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Healthcare provider discussing how to lower estrogen with patient

How to lower estrogen: what you need to know

Medically reviewed on January 4, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, MS, RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


Table of contents


Estrogen plays a vital role in overall wellness, but as with many things in life, optimizing levels is key. While a balanced estrogen level plays a role in the body’s functions, excessive levels of this hormone can wreak havoc on one’s health [1].

Women, men, those assigned female at birth (AFAB), and those assigned male at birth (AMAB) may face complications when estrogen levels are thrown off-kilter, including the development of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) for women and AFAB, and infertility in men and AMAB [1].

Fortunately, high estrogen levels—or estrogen dominance, as it’s often called—can be mitigated through key lifestyle changes [1]. In this post, we’ll uncover the basics of high estrogen and the steps you may want to take to achieve hormonal equilibrium.

What is estrogen?

Estrogen is one of several major hormones in women and AFAB and, to a lesser degree, in men and AMAB. The three main types of estrogen are [1]:

  • Estrone
  • Estradiol
  • Estriol

Produced primarily in the ovaries and testes, estrogen has a main role in a variety of physical functions, including [2]:

  • Reproductive development, health, and functioning
  • Mood and behavior
  • Bone health [3]
  • Collagen synthesis [4]
  • Circulation and blood flow [4]
  • Cognitive function [4]
  • Blood sugar and cholesterol levels [4]

What causes high estrogen?

Estrogen levels rise, peak, and fall throughout the course of our lives. For women and AFAB, this is often felt the most distinctly before the menstrual cycle and during puberty, perimenopause, and menopause [4].

While these fluctuations are completely natural, specific circumstances can cause estrogen to surpass normal levels and lead to unpleasant symptoms as well as health and wellness issues. A more balanced level of estrogen production is important for women's health. Just as a low estrogen level can impact different functions and processes in the body, so can excess estrogen.

As we mentioned, men and AMAB can also suffer from an overload of estrogen, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll be focusing on lowering estrogen levels in females.

High estrogen in women and AFAB is typically triggered by three things [1]:

  • The body is generating more estrogen.
  • The estrogen metabolism—the body’s capacity to break down and dispel estrogen—has been compromised.
  • The medications you’re taking, such as birth control pills, are creating more estrogen in the body.

What are the symptoms of estrogen dominance?

An excess of estrogen production can result in a host of symptoms. According to the Endocrine Society, high estrogen may lead to symptoms such as [5]:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue or feeling tired
  • Irritability
  • Anxiousness
  • Depression
  • Irregular periods

What can high estrogen levels lead to?

If you suspect you have symptoms of high estrogen levels or know your levels are elevated, it’s important to take the necessary actions to put your body back in balance. High estrogen levels can contribute to, or worsen, several conditions, including [1]:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer
  • Tumors in the adrenal glands and ovaries
  • Endometrial pain
  • Insulin resistance (a precursor of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes) [6]

Can you reduce estrogen naturally?

Whether you can reduce your estrogen levels on your own or using natural methods depends on your circumstances and what has caused your estrogen levels to rise, this must be determined and addressed by a healthcare professional.

That said, various lifestyle choices and circumstances can be a factor in how the body produces and metabolizes estrogen—some of which you do have control over [1].

How to lower estrogen: 8 lifestyle changes for hormone balance

Lowering your estrogen naturally requires a touch of mindfulness and a healthy dose of commitment. Let’s have a look.

Examine your caffeine consumption

Do you look forward to your morning java even before you’ve gotten into bed for the night? We feel you.

You may want to exercise caution, however: research demonstrates that caffeine consumption can affect estrogen levels:

  • According to a small study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other research institutions, Asian females who consumed 200 milligrams or more of caffeine had elevated estrogen levels [7]. The same held true for Black females.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, white females who consumed 200 milligrams or more of caffeine demonstrated lower estrogen levels.

