What Are the Symptoms and Treatments of High Estrogen Levels?

Jonathan Vellinga, MD

Estrogen, the most well-known female sex hormone, is an important part of every person’s body. It is a formative part of the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and helps to regulate cognitive, bone, and cardiovascular health in both men and women (1, 2). However, a wave of hormonal dysfunction called "estrogen dominance” has been affecting a number of women (and even some men). Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), endometriosis, fibroids, and even mood disorders have all been linked to estrogen dominance.

Treatments of High Estrogen Levels

What is estrogen dominance?

Estrogen dominance is a term for a higher-than-normal level of estrogen in comparison to other sex hormones in the body, which can mean either an abundance of estrogen in the body or a lack of other hormones (4). While men generally have a set amount of estrogen that does not waver much and estrogen dominance is relatively rare, they may still experience estrogen dominance due to environmental and genetic factors (5).

Women of reproductive age experience cycling hormones during the menstrual cycle. During the two phases (follicular and luteal), estrogen levels vary greatly (6). The follicular phase (first day of the menstrual period through ovulation) lasts about 14 days, though it may be longer. Estrogen levels steadily rise through this phase, peaking just before ovulation (6). At this point, the body enters the luteal phase, during which estrogen should dip and progesterone rises and peaks. Estrogen should peak again (though much less than in the follicular phase), both hormones should reduce greatly to a baseline, menstruation occurs, and the cycle begins again (6). However, estrogen may begin to dominate other hormones, leading either to too much estrogen or too little progesterone, etc. This may occur due to a number of factors, including increased production of estrogen, altered estrogen metabolism and expulsion from the body, or decreased progesterone production (4).

What are the symptoms of estrogen dominance?

There are many hormonal conditions and disorders that have estrogen dominance at the root of their development, including fibroids, increased or severe PMS, endometriosis, and mood disorders, which will be discussed at length below. However, those who do not develop disorders but still have estrogen dominance may still experience a wide range of unpleasant symptoms. While these symptoms vary greatly, the most common include (2, 13):

  • Bloating

  • Swollen or tender breasts

  • Decreased libido

  • Irregular periods, spotting, heavy bleeding

  • Mood swings

  • General fatigue or sleepiness

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Headaches

  • Anxiety

  • Weight gain

  • Hair loss

  • Cold hands or feet

  • Memory problems or “Brain Fog”

The most common symptoms in men include infertility, breast tissue growth, and erectile dysfunction (2). It can also put you at higher risk for thyroid diseases, blood clots, heart attack and stroke, and breast or ovarian cancer (13).

What are the risk factors for estrogen dominance?

Unfortunately, there are many factors at play in our modern life that put us at risk for estrogen dominance. The first is the astonishing number of xenoestrogens that we are all exposed