Estrogen is a sex hormone that is crucial to the body’s functioning. Abnormal levels can have a wide range of consequences for one’s health. High estrogen levels, for example, can lead to weight gain, depression, and severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women.
Males have estrogen as well, although in much lesser levels. It might be difficult to get an erection if your estrogen levels are higher than they should be.
Estrogen levels increase and fall naturally to some extent, but if they remain continuously high, more significant issues might arise. Estrogen dominance occurs when estrogen levels in females are higher than progesterone levels.
Continue reading to discover more about the signs and symptoms of high estrogen levels, as well as the causes.
Gender and sex exist on a spectrum. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to the sex assigned at birth. To learn more, visit here.
Estrogen is an important hormone for both male and female sexual development and health.
Estrogen is divided into three types:
- Estradiol: This is the most powerful type of estrogen, and it is found in the highest quantity in women of reproductive age. This kind of estrogen is used by doctors to assess the health of the ovaries.
- Estrone: In males, this is the most common kind of estrogen. After menopause, it is also the predominant type of estrogen in females. Estrone is produced by the ovaries, placenta, testicles, and adipose tissue by androstenedione or androgens.
- Estriol: This kind of estrogen is produced by the placenta and increases during pregnancy. As the fetus grows, the quantity of estriol produced rises.
Estrogen levels can impact various parts of the body, including the reproductive system, skin, hair, bones, muscles, brain, and breast tissue, whether they rise or fall. Because everyone has some breast tissue, fluctuations can also have these consequences in men.
Estrogen levels might become too high for a variety of causes. They may rise as a result of the following factors:
- changes in how the body excretes estrogen
- changes in how the body breaks estrogen down
- an overproduction of estrogen
Any of the aforementioned factors might result in a hormonal imbalance. Estrogen dominance occurs in females when estrogen levels are high relative to progesterone levels, which is one of the other important female sex hormones.
Estrogen dominance can be caused by a variety of circumstances, including:
- Stress: Cortisol levels rise as a result of stress. When cortisol levels are regularly high, this hormone can deplete progesterone levels, which can lead to estrogen imbalances.
- Medications: Some drugs might increase estrogen levels while decreasing progesterone levels.
- Health conditions: Estrogen dominance is linked to or caused by a number of health issues. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and certain cancers are among them. Insulin resistance raises estrogen levels as well.
- Alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol use elevates estradiol levels and makes it more difficult for the body to digest estrogen.
- Obesity: Because adipose tissue creates estrone, having a greater body weight can result in increased levels of estrogen.
- Dysbiosis: Intestinal dysbiosis occurs when a person’s large intestine has too many dangerous bacteria species or not enough helpful bacteria species. Some forms of gut bacteria can impair the body’s ability to eliminate excess estrogen, resulting in greater amounts in the body.
- Xenoestrogen exposure: If these compounds enter the body, they act like estrogen. Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, which are found in certain plastics, are two examples. Some personal care items, such as soaps and shampoos, include phthalates.
If testosterone levels fall below a certain threshold, estrogen levels in guys might become too high in relation to the quantity of testosterone in the body.
Males and females are affected differently by high estrogen levels.
Excess estrogen in females can result in:
- fibroids in the uterus
- fibrocystic lumps in the breasts
- low sex drive
- low mood or anxiety
- weight gain, especially around the hips and waist
- heavy or light periods
- worse PMS than usual
Other signs and symptoms to consider are:
Too much estrogen in males can lead to:
- difficulty getting or maintaining an erection
- enlarged breasts, known as gynecomastia
According to a 2018 study high estrogen levels are also associated with increased rates of depression in males.
A person’s chance of developing breast cancer increases if their estrogen levels are continuously high over a lengthy period of time.
- hypocalcemia, which is low calcium
- breast cancer
- cervical cancer
- high blood pressure
- blood clots
In a 2017 study in South Korea, researchers discovered a link between high levels of free estriol and a higher risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
Diagnostic testing may not be necessary to prove that the estrogen ratio is out of balance in females who display indications of estrogen dominance. This is because many of the estrogen-reduction suggestions that doctors may offer are typically favorable to overall health and unlikely to cause damage.
If high estrogen levels are caused by an underlying medical condition, a doctor may order testing to identify whether there is an imbalance and confirm the main cause. Estriol levels are also monitored in high-risk pregnancies by doctors.
Doctors can test for all three kinds of estrogen in females using blood tests. Only estradiol and estrone are measured in men.
Treatment for high estrogen levels is determined on the underlying cause. Doctors may propose lifestyle adjustments to lessen estrogen dominance that is not caused by a specific medical condition. People can attempt the following:
- reducing stress
- limiting or stopping alcohol consumption
- avoiding xenoestrogens, such as BPA in plastics
- avoiding any natural or herbal remedies that may increase estrogen
- eating an anti-inflammatory or vegetarian diet
- eating more soy, flaxseed, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and kale
- getting more omega-3 fatty acids in the diet or taking a supplement
- maintaining a moderate weight
If a drug or supplement causes high estrogen, a person should talk to their doctor about other options. It’s important to never adjust a medication’s dose or stop taking it without first visiting a doctor.
If a person has high estrogen levels and a doctor feels it is important to reduce them — maybe to avert long-term harm to the body — aromatase inhibitors may be prescribed. Aromatase is an enzyme that aids in the conversion of androgens to estrogen in the body.
To inhibit the signal that begins estrogen production in the ovaries, doctors may give a synthetic type of luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH). If estrogen is worsening a potentially life-threatening condition, such as metastatic breast cancer, they may suggest LHRH.
In females, high estrogen levels can induce irregular or heavy periods, weight gain, exhaustion, and fibroids. They can induce breast tissue development, infertility, and difficulties achieving or keeping an erection in men.
By collecting a medical history and, in certain situations, doing blood tests, a doctor can detect high estrogen levels. The doctor will be able to propose the best therapy choices after they have determined the problem. The therapy choices will be determined by the reason of the high estrogen levels.
Changes in lifestyle and nutrition may lower the amount of estrogen produced by the body or increase the amount it breaks down and excretes. Anyone with chronic or troubling symptoms, on the other hand, should seek medical advice.