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Women's Health

5 Signs Your Estrogen Is Too High. 5 Signs It's Too Low.

We all know that our health is important. What I’m not sure all of us are on the same page about, though, is just how important it is to stay up on signs that our hormone levels may be a little off.

For instance, were you aware of the fact thatif your hair has gone through drastic changes in thickness or texture, you’re suddenly experiencing breakouts like you did during puberty,you’re feeling sluggish (with no real explanation why), out of nowhere, your muscles and/or joints are in pain or stiff; you’re always hungry and/or thirsty; you’ve been unsuccessful at conceiving a child after a year of consistently trying; your vision is blurry and/or you’re constantly feeling anxious and/or nervous — all of this could be due to some of your hormone levels being not where they are supposed to be?


If your immediate thought was, “Damn. That is a lot of stuff that I’ve just chalked up to stress,” while that could be an underlying cause, more than anything, it’s a heads up to make an appointment to see your doctor.

Okay, but what about your estrogen levels specifically? Even though bothmen and women have estrogen and testosterone flowing through their bodies, most of us learned in school that men produce higher levels of testosterone while we produce greater levels of estrogen. Andsince estrogen plays such a pivotal role in our sexual and reproductive health, it’s super important to be aware of some telling signs of when your estrogen levels may be too high or when they could be too low.

That’s why I’m going to take a moment to share some indications of both, along with some things that you can try from the comfort and convenience of your own home to either make things more bearable or possibly even level things back out — at least until you can get in to see your doctor (which you absolutely should do if none of these things subside after a couple of weeks or so). Let’s hit it.

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1. Signs of High Estrogen Levels: Sore Breasts

I don’t know about y’all, but something that I can set my watch to, about a week before my period begins, is my breasts feeling tight and sore. If you’ve always wondered why that is the case, it’s due to the fact that right before your cycle,your estrogen levels naturally increase, and that leads to some breast discomfort. What you need to watch out for here is if they remain uncomfortable for weeks on end. Based on your age, that could be a sign that you are in a later phase of perimenopause or that your estrogen levels are high, and your doctor needs to get to the root of why that is the case.

What can you do? Ibuprofen can help. So can reducing your caffeine and salt intake and going up a cup size on your bras (since your breasts are probably going to be slightly larger then).

1. Signs of Low Estrogen Levels: Dry Skin

Menopause, boy. If you don’t know a lot about it, it can be a RIDE. For instance, as your body is shifting from a season of being able to get pregnant to one of not (which also means not having a period, so everything has its perks!), your hormones are going to go up and down quite a bit. As far as your estrogen levels go, look out for super dry skin that seems to not be able to be quenched no matter what you do;this means that your estrogen is low.

What can you do? Try using a cleanser that is milder; consuming foods that contain fatty acids (likesalmon, walnuts, flaxseed oil,olive oil, and chia seeds); sealing your skin (which simply means applying something to it while it’s still wet or damp) with a carrier oil like sweet almond, avocado or grapeseed after bathing, andsleeping with a humidifier at night.

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2. Signs of High Estrogen Levels: Weight Gain

This one right here is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, while it’s not so black and white that high levels of estrogen will automatically lead to weight gain, what it can do is increase your appetite and shift how your body stores up fat (especially when it comes to your waist, hips, and thighs). That’s why it’s not uncommon for women who are in the later stages of perimenopause or menopause to say that they feel like their figure has changed — due to the estrogen shifts, it very well may have.

What can you do? The main thing to keep in mind with this one is diet plays a big role in not just managing weight but keeping estrogen levels balanced too. For instance,phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogen foods (like soy, carrots, apples, berries, nuts, and seeds). If your estrogen levels are high, you need to keep the consumption of those down to a minimum. So, what should you eat more of instead?According to many health experts, a high-fiber diet, less processed foods, and a Mediterranean-style diet are all a super wise move.

2. Signs of Low Estrogen Levels: Moodiness

Contrary to the popular assumption of some, no one is really moody for no reason. Although it may sound “typical” to say, the reality is that when we as women are kind of “all over the place” with our feelings,our hormones can play a direct role.As far as low estrogen levels go, it can make you especially moody because it can make it hard for you to get a good night’s rest — and listen, the only thing worse than being hangry (hungry and angry) is being sleep-deprived.

What can you do? I’m not saying that sleep will automatically get you in the right headspace. What I am saying, though, is if you are constantly getting less than six hours of sleep a night, you are definitely not helping matters. So, check out “These Sleep Hacks Will Make Getting A Good Night’s Rest So Much Easier,” apply some of the tips, and see if that helps matters at all (here’s hoping so!). You also might want todo your own research on red clover tea, and black cohosh and increasing your intake of vitamins B, D, and E. All are connected to naturally raising estrogen levels, too.

