Estrogen is one of the two primary female sex hormones, with the other being progesterone. Estrogen is absolutely essential for female reproductive health and pregnancy, and also plays a number of other roles in the body too.
The roles of estrogen in females include:
- Maturing and maintaining the reproductive system (mammary gland, uterus, vagina) (1)
- Helping prepare the uterus for pregnancy (1)
- Influencing sexual desire (linked to when a woman is most fertile) (2)
- Development of secondary sexual characteristics (3)
- Helping maintain bone health by controlling rate of bone resorption (4)
- Increasing collagen production and maintaining moisture for skin health (5)
- Improving blood flow (6) and regulating blood clotting (7)
- Regulating cholesterol levels (8)
As you can see estrogen has an extensive range of roles! So, an imbalance in this important hormone is going to cause a few health issues.
What are the signs of high estrogen in females?
- Fluid retention and weight gain, particularly around the abdomen, hips, and thighs
- Severe premenstrual syndrome symptoms
- Decreased libido (sex drive)
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Mood swings
- Fertility issues
- Noncancerous lumps in the breasts and uterus
- Sleeping issues
High estrogen can also increase the risk of more serious health complications (9), including:
What are the possible causes of high estrogen?
- Estrogen replacement therapy (used to treat menopause symptoms)
- Hormonal contraceptives
- Certain antibiotics and herbal remedies
- Obesity (increases the conversion of fat into estrogen)
- Ovarian tumors
- Liver disease (inhibits the normal breakdown of extra estrogen)
- Genetic variation
- Poor nutrition
- Excess alcohol and drug use
- Low progesterone levels (causes a hormone imbalance)
How can I check my estrogen levels?
We offer several different tests to measure your estradiol levels. Estradiol is the strongest of the three estrogen hormones. These tests just require a small blood sample collected from a simple finger prick in the privacy of your own home. Test results are available through our online portal, thereby avoiding the need to make any doctor or lab appointments. Of course, you may also wish to discuss your results with your healthcare professional, and this is highly recommended if you receive any results that fall outside the normal range.
The Estradiol (E2) test measures just your estradiol levels. For females of reproductive age, it is helpful to know what stage of your menstrual cycle your sample was collected at, as normal levels vary throughout each cycle.
There are various combination tests available for females that include estradiol along with other important hormones:
- Women’s Fertility Panel (5 biomarkers)
- Women’s Health Hormone Panel (12 biomarkers)
- Women’s Hormone Panel (E2, FSH, LH, Prolactin)
- Women’s Perimenopause Panel (E2, FSH, LH)
- Women’s Postmenopause Panel (E2, P4)
What are ways to lower high estrogen?
- Lose weight (if overweight)
- Moderate exercise may be beneficial (10)
- Follow a healthy diet, particularly with high fiber (11) and only limited alcohol (12)
- Change medications if they could be the cause of elevated estrogen (discuss any medication changes with your healthcare provider)
- Limit certain animal products, including red and processed meats (13)
1. Oestradiol. You and your Hormones, an education resource from the Society for Endocrinology. Reviewed Mar 2018.
2. University of California – Santa Barbara. “Hormone levels and sexual motivation among young women.” ScienceDaily. 25 April 2013.
3. Estrogen’s Effects on the Female Body. John Hopkins Medicine.
4. Seifert-Klauss V & Prior JC. (2010) Progesterone and Bone: Actions Promoting Bone Health in Women. J Osteoporos. 2010: 845180.
5. Shah MG, Maibach HI. (2001) Estrogen and skin. An overview. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2(3): 143-50.
6. Prior JC. (2011). Progesterone for Symptomatic Perimenopause Treatment – Progesterone politics, physiology and potential for perimenopause. Facts Views Vis Obgyn, 3 (2), 109-120.
7. Mendelsohn ME (2002). Protective effects of estrogen on the cardiovascular system. Am J Cardiol. 89(12, S1): 12-17.
8. What is Estrogen? Hormone Health Network. Updated August 2018.
9. Leonard J (reviewed by Biggers A) (2018) What are the symptoms of high estrogen? Medical News Today.
10. Kossman DA, et al. (2011) Exercise lowers estrogen and progesterone levels in premenopausal women at high risk of breast cancer. J Appl Physiol (1985). 111(6): 1687-93.
11. Cui X, et al. (2010) Dietary fat, fiber, and carbohydrate intake and endogenous hormone levels in premenopausal women. Horm Cancer. 1(5): 265-276.
12. Erol A, et al. (2019) Sex hormones in alcohol consumption: a systematic review of evidence. Addict Biol. 24(2): 157–169.
13. Harmon B, et al. Estrogen levels in serum and urine of vegetarian and omnivore premenopausal women. Public Health Nutr. 17(9): 2087–2093.