High Estrogen doesn’t only affect females (it is a female sex hormone after all!), but also males (surprise surprise, Estrogen is present in males too).
For men, most of the symptoms of high Estrogen are usually towards the physical features. However, for women high Estrogen levels really turn her health upside down!
Some of the highly prevalent effects of high Estrogen in women include heavy and painful periods, heavy hips and thighs, big breasts or breast lumps, and mood swings.
In this post, I will share what it means to have high Estrogen, what causes Estrogen dominance, signs that you should take note of, and what you can do about it! Let’s dive in.
Estrogen: A Hormone of the Women
Well not exactly! As I just said, Estrogen is also present in men and in small amounts, it is vital for their health too. But, more importantly Estrogen is a hormone of the women, because it is responsible for providing female body characteristics such as the pear shaped body, growth of breasts, pubic hair, and some other essential features.
Along with Progesterone (another female sex hormone), Estrogen practically controls a woman’s menstrual cycle, menstrual flow, and her overall reproductive system health.
However, the role of Estrogen doesn’t end here. It also communicates with and regulates the functioning of our vital body systems such as Metabolism, Circulatory System, Bones, Mood and Mental Wellness. Learn here about the functions of Estrogen in your body.
That’s why when the levels of Estrogen are disturbed (low or high), it poorly affects our health in nearly every aspect.
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What causes Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance can happen in two ways:
- Estrogen is absolutely high. This means that your body has much more Estrogen than it should normally have.
- Estrogen is not so high, but Progesterone is very low. This really leads to high Estrogen levels relative to Progesterone. And this kind of hormone imbalance often leads to its own set of inconvenient health symptoms.
Now, let’s dig in the reasons of high Estrogen levels inside your body:
1. Liver diseases
In majority of the cases, a malfunctioning liver is the primary cause of high Estrogen inside the body. In fact, for males; liver is to be blamed for high Estrogen.
This is because, liver is where Estrogen gets neutralised and disposed off from the body.
And when it doesn’t work properly; you end up accumulating all that you should have gotten rid of!
2. Hormonal contraceptive or Birth Control Pills
Some of the birth control pills contain synthetic estrogen. And when you take it on regular basis, it really disturbs the natural hormone balance that your body should have.
Fatty tissues are capable of generating natural Estrogen. And when you have high levels of fat, it leads to excessive Estrogen in your body.
You may be exposed to high levels of Estrogen as a fetus. Or the genetic factors may be passed down to you from your parents.
During menopause, progesterone production drops significantly and Estrogen may stay as such or decrease just a little.
This often leads to relative high Estrogen (higher as compared to Progesterone) and hence hormone imbalance.
6. Ovarian tumors
They can lead to excessive and unabated production of Estrogen, leading to high estrogen levels.
7. Endocrine Disrupting Materials
On daily basis we are exposed to numerous chemicals in the form of food ingredients, environmental chemicals, and those in personal care products.
Artificial fragrances, materials such as plastic, synthetic colours, and preservatives often mimic the natural Estrogen in our body. This creates an too much Estrogen.
What are the tests to check Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance test can be done by different methods:
1. Blood Test
One way is through a blood test. A sample of blood is taken from a person and then analyzed. This is used for regularly menstruating women. The egg produced by the woman in turn produces a form of estrogen that is then tested for.
2. Saliva Test
Alternatively, doctors could perform a saliva test. This is used to evaluate the type of estrogen a woman will produce after menopause.
3. Urine Test
Finally, there’s also the dried urine test. This measures estrogen metabolites in urine. That is, the by-products of the hormone, estrogen, are produced.
Estrogen has different forms, and in a woman with normal levels of the hormones, the expected result is shown in the table below:
|Prepubescent female (before puberty)||Undetectable – 29 pg/mL||Undetectable – 20 pg/mL|
|Pubescent female(at puberty)||10 – 200 pg/mL||Undetectable – 350 pg/mL|
|Premenopausal female(before menopause)||17 – 200 pg/mL||15 – 350 pg/mL|
|Postmenopausal female(after menopause)||7 – 40 pg/mL||<10 pg/mL|
The measurements are taken in a picogram (10−12 of a gram) per milliliter.
Signs and symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
Now that you understand the role of Estrogen in our body, it is time to know the signs of high Estrogen levels or Estrogen dominance.
These symptoms are actually an indication of high Estrogen relative to Progesterone in her body. And this usually happens during the natural hormone shifts during these phases of life.
However, some of the symptoms of Estrogen dominance are actually an indication of very high Estrogen levels in a woman’s body.
And this category specifically is not so good, simply because it creates a havoc on your health.
1. Irregular periods: Heavy Bleeding, Clots, and Short Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle is controlled by a woman’s sex hormones Estrogen and Progesterone. Therefore, hormonal imbalances will result in irregular menstrual flow and menstrual symptoms.