Does this mean you should pause or plow forward before you order that full-caffeine latte based on your ethnicity? Absolutely not (although you should always defer to your healthcare provider’s recommendations and how you feel). But the study underscores that moderating caffeine consumption is one of the tickets to better hormonal health.

Refine your diet

One study indicates a close link between dietary habits and high estrogen levels [8]. Specifically, it suggests that the standard Western diet, which includes high amounts of meat, processed foods, refined grains, and sweets, may promote higher estrogen levels. Furthermore, a diet that regularly calls upon these foods may heighten your risk of obesity, which can contribute to elevated estrogen levels, as well [1].

You may be asking, are there any foods that can decrease estrogen levels?

In a word: yes. According to a study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, females who adhered to a Mediterranean diet experienced a 40% reduction in estrogen levels compared to females who didn’t make any changes to their diets [9].

To that end, you may want to consistently reach for foods that are part of the Mediterranean diet, such as [10]:

  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Legumes
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Herbs and spices

The Mediterranean diet also advocates for moderate amounts of red wine, fresh fish (particularly fatty fish like tuna and mackerel), poultry, meat, and dairy.

Add cruciferous vegetables to your grocery list

In addition to adopting all or a few of the pillars of the Mediterranean diet, you may also want to toss cruciferous vegetables into your grocery cart, like [11]:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Turnips
  • Radishes
  • Brussels sprouts

Why? Because cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called diindolylmethane (DIM) that may help modulate estrogen metabolism [12].

Maintain a healthy weight

Adipose—or fat—tissue produces estrogen, and as mentioned, a high body mass index (BMI) due to high adiposity may raise your vulnerability to higher-than-normal estrogen levels [1].

Keeping your weight in check through a healthy, wholesome diet and adequate exercise may help you strike hormonal balance while also boosting your overall health and well-being.

Curb your alcohol intake

Consistently overconsuming one too many mint juleps or artisan beers can also increase estrogen levels and potentially leave you prone to some of the troublesome symptoms and conditions we covered earlier.

The NIH recommends keeping alcohol consumption to no more than a single drink per day (for females). And if you are craving a libation [13]? Reach for that red wine associated with the Mediterranean diet.

Implement smart stress-coping strategies

Finances, relationships, the holidays, deadlines, not knowing if or why your hormones are out of whack—all can cause ongoing stress that may mess with your estrogen levels [1].

Stress is notorious for flooding our bodies with cortisol—another hormone that can sometimes work in our favor by keeping us alert, diminishing inflammation, and regulating our blood pressure [14]. But a surplus of cortisol can also stymie your ability to generate progesterone, which is central to balancing out estrogen [1].

While you can’t always control the amount of stress you encounter, you can endeavor to respond to it with care. Weave these practices into your life and you may feel better [15]:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Massage
  • Listening to music
  • Taking time to unwind

Up your fiber consumption

The state of your liver also impacts how efficiently you can break down estrogen [1]. While we all know that drinking less alcohol helps our livers function optimally, fiber influences the integrity of this essential organ as well. Additionally, high-fiber diets have been connected to lower estrogen levels and a reduced risk of breast cancer [16].

Consider piling your plate with high-fiber foods such as [17]:

  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Carrots
  • Bran flakes
  • Brown rice
  • Beans
  • Chia seeds
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios

Practice sleep hygiene

If you’ve gotten into the habit of skimping on sleep, try to get back into a healthy sleep routine that will grant you seven to nine hours of sound, restorative slumber per night [1].

Going to sleep and waking up at roughly the same time every day, refraining from technology scrolling before bed, and soothing your mind and muscles with a warm, lavender-infused bath can all work wonders towards ensuring you receive the deep sleep your body, brain, and hormones require.

Dodge xenoestrogens

Xenoestrogens are chemical compounds that mimic natural estrogen and encourage its production—and they can be found in everything from your food to your skincare products [18]. You might not be able to avoid xenoestrogens entirely, but you can aim to minimize your exposure to them by choosing [1]:

  • Organic foods
  • Hormone-free meats
  • BPA-free plastics

Is all of this to say that these tips on how to lower estrogen are a guarantee? Definitely not. Measuring your estrogen levels and determining the why behind elevated levels—with your healthcare provider, of course—is the only surefire way to get your hormones back on track.

