Research hasn’t yet determined if phytoestrogens can really help with symptoms associated with menopause. Like any other supplement, phytoestrogens can have side effects and risks, so it’s important to consult a health care provider before taking any medications or supplements.
Hormonal balance is important for health. Estrogen is the primary female hormone produced in the body, and it’s responsible for many different functions.
Here are just a few things that estrogen does in the body:
- Regulates nervous system functions, maintains body temperature, and enhances the effects of endorphins (feel-good chemicals)
- Improves skin quality and prevents aging (collagen levels)
- Preserves the strength of bones and prevents bone loss
- Regulates the production of cholesterol in the liver
- Increases vaginal acidity and reduces the risk of bacterial infections
- Controls hair growth and prevents hair loss/thinning
If someone’s hormones are out of balance, it can affect their mood, sleep, and ability to conceive, and also make them more susceptible to hormone-related medical conditions. Some of these conditions include polycystic ovary syndrome, early-onset menopause, infertility, hirsutism (male-pattern hair growth), and cancer in some rare cases.
There are foods that are rich in phytoestrogen, which is similar to the estrogen produced in the body. They might help in cases of a lack of estrogen as they have somewhat similar functions, although they might also interfere with estrogen functioning itself. There is still not enough data on whether some foods can boost estrogen and what side effects phytoestrogen can cause.