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June 17, 2018

Causes of Elevated Estrogen Levels

Elevated estrogen and mood swings

Do you look like the woman in the photograph?  If so, you might have elevated estrogen levels. Are people also avoiding you, because you’re not pleasant? Are your breasts tender? Do you find yourself in a brain fog and crying for no reason?  If so, you may have to much estrogen, or at least too much estrogen relative to progesterone.

Elevated estrogen levels can be caused by a number of factors and it is surprising how many factors are related to our environment. Since that’s the case there are important steps you can take to avoid elevated estrogen levels.

Estrogen and Progesterone

Let’s review the function of estrogen and progesterone.

Estrogen and progesterone are the two female hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.  Estrogen and progesterone have opposing effects on the body.  They are yin and yang. Estrogen causes tissue growth or proliferation while progesterone counter acts this growth.  Estrogen is associated with endometrial and breast cancer, while progesterone prevents these cancers.  Estrogen reduces vascular tone while progesterone restores vascular tone. They counterbalance one another. Thus, an essential balance between the two is essential throughout a woman’s adult life.

Causes of High Estrogen Levels

  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Low progesterone levels (estrogen dominance)
  • Excess body fat
  • Exposure to xenoestrogens in the environment and industrial solvents
  • Consumption of commercially raised cattle and poultry
  • Consumption of fruits and vegetables treated with pesticides
  • Stress

From age 35 to 50 estrogen levels decline about 35%, but progesterone declines 75%.  Therefore, even though estrogen has declined it remains elevated relative to progesterone.  This is called estrogen dominance.  Estrogen dominance can also occur with normal and elevated levels of estrogen as well. So estrogen dominance is a relative elevation of estrogen – relative to progesterone.

High estrogen levels can be caused by estrogen replacement therapy if the dose of estrogen is excessive.  That is easy to address.  Simply lower the estrogen dose.  A major goal with hormone replacement therapy is to keep estrogen and progesterone levels in critical balance with one another.

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Fat promotes estrogen production, and excess body fat is associated with elevated estrogen levels in women. Proper nutrition is important. Avoid high glycemic foods that promote fat gain and exercise to keep your metabolism elevated aiding in controlling body weight.

Strength exercises can be very helpful as adding more muscle increases metabolism allowing for the burning of more calories when at rest. Also high intensity interval training changes the hormonal balance of the body in positive way that leads to burning of more fat. But the biggest bang for the buck in terms of losing fat comes from dietary changes. Insulin promotes fat storage. Keep insulin levels down by eating low glycemic foods.

Xenoestrogens are compounds used for industrial purposes that possess estrogen like activity on the tissues.  These compounds are ubiquitous and are found in plastics, pesticides, lotions, and even in foods as preservatives. And, they are found in cosmetics.

Commercially raised cattle and poultry are treated with growth hormone and estrogen like hormones that are passed onto humans when consumed.  These animals frequently are given antibiotics that can lead to elevated estrogen levels when consumed by humans.  Buy meat from grass-fed animals. Fruits and vegetables are treated with pesticides – that’s one reason to carefully wash all fruit and vegetables before eating.

Stress puts a strain on the adrenal glands indirectly lowering progesterone production leading to estrogen dominance. Stress is every where. You are not going to avoid it so develop strategies to better manage it. Do not overextend yourself and try to manage too many things at one time which is a big source of undo stress.

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elevated estrogen levelsSymptoms of Elevated Estrogen and Estrogen Dominance

  • Rapid weight gain
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood swings
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Insomnia
  • Brain fog
  • Weepiness
  • Anxiety/depression

What to Do

If you suspect you have elevated estrogen levels see your physician for evaluation.  Hormone levels can be measured by blood tests (some physicians prefer saliva tests). If your estrogen level is normal but have low progesterone then replacement of progesterone will improve symptoms of estrogen dominance.

If both estrogen and progesterone are low then combination hormonal therapy will be necessary to rid you of the symptoms of high estrogen levels.

Lowering Elevated Estrogen Levels

Look closely at the skin products you use, and products you come in contact with at home and at work, and see if they might contain xenoestrogens.  The Endocrine Society has published a 56 page report “Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement” that details the many types of endocrine disruptors, what products they’re in, and their effects on the body. Though it’s not completely possible, try to avoid plastics as much as possible especially those flimsy bottled-water containers.

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Buy organically grown fruits and vegetables and consume meat from grass-fed or free-range animals and poultry.  Lose body fat with sensible nutrition (low-glycemic) and exercise (aerobic and resistance training) and consider stress management techniques if your stress level is excessive (yoga and deep-breathing exercises).

Do these things and you will find you are no longer pulling your hair out.

See The 5 B’s and More: Excess Estrogen Symptoms”, Avoid Symptoms of Low Progesterone, and How to Overcome Estrogen Deficiency Symptoms”.


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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

  1. Very informative post. Thanks for sharing some important steps that people can take to avoid excessive estrogen.

  2. Yes. This is indeed an informative post. This will help people to know some important steps that they must do to avoid excessive estrogen. And I also believe that prevention is better that cure.

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