Those who are experiencing perimenopause may be looking for ways to alleviate symptoms and regulate estrogen levels in the body. Some medical professionals and studies believe phytoestrogens can be beneficial to balancing estrogen levels in women. However, it is widely debated whether the compounds can directly improve symptoms of perimenopause.
What is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the period in which your body begins to make the transition into menopause and indicates the end of your reproductive years. Women can experience perimenopause at a variety of different ages, normally occurring during the 40s, but some women notice changes as early as their mid-30s.
This process is caused by the level of estrogen rising and falling unevenly during the menopausal transition, resulting in lengthened or shortened menstrual cycles. Other symptoms include hot flashes, insomnia and other sleep issues, and vaginal dryness.
Understanding What Phytoestrogens Are and Where They Can be Found
Phytoestrogens are compounds with estrogen-like compounds that can be found in plants (Desmawati and Sulastri 1). Common types of phytoestrogens are isoflavones, lignans, stilbenes, and coumestans. These phytoestrogens can be found in a variety of foods including soy, lentils, flaxseed, grains, vegetables, red clover, sunflower seeds, and bean sprouts, to name a few.
The Breakdown on How Phytoestrogens Work for Perimenopause
The Controversy Behind Phytoestrogens
While some studies share the benefits of phytoestrogens on estrogen levels in the body, there are also medical professionals who argue that this compound can have adverse effects on women.
One concern is that a high intake of phytoestrogens can increase the risk of carcinogenesis—the initiation of cancer formation—due to the way in which they bind with endocrine receptors in the body in such a natural way.
Another concern is breast cancer survivors who take high levels of phytoestrogens may be at risk for recurrence due to the way the compound affects hormone levels. Though, more research is impending to further conclude this study.
Our Last Dance
Based on research and numerous studies, phytoestrogens can provide a multitude of benefits for women who are experiencing perimenopausal symptoms, and looking for ways to alleviate the discomfort that comes with it. Though, caution should be taken, just like with any health information out there, if you're interested in changing your diet and supplement intake. Discuss with your healthcare provider to create a game plan that works best for you and your body's needs.
Burgess, Lana. “Phytoestrogens: Benefits, Risks, and Food List.” Medical News Today, 17 Jan. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320630#food-list.
Desmawati, Desmawati, and Delmi Sulastri. “Phytoestrogens and Their Health Effect.” Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences, 14 Feb. 2019,
Patisaul, Heather B, and Wendy Jefferson. “The Pros and Cons of Phytoestrogens.” Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 27 Mar. 2010,
“Perimenopause.” Mayo Clinic, 25 May 2023, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-
“Phytoestrogens in Women’s Health.” Mederi Foundation 501(c)(3),
medericenter.org/resources/healthy-living/phytoestrogens-in-womens-health.html. Accessed 3 July 2023.
“Phytoestrogens.” Veteran Affairs, 24 July 2018, www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTHLIBRARY/tools/phytoestrogens.asp.