Estrogen is a hormone found in both men and women. It is known as the “female” hormone. Women usually have higher levels of estrogen, but sometimes levels can be unbalanced.
What does estrogen do?
Estrogen helps initiate sexual development. It also helps regulate the urine tract, reproduction system, skin, muscles, breasts, bone, brain, heart and blood vessels, hair on body, pelvic muscles, and mucous membranes.
Estrogen can help with fertility, proper immune function, and regulating blood sugar.
There are different things that can cause hormone imbalance. When estrogen is the dominant hormone, it is estrogen dominance. This is when levels of testosterone and progesterone are too low. This causes estrogen to take over as the main hormone.
This can develop naturally. It can be caused by certain medications such as estrogen replacement therapy, which is usually a treatment of menopause. Breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and polycystic ovarian syndrome can all cause estrogen imbalance. Nutrient deficiencies like vitamin B, magnesium, or vitamin E can cause estrogen imbalance too.
Symptoms of High Estrogen
If you have high estrogen you could experience a lot of different symptoms. You could experience bloating, breast tenderness, increased PMS syndromes, irregular menstrual periods, infertility, or decreased sex drive.
Other symptoms are fibrocystic lumps, and decreased sex drive. High estrogen can cause mood swings, headaches, anxiety, panic attacks, weight gain, hair loss, cold hands, cold feet, trouble sleeping, sleepiness, fatigue, and memory problems.
Having higher estrogen levels can put you at a higher risk for blood clots and stroke. It can also cause thyroid dysfunction.
Natural Ways To Lower Estrogen
Your diet can help lower your estrogen levels. Eating whole, nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables, and fruits can help encourage healthy estrogen levels. A Mediterranean diet rich in fish, vegetables, fruits, and legumes has been shown to help balance estrogen.
A fiber rich diet full of whole grains.
Plant-based diets have shown to help lower levels and reduce risk of certain cancers. Foods like flaxseed, whole food soy, and cruciferous vegetables can help.
Limiting or avoiding red meats, high fat processed foods, and refined carbohydrates is beneficial.
Limiting the amount of caffeine you drink can also help. This link between estrogen levels and caffeine intake can be mostly based on your genetics.
Limit alcohol intake.
Other things you can do to help balance your estrogen levels is to make sure you are getting good sleep every night. As an adult you should be getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
You will want to decrease stress. Decreasing stress can be beneficial in overall health. You can decrease stress by meditation, yoga, reading a book, journaling, listening to music, or any other activity that gives you joy and peace.
Losing excess body fat can help balance your hormones. This can help stop excess estrogen from circulating in your body. Losing excess weight will lose your body’s ability to store and produce excess estrogen.
Daily exercise can help with losing excess weight, as well as help prevent chronic diseases. Don’t over exercise or that can do harm to your hormones as well. Aim for thirty to forty five minutes about five days a week.
Diagnosing Estrogen Imbalance
Checking estrogen levels can be done with a blood test. This can be done through a lab draw, or a home hormone check. An at home hormone check is done with a self collection blood sample. Diagnosing your levels is dependent on your age.
Having balanced hormones is key for many systems in your body to work properly as they should. Finding out if you have high or low levels of hormones can help alleviate your symptoms they may be causing as well as lower your risk of certain types of cancers or thyroid dysfunction.
Diet, exercise, and healthy habits can help manage your hormone levels naturally. You can also try medications if that is what your doctor thinks is best. In rare cases your doctor may want to do surgery to remove your ovaries, so your body stops making estrogen. This would be done if other treatments are not working, you have a family history of certain types of cancers, or you have a specific gene mutation that puts you more at risk.