What is Estrogen? Low Estrogen Symptoms and High Estrogen Symptoms

What is Estrogen? Low Estrogen Symptoms and High Estrogen Symptoms

Estrogen is a hormone that plays numerous roles in the body. It exists in both males and females but is naturally higher in females. Estrogen plays a role in brain health, bone health, cardiovascular health, and numerous other body processes. In the female body, estrogen helps develop and maintain the reproductive system and breasts, pubic hair, and other female characteristics. This blog will discuss everything you need to know about estrogen.

 

What Is Estrogen?

 

Estrogens are a group of hormones that play essential roles in women's normal sexual and reproductive development. The creation of estrogens takes place in women's ovaries; however, the adrenal glands and fat cells also make small amounts of estrogen hormones.

 

Estrogen hormones exist in the male body as well. Women naturally have more estrogen than men, but estrogen is essential for men too. However, as with all hormones, the right estrogen balance in the body is critical to health.

 

What Are the Types of Estrogen?

 

Block letters showing the word estrogen

 

There are three primary types of estrogen hormones:

 

  • Estrone
  • Estradiol
  • Estriol

 

Estrone is the type of estrogen present in the female body after menopause. It is a less potent form of estrogen that the body can use to convert to other forms of estrogen if needed. Estradiol exists in both men and women and is the most common type of estrogen in women during their reproductive years. Estriol is an estrogen form that increases during pregnancy and helps the uterus grow, preparing the body for delivery.

 

What Does Estrogen Do?

 

Estrogen has many functions in the body. However, the primary role of estrogen hormones in the female body is to stimulate the growth and development of sexual characteristics and reproduction. In addition, estrogen is responsible for the changes in the female body during puberty.

 

Estrogen also regulates cholesterol levels in the body, bone growth, and several other critical metabolic processes.

 

While estrogen facilitates the changes in the body that women experience during puberty, it also influences the hormonal changes that men undergo during puberty. These changes include muscle development, deepening of the voice, and the growth of body hair.

 

In women, estrogen prepares the body for pregnancy. In men, estrogen plays a role in the growth and maturity of sperm. Estrogen is also a sex hormone that increases libido and sexual desire.

 

Typically, estrogen is the "female" hormone, while testosterone is known as the "male" hormone. However, both hormones are present in everyone's bodies. However, only the amounts of estrogen are naturally higher in female bodies, and testosterone levels are higher in male bodies.

 

Estrogen is essential for men, too, as it helps to balance testosterone and helps to regulate various sexual functions like sex drive and the production of sperm.

 

The Importance of Balancing Estrogen Levels

 

Estrogen and Progesterone on a scale

 

It is essential to maintain the right balance of estrogen levels. An estrogen imbalance can have adverse effects, such as osteoporosis, obesity, and diabetes.

 

Too much of the estrogen hormone estradiol, for example, may result in the development of acne, the loss of sex drive, issues with bone health, and depression. On the other hand, low levels of estradiol can result in weight gain and cardiovascular disease. 

 

Many health issues can result from an estrogen imbalance, such as:

 

  • Light or heavy bleeding during menstruation
  • No menstruation
  • Irregular periods
  • Low sexual drive
  • Mood changes
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Sleeping problems
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Weight gain, primarily in the hips, waist, and thighs
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Mood disorders like anxiety or depression
  • Lumps in the breast or uterus

 

In men, low estrogen levels are usually not a cause for concern. However, high estrogen levels may cause several adverse effects: infertility, gynecomastia (developing more breast tissue than average), erectile dysfunction, delayed growth during puberty, and epiphyseal closure. 

 

What Influences Estrogen Levels?

 

The same levels of estrogen in the body can differ among individuals. They also fluctuate during certain phases of life, such as puberty, pregnancy, or peri/post-menopause. The fluctuations in estrogen levels can cause specific effects, such as changes in or hot flashes.

