What Is Estrogen Imbalance?

Christina Edwards

An estrogen imbalance is a common problem for many women. This occurs when the estrogen levels in a person's body are not what they should be. At times, there may be too much estrogen, and other times, there may not be enough. Either way, a hormone imbalance can cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches and hot flashes. Treatment often consists of lifestyle changes and hormone replacement therapy.

Hot flashes are sometimes triggered by an estrogen imbalance, particularly among menopausal women.
Hot flashes are sometimes triggered by an estrogen imbalance, particularly among menopausal women.

Along with progesterone, estrogen is one of the two main female hormones. These help form the secondary sex characteristics in females, such as the breasts. When there is either too much estrogen or not enough estrogen in a woman's body, doctor's typically refer to this as an estrogen imbalance.

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.

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There are several signs of an estrogen imbalance. Mood swings are probably one of the most noticeable signs. Women with a hormone imbalance will often be irritable and depressed.

Older women may have an estrogen deficiency as they begin menopause.
Older women may have an estrogen deficiency as they begin menopause.

High estrogen levels in the body, sometimes referred to as estrogen dominance, increase the production of certain other hormones and chemicals in the body. Some of these include epinephrine, seratonin, norepinephrine, and biogenic amines. High levels of epinephrine and seratonin can often cause nervousness and anxiety, while high levels of norepinephrine and biogenic amines often cause irritability and depression.

Low estrogen also cause a number of symptoms. Estrogen is necessary for the bones to absorb calcium and vitamin D — two components necessary for strong bones. When there is not enough estrogen in the body, the bones may become weak. This can often lead to a condition known as osteoporosis. Other symptoms of an estrogen imbalance include hot flashes, headaches, trouble concentrating, memory lapses, and fatigue.

There are several causes of estrogen imbalances. One of the biggest causes of an imbalance is normal female bodily changes. For example, a woman often has elevated estrogen levels around the time of ovulation. These levels will typically fall as she progresses through her cycle, and will be quite low during and just before the start of her menstrual period.

Pregnancy and menopause also result in drastic hormone fluctuation. Pregnant woman typically have very high levels of estrogen. Also, as women go through menopause, the levels of estrogen in the body will diminish.

Some scientists also argue that certain environmental pollutants, xenoestrogens, may be another cause of an estrogen imbalance. The xenoestrogens often found in pesticides for vegetables and growth hormones for livestock are believed to produce estrogen-like effects in women. Elevated levels can cause symptoms of high estrogen.

Certain lifestyle changes, such as eating nothing but organic foods, can help lower these levels. Living a healthy lifestyle in general, including exercising, can also help combat the negative effects of an estrogen imbalance. There are also certain medications, herbal supplements, and vitamins that may help regulate the levels of estrogen in the body.

Pregnant women have very high levels of estrogen.
Pregnant women have very high levels of estrogen.

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