A Guide to High Estrogen Symptoms

Medically Reviewed By Kevin Martinez, M.D.
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High estrogen levels can cause many different symptoms. These include weight gain, fatigue, and sexual dysfunction. The symptoms, causes, and treatment of high estrogen levels will vary depending on whether a person was assigned female or male at birth.

This article discusses the symptoms of high estrogen in females and males. It also looks at the causes and complications of high estrogen, as well as the treatment options.

Sex and gender exist on a spectrum. This article uses the terms “female” and/or “male” to refer to sex that was assigned at birth. 

Learn more about the difference between sex and gender here.

High estrogen symptoms in females

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Estrogen is a hormone that is responsible for the development of female sexual characteristics. It is also the hormone that is associated with the female reproductive system.

The symptoms of high estrogen in females include:

If you are experiencing symptoms of high estrogen, contact your doctor.

Learn more about the functions of estrogen.

High estrogen symptoms in males

Many people think of estrogen as a “female” hormone. However, it is present in everyone, regardless of their sex. In males, estrogen plays a role in sex drive, erectile function, and sperm production.

The symptoms of high estrogen in males include:

  • Gynecomastia: This is the term for enlarged breasts in males. The breast area swells and becomes larger than it typically would be. In some people, this also produces tenderness and pain in the area.
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED): ED is a condition in which it is difficult to get or maintain an erection. It is a common condition, especially among older males.
  • Infertility: Male infertility occurs when an issue with your sperm affects your ability to deliver healthy sperm to fertilize an egg.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.

Causes of high estrogen

Hormone levels fluctuate often throughout life. Times when fluctuation is common in females include:

  • puberty
  • during the menstrual cycle
  • during pregnancy
  • during menopause

For males, estrogen levels can become higher if a drop occurs in testosterone levels.

If the levels of estrogen become higher than any of the other hormones in a male or female, this is called estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is associated with various medical conditions, such as:

  • breast and uterine cancers
  • fibroids
  • endometriosis
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

The risk factors for estrogen dominance include:

  • obesity
  • stress
  • excessive alcohol consumption

Learn more about PCOS.

Complications of high estrogen

Common adverse effects of high estrogen levels include:

More severe complications may include:

High estrogen levels can exacerbate the symptoms of epilepsy and asthma. They can also increase the risk of breast cancer and cervical cancer.

Treatment for high estrogen

The treatment for high estrogen typically involves addressing the underlying cause.

For estrogen dominance that is not due to medication or a medical condition, a doctor may recommend certain lifestyle changes. These will vary among individuals depending on their current lifestyle, but examples include:

  • getting regular exercise
  • eating an anti-inflammatory diet that includes foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory botanicals
  • having a good intake of fiber
  • eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage
  • avoiding the excessive use of alcohol
  • managing stress levels as much as possible

If your high estrogen levels are due to medication, the doctor may recommend discontinuing it. In some cases, they may prescribe an alternative medication.

Learn more about an anti-inflammatory diet.

Summary

High estrogen levels can cause many different symptoms. In females, these include weight gain, issues with the menstrual cycle, and a decrease in or loss of sex drive. In males, they include sexual dysfunction and infertility.

High estrogen levels have many possible causes, including medications, certain medical conditions, and natural hormone fluctuations during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.

The treatment may involve lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and changes to your eating plan. The doctor may also recommend that you discontinue a medication or try an alternative if that is the cause.

If you have symptoms of high estrogen levels, it is advisable to contact a doctor.

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Medical Reviewer: Kevin Martinez, M.D.
Last Review Date: 2022 Aug 18
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