Hormones are responsible for a lot of bodily functions. Your body works as it should when your hormones are balanced. But your body produces a lot of different hormones. Even if only one of them is lower or higher than normal levels, it can cause different problems to your health. So, what could happen when there’s too much estrogen? Read on to know more about the symptoms and causes of high estrogen levels.
What is estrogen
Estrogen is a “female” sex hormone. But despite being all as such, males also produce estrogen, just in smaller amounts compared to females.
In females, estrogen plays a big role in initiating sexual development. It also regulates the menstrual cycle and reproductive system, along with other female sex hormone progesterone.
On the other hand, males need estrogen for their sexual function.
Abnormal levels of estrogen can disrupt many bodily functions and cause some health problems.
What are the causes of estrogen dominance
There are several factors that can lead to estrogen dominance. These include:
- Obesity. Fat tissue produces estrone; thus, excess body weight can lead to higher levels of estrogen.
- Health conditions. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and certain cancers are linked to estrogen dominance. Insulin resistance may also lead to too much estrogen.
- Stress. Cortisol levels increase when you’re stressed. This hormone can decrease progesterone levels and lead to estrogen dominance.
Certain medications, and even alcohol consumption are known to cause an increase in estrogen levels.
What are the signs and symptoms
Common signs of estrogen dominance in women may include:
- weight gain, especially around the waist and hips
- disrupted sleep
- hair loss
- swelling and tenderness in the breasts
- fibrocystic lumps in your breasts
- fibroids in the uterus
- low sex drive
- irregular menstrual periods
- worse premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms
- mood swings
- anxiety and panic attacks
When there’s an imbalance in estrogen and testosterone levels in men, their sexual development and functions may be affected.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance in men may include:
- Gynecomastia. Estrogen may stimulate growth of breast tissue. High levels of estrogen in men may then cause gynecomastia, a condition leading to larger breasts.
- Erectile dysfunction, or difficulty getting or maintaining an erection
- Infertility. Estrogen is also important in the development of healthy sperm cells. High estrogen levels can lead to a decrease in sperm levels, thus causing fertility issues.
How can it be treated
The doctor may ask you to take a blood test if they think you have high estrogen. And depending on the cause, they might also prescribe medications or lifestyle changes to help manage your estrogen levels.
For those who have a certain type of cancer that’s sensitive to estrogen or are at high risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer, the doctor may recommend oophorectomy. It’s a surgical procedure wherein the ovaries are removed, since they produce most of the estrogen in female bodies. Removing the ovaries reduces estrogen levels, and causes surgical menopause.
Vellinga, J. (August 3, 2021). What Are the Symptoms and Treatments of High Estrogen Levels? Temecula Center. https://www.tcimedicine.com/post/what-are-the-symptoms-and-treatments-of-high-estrogen-levels
Holland, K. (April 19, 2018). Signs and Symptoms of High Estrogen. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/high-estrogen
Estrogen dominance & Progesterone deficiency. (January 29, 2020). The Holland Clinic. https://thehollandclinic.com/perimenopause/estrogen-dominance-progesterone-deficiency/
Martin, L. (January 31, 2023). What are the symptoms of high estrogen? MedicalNewsToday. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323280