 

Many different factors can influence your estrogen levels, such as:

  • Puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Menopause
  • Old age 
  • Weight gain or obesity
  • Strenuous exercise or activity
  • Extreme diets
  • Low-calorie intake or anorexia
  • Certain medications, such as steroids or estrogen-containing drugs
  • Foods that contain estrogen, such as soy
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • An underactive pituitary gland
  • An underactive or overactive thyroid gland
  • Tumors of the ovaries or adrenal glands 
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

 

What Are Some Common Symptoms of An Estrogen Imbalance?

 

If you have an estrogen imbalance, you could experience estrogen side effects that could be harmful to your health. However, there are similarities and differences between low estrogen symptoms and high estrogen symptoms in women.

 

Low estrogen symptoms in women include:

 

  • Tender breasts
  • Weak or brittle bones
  • Dry skin
  • Vaginal dryness or atrophy 
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Irregular periods or no periods
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Painful intercourse

 

High estrogen symptoms in women include:

 

  • Irregular periods
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Bloating
  • Tender breasts
  • Fibrocystic lumps in the breasts
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Memory problems
  • Increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

 

What Causes Lower Estrogen Levels?

 

Estrogen levels decrease as you age graphic

 

The most common cause of lower levels of estrogen is age. This is because estrogen levels naturally decrease as you age. However, low estrogen levels that aren't age-related could signify a condition.

 

Eating disorders are one common cause of low estrogen levels in women. Anorexia or bulimia can deprive the body of necessary nutrients for maintaining balanced hormone levels.

 

Autoimmune diseases can also cause low estrogen levels. In some cases, an autoimmune condition could result in your immune system attacking your ovaries, thereby preventing them from producing enough estrogen.

 

Genetic conditions like Turner syndrome (a condition that occurs when one of the X chromosomes is missing or partially missing) can also be a factor in low estrogen levels.

 

Radiation, chemotherapy, or removal of your ovaries can also significantly impact hormone levels, leading to lower than normal estrogen levels.

 

Hypothalamic amenorrhea can be another cause of low estrogen levels. This condition can occur when the body is overstressed and causes your brain to no longer release significant hormone levels. 

 

Conditions that affect the pituitary gland cause low estrogen levels, as this gland secretes hormones that tell your ovaries to produce estrogen. If the pituitary gland is not releasing these hormones, your ovaries may not have enough estrogen.

 

What Causes High Estrogen Levels?

 

While some of the symptoms of high estrogen levels and low estrogen levels are similar, the causes of these imbalances are quite different. High estrogen levels are typically caused by getting too much estrogen in the body from food or medicine, from the body producing too much estrogen, or from the body not breaking down and removing estrogen from the body efficiently.

 

Several factors can contribute to these issues.

 

Medications, such as hormone therapies intended to increase low estrogen levels may cause estrogen levels to become too high at first. In addition, contraceptives and birth control pills can also increase estrogen levels in the body.

 

Foods high in estrogen may increase estrogen levels in the body if consumed regularly. Soy is perhaps the biggest culprit, as it is naturally high in estrogen. 

 

Chemicals in the environment or commonly used products can also influence estrogen levels. These are known as "synthetic xenoestrogens," Once in the body, they begin to act like estrogen, potentially increasing estrogen levels. For example, BPA and phthalates, chemicals commonly used in making plastic, are xenoestrogens that can influence your estrogen levels. In addition, pesticides used to grow food, chemicals used in cleaning products, and chemicals in shampoos and hygiene products can also act as xenoestrogens. For this reason, make sure to use glass instead of plastic when possible, or to use BPA-free plastic, and avoid plastic water bottles and foods packaged in plastic. Also, make sure your foods are organically grown without pesticides. Finally, choose natural cleaning products and hygiene products to avoid xenoestrogen chemicals.

 

A higher body fat percentage could also cause increased estrogen levels, as fat tissue secretes estrogen.

 

Stress can influence estrogen levels by increasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol can deplete your body's ability to produce progesterone, which helps regulate estrogen levels. 

 

Poor liver health can also cause higher estrogen levels, as the liver breaks down and eliminates estrogen from the body. Poor liver function can allow for estrogen to accumulate, leading to increased estrogen levels.

