH, Matthews KA, Sowers MR (July 2008). "Sleep disturbance during the menopausal transition in a multi-ethnic community sample of women". Sleep. 31 (7): 979–90. PMC 2491500. PMID 18652093.
  7. ^ Portman DJ, Gass ML (October 2014). "Genitourinary syndrome of menopause: new terminology for vulvovaginal atrophy from the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health and the North American Menopause Society". Menopause. 21 (10): 1063–8. doi:10.1097/GME.0000000000000329. PMID 25160739. S2CID 21886335.
  8. ^ Sartori MG, Feldner PC, Jarmy-Di Bella ZI, Aquino Castro R, Baracat EC, Rodrigues de Lima G, Castello Girão MJ (February 2011). "Sexual steroids in urogynecology". Climacteric. 14 (1): 5–14. doi:10.3109/13697137.2010.508542. PMID 20839956. S2CID 32209654.
  9. ^ Kim HK, Kang SY, Chung YJ, Kim JH, Kim MR (August 2015). "The Recent Review of the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause". Journal of Menopausal Medicine. 21 (2): 65–71. doi:10.6118/jmm.2015.21.2.65. PMC 4561742. PMID 26357643.
  10. ^ Lara LA, Useche B, Ferriani RA, Reis RM, de Sá MF, de Freitas MM, et al. (January 2009). "The effects of hypoestrogenism on the vaginal wall: interference with the normal sexual response". The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 6 (1): 30–9. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.01052.x. PMID 19170834.
  11. ^ Al-Badr A, Al-Shaikh G (August 2013). "Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Management in Women: A review". Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal. 13 (3): 359–67. doi:10.12816/0003256. PMC 3749018. PMID 23984019.
  12. ^ Meczekalski B, Podfigurna-Stopa A, Genazzani AR (2010). "Hypoestrogenism in young women and its influence on bone mass density". Gynecological Endocrinology. 26 (9): 652–657. doi:10.3109/09513590.2010.486452. ISSN 0951-3590. PMID 20504098. S2CID 26063411.
  13. ^ Khosla S (September 2008). "Estrogen and bone: insights from estrogen-resistant, aromatase-deficient, and normal men". Bone. 43 (3): 414–7. doi:10.1016/j.bone.2008.05.005. PMC 2553890. PMID 18567553.
  14. ^ Latalski M, Danielewicz-Bromberek A, Fatyga M, Latalska M, Kröber M, Zwolak P (October 2017). "Current insights into the aetiology of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis". Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery. 137 (10): 1327–1333. doi:10.1007/s00402-017-2756-1. PMC 5602042. PMID 28710669.
  15. ^ Office of the Surgeon General (US) (2004). Diseases of Bone. Office of the Surgeon General (US).
  16. ^ a b Alswat KA (May 2017). "Gender Disparities in Osteoporosis". J Clin Med Res. 9 (5): 382–387. doi:10.14740/jocmr2970w. PMC 5380170. PMID 28392857.
  17. ^ a b Nelson LM (February 2009). "Clinical practice. Primary ovarian insufficiency". The New England Journal of Medicine. 360 (6): 606–14. doi:10.1056/nejmcp0808697. PMC 2762081. PMID 19196677.
  18. ^ a b Richard-Eaglin A (September 1, 2018). "Male and Female Hypogonadism". Nursing Clinics of North America. Syndromes in Organ Failure. 53 (3): 395–405. doi:10.1016/j.cnur.2018.04.006. ISSN 0029-6465. PMID 30100005.
  19. ^ a b c Bhagavath B, Layman LC (2013). "Chapter 32 – Genetics of Female Infertility in Humans". In Rimoin D, Pyeritz R, Korf B (eds.). Emery and Rimoin's Principles and Practice of Medical Genetics. Oxford: Academic Press. pp. 1–24. ISBN 978-0-12-383834-6.
  20. ^ Dubey R (2012). Sex Hormones. BoD – Books on Demand. p. 39. ISBN 978-953-307-856-4.
  21. ^ a b Gargus E, Deans R, Anazodo A, Woodruff TK (September 2018). "Management of Primary Ovarian Insufficiency Symptoms in Survivors of Childhood and Adolescent Cancer". J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 16 (9): 1137–1149. doi:10.6004/jnccn.2018.7023. PMC 6607891. PMID 30181423.
  22. ^ Gandhi J, Chen A, Dagur G, Suh Y, Smith N, Cali B, Khan SA (December 2016). "Genitourinary syndrome of menopause: an overview of clinical manifestations, pathophysiology, etiology, evaluation, and management". Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 215 (6): 704–711. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2016.07.045. PMID 27472999.