Gain insight into your hormonal health with Everlywell

Fluctuating hormone levels are part and parcel of being alive. And although estrogen certainly has its merits, high levels of this hormone may result in uncomfortable, disconcerting symptoms that can impact your health and wellness.

If you suspect you have estrogen dominance, your first step towards regaining hormonal stability is finding out where your estrogen levels stand. This can be done through tests via a healthcare provider or through an at-home test. If you’re wondering how to test estrogen levels at home, this is where Everylwell comes in.

As a leading digital health company, we offer a Women’s Health Test—a comprehensive hormonal panel that can be taken from the comfort and convenience of your home. In addition to measuring the main form of estrogen, estradiol, it assesses your levels of other key hormones, including:

  • Progesterone
  • DHEA
  • Luteinizing hormone
  • Cortisol
  • Free testosterone

Rest assured that our at-home testing methods have been clinically validated against traditional methods to meet rigorous standards for test accuracy and reliability. In other words? There’s no reason you shouldn’t embrace the best-in-class science at an affordable rate with Everlywell.

What causes low estrogen levels?

Can you get pregnant with PCOS?

How to test estrogen levels at home

How to test for PCOS: here's what to know


References

  1. High estrogen: Causes, symptoms, dominance & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed December 5, 2022. URL
  2. Cooke PS, Nanjappa MK, Ko C, Prins GS, Hess RA. Estrogens in Male Physiology. Physiol Rev. 2017;97(3):995-1043. doi:10.1152/physrev.00018.2016
  3. Estrogen: Hormone, function, Levels & Imbalances. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed December 5, 2022. URL
  4. NIH study shows caffeine consumption linked to estrogen changes. National Institutes of Health. Accessed December 5, 2022. URL
  5. Reproductive hormones. Endocrine Society. Accessed December 5, 2022. URL
  6. Insulin resistance and diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed December 6, 2022. URL
  7. Sánchez-Zamorano LM, Flores-Luna L, Angeles-Llerenas A, et al. The Western dietary pattern is associated with increased serum concentrations of free estradiol in postmenopausal women: implications for breast cancer prevention. Nutr Res. 2016;36(8):845-854. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2016.04.008
  8. Carruba G, Granata OM, Pala V, et al. A traditional Mediterranean diet decreases endogenous estrogens in healthy postmenopausal women. Nutr Cancer. 2006;56(2):253-259. doi:10.1207/s15327914nc5602_18
  9. Mediterranean diet for heart health. Mayo Clinic. Accessed December 6, 2022. URL
  10. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. National Cancer Institute. Accessed December 6, 2022. URL
  11. Rajoria S, Suriano R, Parmar PS, et al. 3,3'-diindolylmethane modulates estrogen metabolism in patients with thyroid proliferative disease: a pilot study. Thyroid. 2011;21(3):299-304. doi:10.1089/thy.2010.0245
  12. Drinking levels defined. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Accessed December 6, 2022. URL
  13. Cortisol: What it is, function, symptoms & levels. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed December 6, 2022. URL
  14. Stress. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Accessed December 6, 2022. URL
  15. Farvid MS, Eliassen AH, Cho E, Liao X, Chen WY, Willett WC. Dietary Fiber Intake in Young Adults and Breast Cancer Risk. Pediatrics. 2016;137(3):e20151226. doi:10.1542/peds.2015-1226
  16. How much fiber is found in common foods? Mayo Clinic. Accessed December 6, 2022. URL
  17. Watson CS, Hu G, Paulucci-Holthauzen AA. Rapid actions of xenoestrogens disrupt normal estrogenic signaling. Steroids. 2014;81:36-42. doi:10.1016/j.steroids.2013.11.006
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