What Are the Effects of High Estrogen?

Helena Reimer

There are many negative effects of high estrogen that can affect both the mind and body. Some of the common symptoms include headaches, fatigue, hot flashes, menstrual problems, and cancer. It can also result in mood swings, memory loss, anxiety, and depression. Although it is a female hormone, it is also present in men and can lead to gynecomastia and heart problems.

Birth control pills may elevate estrogen levels.
Birth control pills may elevate estrogen levels.

There are three predominate estrogens, known as estrone, estradiol, and estriol, which are balanced by another female hormone known as progesterone. Both of these hormones are essential in preparing the womb for pregnancy. Estrogen is also very important for good bone health and can help to prevent osteoporosis by helping to maintain a healthy level of calcium in the bones. In some cases, however, the body manufactures excess amounts of estrogen and not enough progesterone to balance it. As a result, it creates high estrogen levels, also known as estrogen dominance.

Men with high estrogen levels are at risk of breast gynecomastia.
Men with high estrogen levels are at risk of breast gynecomastia.

High estrogen levels generally occur during a woman's menstrual cycle, which is often the reason for mood swings, irritability, and emotional instability during this time. During menstruation, many women tend to suffer from headaches, fatigue, bloating, abdominal cramps, and sore breasts. Irregular, skipped, or heavy cycles are also effects of an estrogen imbalance. Birth control pills are often used to help regulate irregular menstrual cycles; however, they may be high in estrogen, which can result in elevated estrogen levels and infertility.

Hot flashes are a symptom of high estrogen levels as well as menopause.
Hot flashes are a symptom of high estrogen levels as well as menopause.

Anxiety, depression, memory loss, and low self-confidence are common signs of an estrogen imbalance. Women who go through menopause can also suffer symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. During or after menopause, women often resort to estrogen replacement therapy to help them deal with the symptoms. In some cases, this therapy can cause the estradiol levels to rise, putting these women at risk for other health problems such as a stroke and cancer.

Estrogen levels can vary greatly during the course of the typical menstrual cycle.
Estrogen levels can vary greatly during the course of the typical menstrual cycle.

There is evidence to suggest that breast cancer cells can feed off of estrogen and promote its spread once it has begun. As a result, drugs are often prescribed to halt or reduce the production of estrogen in order to prevent the cancer from spreading. Other cancers that have been linked to high estrogen levels include uterine, endometrial, and ovarian cancers.

High estrogen levels often occur during the menstrual cycle.
High estrogen levels often occur during the menstrual cycle.

Excess estrogen in men is also common and can lead to heart attacks and atherosclerosis, which is the thickening of the arteries. Studies show that it can double the risk of a stroke as it promotes blood clotting. Male estrogen can also contribute to gynecomastia, which is an enlargement of the breast, and puts men with high estrogen at risk for developing breast cancer.

During menstruation, women tend to suffer abdominal cramps, headaches, and a host of other symptoms.
During menstruation, women tend to suffer abdominal cramps, headaches, and a host of other symptoms.

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Discussion Comments

bear78

Most men do not want to experience the effects of high estrogen but some men who are undergoing gender change do. High estrogen encourages breast growth which is desirable in these situations.

SarahGen

I was on estrogen replacement therapy for some time after menopause. Initially, the estrogen was very beneficial for my hot flashes and insomnia. But after several months, I started experiencing some negative mood changes. The main problem was that I was excessively emotional and irritable, not unlike when I was pregnant. My doctor took me off of the therapy soon afterward.

donasmrs

This is not the first time I'm hearing about the risk of cancer with high estrogen levels. Doctors warn women about taking estrogen supplements for long periods of time while in menopause for this reason. Although low estrogen causes problems too, particularly during menopause, very high estrogen is not good either.

Menopause estrogen supplements and birth control pills with estrogen also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke because high estrogen can cause blood clots. This is why estrogen should only be used under the close supervision of a doctor. At least that's what I think about this topic. I see some women using over the counter estrogen supplements without asking their doctors and I think that's dangerous.

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