Gym Horror Unleashed! Subpar Estrogen Haunting Women’s Workout Dreams

Estrogens, although not conventionally classified as anabolic hormones, have recently been shown to exert a substantial impact on muscle mass, strength, and recovery in women. This underscores the significant role of sub-optimal estrogen levels as a potential cause of muscle loss and weakness among women, ultimately hindering their performance during exercise. Understanding the mechanisms through which estrogens influence muscle mass, identifying individuals at risk of low estrogen levels, and exploring effective solutions are key aspects to delve into.

The causes of low estrogen levels are multifaceted and can stem from various factors, including perimenopause, menopause, chronic stress, ovarian failure, anorexia, and chronic kidney disease. It’s worth noting that perimenopause generally commences around the age of 47.5 years on average, while menopause occurs between 50 and 52 years for most women. However, a small percentage of women (approximately 1%) experience premature menopause before the age of 40. In such cases, therapy involving estrogens or phytoestrogens is strongly recommended due to the heightened risk of various diseases and potentially early mortality associated with low estrogen levels at a younger age.

The benefits of estrogen for physical performance in women are manifold:

1. Muscle Protection and Recovery: Estrogen plays a pivotal role in enhancing recovery. Research suggests that estrogen can diminish exercise-induced muscle damage, alleviate post-exercise muscle inflammation, expedite the healing process of micro-injuries, and promote overall recovery. This is likely attributed to estrogen’s antioxidative properties and its role in stabilizing muscle cell membranes, leading to reduced muscle tissue damage and accelerated recovery post-exercise.

2. Support for Muscle Growth: Despite not being a direct anabolic hormone, estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in postmenopausal women has been shown to amplify the signaling potency of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a potent anabolic hormone. Consequently, estrogen therapy or natural phytoestrogens present a potential avenue to counter muscle loss in women with low estrogen levels.

3. Enhanced Muscle Strength: Although estrogen’s inherent anabolic effects are limited, studies have also confirmed its potential to enhance muscle strength. Estrogen contributes to increasing the force with which muscle fibers (actin and myosin) bind together, resulting in greater muscle power during contraction. Furthermore, estrogen’s anti-inflammatory attributes aid in reducing local inflammation, including post-exercise muscle soreness, and promote the recovery of damaged muscle tissue.

Restoring low estrogen levels may involve addressing the underlying causes, such as managing chronic stress. However, in the majority of cases, the most effective approach to rectify low estrogen levels is through hormone supplementation—either conventional hormones or natural phytoestrogens. Studies have showcased significant improvements in muscle strength, size, and overall body composition through hormone replacement therapy.

Phytoestrogens, which emulate human estrogens and are derived from plants, offer a natural and relatively safer alternative to traditional hormone replacement therapy. Foods like soy, flaxseed, sesame seeds, dried fruit, berries, red grapes, and parsley are rich in phytoestrogens. Alternatively, topical products containing phytoestrogens, such as serums and creams, provide localized benefits to muscle recovery and strength. Pueraria Mirifica, a Thai plant, is a potent source of phytoestrogens that can be topically applied to support muscle recovery while potentially enhancing skin hydration and elasticity.

In conclusion, estrogen levels play an influential and often underestimated role in women’s muscle strength, mass, and recovery after exercise. Especially for women approaching their 40s, understanding their estrogen levels and considering strategies to maintain an optimal balance is crucial. Seeking medical advice, conducting tests, and exploring appropriate estrogen supplementation approaches are recommended. Incorporating natural sources of phytoestrogens into the diet and using topical products can contribute to maintaining the right estrogen levels for improved physical performance and overall well-being.

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