What are the signs and symptoms of having too much estrogen?

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 at much lower 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 excessive 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.

Causes

There are a number of reasons why estrogen levels might rise. They may rise as a result of the following factors:

  • an overproduction of estrogen
  • changes in how the body breaks estrogen down
  • changes in how the body excretes 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:

  • Obesity: Because fat tissue creates estrone, having excess body weight can result in increased levels of estrogen.
  • 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.
  • Alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol use elevates estradiol levels and makes it more difficult for the body to digest estrogen.
  • Dysbiosis: Intestinal dysbiosis occurs when a person’s large intestine has too many harmful 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 higher levels 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.
  • 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 ovary syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and some cancers are among them. Insulin resistance raises estrogen levels as well.

If testosterone levels fall below a certain level, estrogen levels might rise relative to the quantity of testosterone in the body.

Symptoms

high estrogen levels in girls

Males and females are affected differently by high estrogen levels.

Females

Excess estrogen in females can result in:

  • weight gain, especially around the hips and waist
  • heavy or light periods
  • worse PMS than usual
  • fatigue
  • fibroids in the uterus
  • fibrocystic lumps in the breasts
  • low sex drive
  • low mood or anxiety

Additional possible symptoms include:

Males

In males, having too much estrogen may cause:

  • enlarged breasts, known as gynecomastia
  • difficulty getting or maintaining an erection
  • infertility

High estrogen levels have also been linked to increased incidence of depression in males, according to a 2018 research.

Its effects on the human body

Estrogen is a crucial hormone for both male and female sexual development and health.

Estrogen impacts mood, controls cholesterol levels, and supports bone health. This hormone affects puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause in females.

Estrogen is classified 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 from androstenedione or androgens.
  • Estriol: This type of estrogen is produced by the placenta and peaks 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 males.

Complications 

If a person has high estrogen levels for a lengthy period of time, they are more likely to:

  • high blood pressure
  • blood clots
  • hypocalcemia, which is low calcium
  • breast cancer
  • cervical cancer

High estrogen levels can exacerbate pre-existing illnesses like asthma or epilepsy.

In 2017, a South Korean study discovered a link between high levels of free estriol and a higher risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Diagnosis and tests

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 harm.

If high estrogen levels are caused by an underlying medical issue, a doctor may order testing to identify whether there is an imbalance and confirm the main cause. Estriol levels are also evaluated 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 males.

Treatment

Treatment for excessive 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 problem. People can attempt the following:

  • 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
  • reducing stress
  • limiting or stopping alcohol consumption
  • avoiding xenoestrogens, such as BPA in plastics
  • avoiding any natural or herbal remedies that may increase estrogen

If a drug or supplement causes high estrogen, a person should talk to their doctor about other options. It’s critical to never adjust a medication’s dose or stop taking it without first visiting a doctor.

If a person has excessive estrogen levels and a doctor feels it is vital 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 illness, such as metastatic breast cancer, they may suggest LHRH.

Conclusion

In females, high estrogen levels can cause 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 elevated 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 excessive 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.

Sources

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538260/
  • https://labtestsonline.org/tests/estrogens
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5332840/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323280
  • https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTHLIBRARY/tools/estrogen-dominance.aspStanikova, D., et al. (2018). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29107881
  • https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/estrogen