  23. ^ Kaur H, Merchant M, Haque MM, Mande SS (2020). "Crosstalk Between Female Gonadal Hormones and Vaginal Microbiota Across Various Phases of Women's Gynecological Lifecycle". Front Microbiol. 11: 551. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2020.00551. PMC 7136476. PMID 32296412.
  24. ^ Gordon CM, Ackerman KE, Berga SL, Kaplan JR, Mastorakos G, Misra M, Murad MH, Santoro NF, Warren MP (May 2017). "Functional Hypothalamic Amenorrhea: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline". J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 102 (5): 1413–1439. doi:10.1210/jc.2017-00131. PMID 28368518.
  25. ^ Demers LM, Hankinson SE, Haymond S, Key T, Rosner W, Santen RJ, et al. (June 2015). "Measuring Estrogen Exposure and Metabolism: Workshop Recommendations on Clinical Issues". The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 100 (6): 2165–70. doi:10.1210/jc.2015-1040. PMC 5393513. PMID 25850026.
  26. ^ Shufelt CL, Torbati T, Dutra E (May 2017). "Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and the Long-Term Health Consequences". Seminars in Reproductive Medicine. 35 (3): 256–262. doi:10.1055/s-0037-1603581. PMC 6374026. PMID 28658709.
  27. ^ Sowińska-Przepiera E, Andrysiak-Mamos E, Jarząbek-Bielecka G, Walkowiak A, Osowicz-Korolonek L, Syrenicz M, et al. (2015). "Functional hypothalamic amenorrhoea — diagnostic challenges, monitoring, and treatment". Endokrynologia Polska. 66 (3): 252–60. doi:10.5603/EP.2015.0033. PMID 26136135.
  28. ^ a b c d Goodman NF, Cobin RH, Ginzburg SB, Katz IA, Woode DE (2011). "American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists Medical Guidelines for Clinical Practice for the diagnosis and treatment of menopause". Endocrine Practice. 17 Suppl 6 (Supplement 6): 1–25. doi:10.4158/EP.17.S6.1. PMID 22193047.
  29. ^ Kaunitz AM, Manson JE (October 2015). "Management of Menopausal Symptoms". Obstet Gynecol. 126 (4): 859–76. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000001058. PMC 4594172. PMID 26348174.
  30. ^ a b c Simpson ER, Jones ME (2006). "Of mice and men: the many guises of estrogens". Ernst Schering Found Symp Proc (Review). Ernst Schering Foundation Symposium Proceedings. 2006/1 (1): 45–67. doi:10.1007/2789_2006_016. ISBN 978-3-540-49547-5. PMID 17824171.
  31. ^ a b c Hammes SR, Levin ER (May 2019). "Impact of estrogens in males and androgens in females". J. Clin. Invest. (Review). 129 (5): 1818–1826. doi:10.1172/JCI125755. PMC 6486327. PMID 31042159.
  32. ^ a b c Cooke PS, Nanjappa MK, Ko C, Prins GS, Hess RA (July 2017). "Estrogens in Male Physiology". Physiol. Rev. (Review). 97 (3): 995–1043. doi:10.1152/physrev.00018.2016. PMC 6151497. PMID 28539434.
  33. ^ a b Kacker R, Traish AM, Morgentaler A (June 2012). "Estrogens in men: clinical implications for sexual function and the treatment of testosterone deficiency". J Sex Med (Review). 9 (6): 1681–96. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02726.x. PMID 22512993.
  34. ^ de Ronde W, de Jong FH (June 2011). "Aromatase inhibitors in men: effects and therapeutic options". Reprod. Biol. Endocrinol. (Review). 9: 93. doi:10.1186/1477-7827-9-93. PMC 3143915. PMID 21693046.
  35. ^ Russell N, Cheung A, Grossmann M (August 2017). "Estradiol for the mitigation of adverse effects of androgen deprivation therapy". Endocr. Relat. Cancer (Reivew). 24 (8): R297–R313. doi:10.1530/ERC-17-0153. PMID 28667081.
  36. ^ Wibowo E, Wassersug RJ (September 2013). "The effect of estrogen on the sexual interest of castrated males: Implications to prostate cancer patients on androgen-deprivation therapy". Crit. Rev. Oncol. Hematol. (Review). 87 (3): 224–38. doi:10.1016/j.critrevonc.2013.01.006. PMID 23484454.

External links[edit]