High Estrogen levels lead to heavy bleeding with clots, spotting in between the periods, and often prolonged flow.
So, if your period is carrying on beyond 7 days, or you need to change pad too often, or you have a cycle shorter than 21 days; then you need to pay attention to your hormone balance and Estrogen balance.
2. Heaviness in the body: Flabby arms, big breasts, and heavy hips and thighs
High Estrogen levels increase the rate at which muscles get degenerated. It also stimulates water retention.
Both of this lead to flabbiness and heaviness in the body, specifically in the places that should have high muscular mass to carry your weight.
Additionally, Estrogen stimulates the growth of tissues in the breast, at hips, and thighs. This leads to increase in the size of these body parts.
3. Decreased Libido
Your libido and sexual drive is highly impacted by Estrogen levels. Both high and low levels of Estrogen can significantly lower your desire to get intimate.
4. Mood Swings: Anxiety, Irritability, and Depression
High levels of Estrogen in your body significantly effect your mental wellness. When Estrogen rages, it leads to mood swings, irritability, anxiety, restlessness, and often depression.
Estrogen imbalance poorly affects the health of your gut, leading to episodes of bloating, gas, and water retention. It also affects your appetite.
When you struggle with consistent bloating and digestive issues, you need to take a look into your hormone balance and overall digestive system health.
6. Sudden Weight Gain
You have neither changed diet, exercise nor lifestyle routines, yet you are gaining weight? Or you may notice that you have difficulty losing weight. This can be credited to Estrogen dominance in your body.
High estrogen can lead to both water retention, poor metabolism, and storage of fat. All of this contributes to weight gain in the form of water and fats. This gives a puffed up look and hard to lose weight.
Women are more prone to headaches. How about that for a fun fact? Well, add this. Anyone with higher levels of estrogen than usual is more likely to experience headaches also.
8. Hot flashes
You might experience uncontrolled body temperature in terms of high heat or sudden coldness. Some of the common symptoms are heat flashes and excessive sweating like in menopause.
9. Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Since a similar event of hormones occurs in estrogen dominance and PMS, some similar symptoms crop up also. This includes breast tenderness, headaches, acne outbreaks, and more dramatic mood swings.
10. Breast lumps
Fibrocystic lumps can develop in your breasts if the estrogen is dominant. The breast begins to feel like a lump or rope. The breast becomes tender and painful to the touch, mostly at the top or side.
11. Brain fog and memory loss
You feel confused and you have trouble recalling details. This can also be a result of high estrogen levels.
12. Fertility problems
Problems can arise with fertility due to overboard estrogen levels. To be factual, hormonal imbalances are never favorable for fertility.
However, in the case of these problematic estrogen levels, the problem is compounded. Why? Most of the women, who experience it are over 35 years of age. This is also the time of life that fertility starts to decline.
13. Excessive Hair Fall
Estrogen levels affect the growth of hair follicles and also the strength of your existing hair.
Unbalanced estrogen (both low and high) leads to dryness and hair fall. This is also related to low Iron levels or Iron deficiency that often accompanies hormone imbalance.
14. Fatigue and trouble in sleeping
High levels of estrogen can cause persistent tiredness. To make things worse, you can’t get to sleep when you even try to.
This leaves you exhausted and feeling of “tired and wired”.
15. Thyroid Dysfunction
High levels of Estrogen often affect the functioning of our endocrine system and liver such that the free thyroid hormone levels get suppressed. It is often a vicious circle as low thyroid also leads to high Estrogen and vice versa.
How can I lower my Estrogen level?
High Estrogen level can be handled at its root by making suitable changes in your diet and lifestyle.
When you start taking in foods that naturally up your levels of Progesterone and help you get rid of the excess Estrogen in your body, then you can treat your hormone imbalance. Here are some steps for you:
Food and and Lifestyle for Estrogen Dominance
Take a proper diet
- Eat natural, healthy, and wholesome food that is freshly prepared.
- Avoid processed food and artificial food products.
- Eat healthy fats and seeds.
- Include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and cauliflower, etc.
- Take probiotics and fermented foods in your diet.
Lifestyle changes to handle Estrogen Dominance
- Make your environment more friendly for healthy hormonal processes. Some chemicals in our everyday products are harmful to the health of our hormonal system, and our health by extension. For example, reduce the number of plastics you have to use, use stainless bottles and glass food containers too.
- Avoid plastic straws.
- Eliminate stress and manage your stress levels.
- Get enough sleep
- Be physically active to naturally flush excess Estrogen
- Go for Sauna and relaxing activities such as massage that can improve circulation in your body.
Hormonal imbalances like estrogen dominance always set up an unpleasant chain reaction. Worse still, there are long-term consequences that should be prevented.
Hence, you should address your estrogen dominance at once.
To your health!
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