Written on March 2, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. 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 is a sex hormone made by the body that has a central role in reproductive health not only for women but also for men [1-3]. However, estrogen is known more as a female hormone. There are three key forms of estrogen [1,4]:
Estrogen helps to develop and maintain female sex characteristics [1,3,4]. Additionally, the hormone affects other biological processes, including the skeletal and immune systems . Estrogen functions by binding to two receptors, estrogen receptor alpha and estrogen receptor beta, in various cells throughout the body. The estrogen attaching to either one of these receptors will lead to multiple effects that can be good or bad for you . Having too much or too little estrogen in your body can produce chronic or acute diseases.
During the female reproductive years, estrogen is primarily produced in the ovaries . Estrogen is also released by your adrenal glands (located on top of your kidneys) and fat tissues. Throughout pregnancy, the placenta, which is the organ that surrounds the fetus and provides it with nutrients from the mother, secretes estrogen.
Normal estrogen levels for women fluctuate up and down throughout life and are dependent on what stage of life you are currently in . Normal estrogen levels rise during puberty and decline as you approach menopause. Levels also typically increase during ovulation and decrease when you have your period. Consistently or extremely high or low levels of estrogen may signify other conditions.
Estrogen levels are usually measured with a simple blood test and sent to a lab for analysis . The estrogen lab test can measure your estrone, estradiol, or estriol levels. Other samples can also be used to measure your estrogen levels, such as urine or saliva . The test results may vary based on a few parameters, including your age, medical history, and the differences in the lab and type of test used to measure the levels.
High estrogen levels can negatively impact reproductive health, have unpleasant symptoms, and escalate the risk of certain diseases . Elevated estrogen levels in women have been linked to conditions such as polyps, fibroids, PCOS, endometriosis pain, and ovarian tumors . Other conditions associated with high estrogen levels include dementia, heart disease, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, insulin resistance, and uterine cancer [4,6]. Excessive estrogen level is sometimes referred to as “estrogen dominance.” This is where not enough progesterone is produced to balance the amount of estrogen in the body. Stable estrogen and progesterone levels usually work together to regulate female sexual reproductive health.
Signs and symptoms of high estrogen levels in women may include [1,4,6,7]:
There are several causes of elevated estrogen levels in women. Your body may be making too much estrogen, you may be getting too much estrogen from other sources, like your medicine, or your body may be having issues breaking down and removing the estrogen from your body [1,4,6].
Some factors that contribute to high estrogen levels in women may include [4,6]:
It’s important you know that high estrogen levels can have multiple unpleasant symptoms and lead to various health issues. If you experience some signs and symptoms of elevated estrogen, you should contact your healthcare provider. Your provider can order appropriate testing (such as a Women's Hormone Test) and speak to you more about your individual situation.
At Everlywell, you can schedule a meeting with a certified healthcare provider through our Women’s Health Virtual Care Visit service to discuss your health concerns. The provider will be able to evaluate your symptoms and offer guidance on the next steps, which may include prescriptions, testing, or lifestyle changes.
What are normal estradiol levels in women?
How to lower estrogen: what you need to know
What causes high estradiol levels in males?
Does estrogen make you gain weight?