What are the symptoms of estrogen dominance?

April 07, 2020

What are the symptoms of estrogen dominance?

What are the symptoms of estrogen dominance?


Estrogen is a female hormone that plays a defining role in female reproductivity. While women have more estrogen than men, males do produce smaller amounts in the testes and adrenal glands. In conjunction with progesterone, another critical hormone, estrogen, helps balance the menstrual cycle, fertility, and sexual development.


Each month in a woman's cycle, estrogen levels fluctuate. However, if amounts become too high compared to progesterone and testosterone, estrogen dominance occurs. When this happens, painful symptoms are possible, and even deeper health concerns. In this article, we'll look at the symptoms of estrogen dominance and treatments to balance estrogen. (1)


Symptoms of estrogen dominance for women

 Each person experiences different signs and symptoms of high estrogen. The symptoms also vary between men and women. In women, the following symptoms may occur, including:

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Migraines
  • Feeling anxious
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Hands and feet feeling cold
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Memory concerns
  • Insomnia
  • Losing hair
  • Stronger premenstrual syndrome (PMS)


Symptoms of estrogen dominance for men

Men can experience high estrogen levels, as well.  Another hormone men produce more of is testosterone, and balanced levels of estrogen and testosterone are crucial for sexual development and growth. Sexual function depends on healthy levels of sex hormones. If a man experiences an estrogen imbalance, the following symptoms may occur.


  • Sexual issues: Estrogen dominance may result in erectile dysfunction (ED). The condition causes men to have problems performing sexual intercourse.
  • Gynecomastia: High estrogen levels may increase breast tissue stimulation. When this happens, it may result in more massive breasts (a condition called gynecomastia). 


  • Fertility concerns: Estrogen plays a part in producing healthy sperm. Estrogen dominance could lead to low sperm levels and infertility.


Causes of estrogen dominance

The reasons for estrogen dominance vary from person to person. If levels of progesterone or testosterone are high in comparison to estrogen, a hormonal imbalance occurs. High estrogen can develop naturally.  Below are the most common reasons for high levels of estrogen.

Certain medications

Some medications can cause an estrogen imbalance. If you're experiencing menopause, a well-known treatment is estrogen replacement therapy. During menopause, levels of estrogen drop dramatically, causing painful symptoms.


Replacement therapy using estrogen creams or tablets adds back the missing estrogen to help alleviate symptoms. However, taking the wrong dose may cause estrogen levels to become problematic. Estrogen dominance is the result of improper dosing.


In addition to estrogen therapy, other medications may cause estrogen dominance, including:


  • Taking hormonal contraceptives
  • Some antibiotics used to eliminate infections
  • Specific natural or herbal remedies
  • Some medications (phenothiazines) to treat emotional and mental disorders

Certain health concerns

Genetics may contribute to estrogen dominance. Men and women with specific health issues can cause estrogen amounts to increase, including:


  • Liver disease
  • Ovarian tumors
  • Obesity


Treatment of Estrogen Dominance

The treatment of high estrogen depends on the cause of estrogen dominance. If hormone replacement therapy is the source of estrogen dominance, then speak to your healthcare professional about lowering the dose or another treatment.


When medications are causing the boosting of estrogen, having your doctor change prescriptions or lowering doses, may alleviate some of the high estrogen symptoms.

Lose weight

For those with weight concerns, changing your diet to aid weight loss may reduce high estrogen. Overweight people produce more estrogen in fat cells than those with a healthy weight.


In some cases where women are at an extremely high risk of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, the doctors may recommend removing the ovaries. When you remove the ovaries, the amount of estrogen produced lowers dramatically. It puts the woman’s body into menopause. Menopause causes low levels of estrogen.


You can treat estrogen dominance by consuming specific foods that may lower estrogen levels. Some of these foods include:

  • Whole grains
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale)
  • Red grapes
  • Flaxseeds
  • Mushrooms


Eating a high fiber diet may also help you lose weight, furthering lowering your high estrogen levels.

Diagnosing estrogen dominance

If you suspect you have high estrogen levels, see your doctor for treatment. The first step is to check estrogen levels through a simple blood test. You need a trained professional to take a blood sample to have it tested in a laboratory. The results will show if your estrogen levels are too high or too low.

Estrogen blood tests look at the different types of estrogen. The three different types of estrogen include estradiol, estriol, and estrone. (2)


Estradiol, also known as oestradiol (E2), is the strongest of the three estrogens. It helps develop the reproductive system and plays a crucial role in menstruation and fertility. Estradiol causes the ovaries to produce an egg. After the release of the egg, estradiol helps thicken the uterus lining in preparation for egg implantation.


Since estradiol is primarily produced in the ovaries, it decreases as women age and reduces significantly during menopause. (3) For women, too much oestradiol may cause the following:


  • Acne
  • Constipation
  • Low sex drive
  • Depression


When women have incredibly high estrogen dominance, it increases the risk of breast cancer and uterine cancer. High estradiol levels may lead to cardiovascular disease. For men, high estradiol may result in poor sexual function and muscle tone.


Estriol or E3 is a type of estrogen hormone. Levels are usually lower than estradiol levels in a woman's body until she becomes pregnant. At that point, estriol increases to support a healthy pregnancy.


The levels slowly increase as the baby grows and reaches a peak right before birth. If estriol reaches a peak before delivery, it may indicate premature birth. Or if estriol levels remain low during pregnancy, it may be a sign of problems with the placenta or baby.


Estrone is the weakest of the estrogen hormones. (4) It's produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands and commonly found in high quantities for menopausal women. Too much estrone may cause breast and uterine cancer tissue growth.


After diagnosing whether you have estrogen dominance, the good news is that there are treatments available. Speak to your doctor about how to reduce the symptoms of estrogen dominance. 

  1. https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/normal-testosterone-and-estrogen-levels-in-women#1
  2. https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/estradiol
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9577246
  4. https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/estriol