 

Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase estrogen levels. Alcohol can interfere with your body's ability to properly break down and eliminate estrogen. It can also affect liver health, contributing to higher than normal estrogen levels. 

 

How to Increase Estrogen

 

Low estrogen levels are an ordinary women's health issue. However, suppose you are concerned that you may have a hormonal imbalance. In that case, please speak to your doctor and test your hormone levels. This way, you can be sure of your hormone levels rather than trying to diagnose them yourself.

 

There are several ways to increase estrogen levels, the most common of which is using medications that boost hormone levels. 

 

It is also possible to increase hormone levels naturally with specific herbs that affect women's hormonal and reproductive health.

 

Shatavari, for example, is an herb that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for women's hormonal health. It helps regulate the endocrine system, enhances immunity, and helps the body cope with physical and emotional stress.

 

Black cohosh is another common herb for women's health that has been used for centuries by Native Americans. Today, it is an active ingredient in various women's health products and helps with menopause symptoms, fertility, and hormonal balance.

 

Wild yam is a plant native to North America, Mexico, and parts of Asia. Wild yam is an herbal remedy for treating: menstrual cramps, PMS, rheumatism, and digestive problems.

 

Chasteberry (Vitex) is a powerful herb that is effective for various women's health issues: including reducing symptoms of PMS and menopause and helping to normalize estrogen and progesterone levels.

 

Evening primrose is another herb highly effective in treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms and helping to improve women's hormonal health.

 

Zuma Nutrition has combined these herbs into a single herbal formula for women's hormonal health. And using a therapeutic dose extraction process, our formula is more potent than teas, powders, or capsules.

 

Our Happy Hormones Tonic may help to balance estrogen levels, improve hormonal health, regulate the menstrual cycle, provide PMS relief, and regulate and support the health of the endocrine system.† 

 

Because these herbs help regulate hormones, they may be helpful for both low estrogen levels and high estrogen levels and help restore hormonal balance overall.

 

Summary

 

Estrogens are a group of hormones that play essential roles in women's normal sexual and reproductive development.

 

There are three primary types of estrogen hormones:

 

  • Estrone
  • Estradiol
  • Estriol

 

The manufacturing of estrogens takes place in women's ovaries; however, the adrenal glands and fat cells also make small amounts of estrogen hormones.

 

Estrogen hormones exist in the male body as well. Women naturally have more estrogen than men, but estrogen is essential for men too. However, as with all hormones, the right estrogen balance in the body is vital to health.

 

The primary role of estrogen hormones in the female body is to stimulate the growth and development of sexual characteristics and reproduction. In addition, estrogen is responsible for the changes in the female body during puberty, pregnancy, and menstruation.

 

Estrogen also regulates cholesterol levels in the body, bone growth, and several other critical metabolic processes.

 

While estrogen facilitates the changes in the body that women experience during puberty, it also influences the hormonal changes that men undergo during puberty. These changes in men include muscle development, deepening of the voice, and body hair growth. In men, estrogen also plays a role in the growth and maturity of sperm.

 

As with any hormone, it is essential to maintain the right balance of estrogen levels in the body, as too much or too little estrogen can have adverse effects, such as osteoporosis, obesity, and diabetes.

 

There are several ways to regulate estrogen levels. Hormone medications are one standard method. However, natural herbs can also affect estrogen levels and may help restore hormonal balance.

 

We recommend approaching hormonal balance holistically, taking care of the body's overall health with: 

 

  • proper diet
  • exercise
  • sleep
  • stress management

 

Also, avoid toxic exposure: especially to chemicals like BPA and phthalates, as they contain xenoestrogens that can negatively influence estrogen levels. 

 

Suppose you are concerned with your estrogen levels or hormonal health. In that case, it is best to speak with your doctor so they can run tests to see where your hormone levels are and can offer guidance on how to return your hormone levels to normal.

 

 

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538260/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6206851/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30000866/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23136064/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4027291/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4029542/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11428178/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6718646/

Products mentioned in this post

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