Low Estrogen and Progesterone Intolerance

Ask Larry: 

Your Question: I am wondering of you could tell me your opinion on what might cause estrogen to stay abnormally low a year after having a baby. My conditions are: mthfr (hetero), COMT (hetero), Crohn’s but no symptoms with supplements and diet, chronic low estrogen and progesterone. I have a total intolerance for progesterone as it makes me more anxious and depressed even when on estrogen. Estrogen patch is the only thing that really helps my anxiety. I was last tested 9 months out from birth for hormones and all were low, with estrogen being the lowest at almost half of the lowest normal number.

Larry’s Response: 

Causes of low estrogen are numerous and include;

  • Decreased functioning of the ovaries;
  • Cysts on and in the ovaries;
  • Pregnancy problems that lead to miscarriage;
  • Childbirth and breast-feeding;
  • Decreased functioning of the pituitary gland;
  • Eating disorders and dieting resulting in low body fat;
  • Certain fertility drugs;
  • Excessive exercise resulting in low body fat.
As these are all significant issues, they’re far outside my level of expertise. While I want to help, it could easily be inappropriate and possibly dangerous. I encourage you to work with your local doctors. Explain your situation. Ask for their assistance. If there isn’t a two-way match with one doctor, try another, and another, until you locate that special person who respects your position and welcomes your participation.
 
On the other hand, I’m perplexed by the information you present in your note. As estrogen – and progesterone for that matter – are vitally important for becoming pregnant and maintaining the pregnancy to term, it is difficult to understand how you could have low levels of estrogen and still maintain a pregnancy. 
 
Also, during pregnancy, progesterone levels climb dramatically – and fall at birth. I don’t understand how you could be overly sensitive to progesterone. Perhaps you are referring to one of the synthetic progesterone products that are often prescribed (medroxyprogesterone, for example, is a progestin, but it is not progesterone). Regardless, it is confusing.
 
There are three estrogen hormones; estrone, estradiol, and estriol. While one may appear abnormal, the overall combination may be within normal limits. As you only mention estrogen I cannot elaborate further. One excellent evaluation method is to look at the ratio between estradiol and progesterone. If that number is in the normal range, the individual values are less relevant.
 
In the end, your best course of action is to work with your doctor to define any existing deficiency, then discover and resolve the cause(s).

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