Estrogens play a significant role in muscle mass, strength, and recovery in women, despite not being traditionally classified as anabolic hormones. Low estrogen levels can contribute to muscle loss and weakness, impacting women’s performance in the gym. Several factors can cause low estrogen, including perimenopause, intense stress, ovarian failure, anorexia, and chronic kidney disease. It’s important to note that premature menopause can occur in around 1% of women under 40, necessitating estrogen or phytoestrogen therapy to mitigate the increased risk of diseases associated with low estrogen levels.
Estrogen offers various benefits for physical performance in women. Firstly, it protects muscles and promotes faster recovery by reducing exercise-related muscle damage, alleviating inflammation, and aiding in the regeneration of muscle tissue. Secondly, while estrogens themselves are not anabolic, estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in postmenopausal women can enhance the signaling power of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a highly anabolic hormone. Consequently, estrogen therapy or natural phytoestrogens can help prevent muscle loss in women with low estrogen levels. Thirdly, estrogen improves muscle strength by enhancing the binding force between muscle fibers and combating local inflammation, facilitating muscle tissue recovery.
To restore low estrogen levels, addressing underlying causes such as chronic stress is crucial. In most cases, hormone therapy (conventional or natural) is necessary to effectively resolve low estrogen issues. Studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy can yield significant improvements in physical performance, including faster walking speed, increased muscle strength, muscle growth, reduced fat, and enhanced vertical jump height and running speed. However, conventional hormone therapy requires a prescription, constant monitoring, and may have side effects like an increased risk of breast cancer. Natural alternatives, such as phytoestrogens found in soy, flaxseed, sesame seeds, dried fruit, berries, red grapes, and parsley, offer a safer option. Topical products containing phytoestrogens, like serums and creams, can also be applied to support muscle recovery and strength.
In conclusion, estrogen levels have a profound impact on women’s strength, muscle mass, and post-exercise recovery. It is important to consider estrogen levels, particularly in women approaching their 40s, and consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance. Balancing estrogen levels is crucial, as both high and low levels can have undesired effects. Adding natural sources of phytoestrogens to the diet and utilizing topical products containing phytoestrogens, such as Pueraria Mirifica, can be effective approaches to restore estrogen levels and support muscle health.