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3. Signs of High Estrogen Levels: Low Sex Drive

When it comes to sex,estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all play a role in your libido. And yes, when estrogen is slightly higher (like when you’re ovulating), it’s normal to feel hornier. However, if your estrogen is so elevated that it overpowers your other sex hormones, that can have a reverse effect to where your libido ends up being on the lower side.

3. Signs of Low Estrogen Levels: Low Sex Drive

Interestingly enough,if your estrogen levels are low, that can also create a ho-hum attitude towards sex. If you add to that the fact that decreased estrogen can cause vaginal dryness (more on that in a bit) and uncomfortable intercourse, it would make sense that women with low estrogen would rather binge-watch a show than get some.

What can you do? For this one, since both high and low estrogen levels can basically produce the same result on your sex drive, you really need to make a doctor’s appointment to confirm what the deal is. What I will say is there are things that you can do to increase your sex drive altogether — exercise (toreduce stress and increase blood flow) including to your genital region); lower your alcohol intake;get more rest; maintain a healthy weight; communicate effectively with your partner and extend your foreplay sessions (to give you more time to get into the mood).

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4. Signs of High Estrogen Levels: Heavy Period Flow

One thing that estrogen does is help to build up the uterine lining that supports a baby’s development should you happen to conceive. From month to month, if that doesn’t happen, you shed that lining which is what your period is (basically) all about. Okay,but if your estrogen levels are high, that can cause you to have a thicker lining than you should and that can lead to amuch higher period flow; quite possibly evena condition known as menorrhagia.

What can you do? When it comes to menorrhagia, you need to be tested by your doctor for an official diagnosis. For the record, though, if are at the age when perimenopause or menopause is on the horizon, that could also lead to heavy cycles.

Eating foods that are high in iron (since you are losing more blood which means more iron) like red meat, turkey, lentils, wheat, and potatoes,and progesterone (like cruciferous veggies, beans, kale, and spinach); drinking hormone-leveling teas such as raspberry leaf and licorice, andtaking over the counter anti-inflammatory meds during your cycle can help to lessen your flow — at least, a little bit.

4. Signs of Low Estrogen Levels: Irregular Cycles

I guess it kind of makes sense that if high estrogen causes heavy bleeding that low estrogen would either result in irregular/unpredictable cycles or no period at all. That would also explain why it can be hard for perimenopausal women to schedule their period (like they used to) because one month, their estrogen may be high while the next one, may be low (chile).

What can you do? With this one, there could beso many health issue causes (especially if you’re not in your 40s and heading towards menopause) that if you’re not sexually active (because an irregular or skipped period could mean that you are pregnant) and you’re younger, you really should see your physician.

For now, what I will say is if you’ve been under a high amount of stress as of late or your weight has substantially increased or decreased, that might be what has triggered your period to be erratic or MIA.

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5. Signs of High Estrogen Levels: Fatigue

Whilestumbling upon an article that said that high estrogen can cause leg fatigue in young women (interesting), it reminded me to add fatigue,overall, to the list of what increased estrogen can show itself to do in your body. This happens because, since estrogen helps to regulate thingslike serotonin (a natural chemical that sends certain messages to your brain regarding things like your appetite, moods, and sleep patterns) in your system when estrogen is too high, that can cause your serotonin to somewhat malfunction.That can cause mild symptoms like insomnia and fatigue to creep up.

What can you do? If sleeplessness is what you have going on, putting yourself on asleep schedule,keeping your bedroom on the cooler side (like around 68 degrees or so),meditating before bedtime and applying some lavender oil to your feet and bedding are helpful.As far as fatigue goes, exercise, drinking lots of water, andeating foods like avocados, sweet potatoes, dark chocolate, oatmeal, and even popcorn that will give you more energy, while putting you in a better mood, are all pretty effective.

5. Signs of Low Estrogen Levels: Vaginal Dryness

A common sign of being postmenopausal is experiencing vaginal dryness. That’s because, when your body is not producing as much estrogen as it used to, it’s more challenging for your vaginal walls to remain as thick oryour vagina to be as moist (for the record, this is not for ALL women). That said, it should also go on record that anxiety, stress, and smoking can lower your estrogen levels and cause dryness that doesn’t just affect sex. Vaginal dryness can also cause vaginal irritation and a burning sensation when you urinate.

What can you do? As life would have it, I’ve actually written an article on this topic before. Check out “Here's How To Increase Vaginal Lubrication. Naturally.” whenever you get a chance.

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Hormones make up a lot of what makes our body tick, especially estrogen. So please make sure to be intentional and proactive about learning all that you can about your hormones and asking your doctor to get them checked should any concerns arise. Better to bring it up and it be all good than remain quiet and go through some or all of what we just talked about. Take care of yourselves, y’all.

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Featured image by Hiraman/Getty Images

 

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