Estrogen is one of the two main sex hormones women have in their bodies – the other is called progesterone. Estrogen is important because it is responsible for female physical features and reproduction. Men have estrogen in their bodies too but in smaller amounts.
Estrogen is important because it promotes the physical changes of female maturity. These changes include breasts growing, menstrual cycles starting and the growth of pubic hair.
The ovaries are the main source of estrogen in the female body, but the adrenal glands at the top of each kidney also produce smaller amounts of estrogen – and so does fat tissue. Estrogen moves throughout the body in the bloodstream.
Your body can make too little or too much estrogen and it is possible to consume too much estrogen through contraceptive pills. Your estrogen levels can also change throughout your menstral cycle, they are highest in the middle of your cycle and lowest during your period. Estrogen levels also drop when your body reaches the menopause. When these estrogen levels drop it can cause a redistribution of fat on the body to the stomach and hips, which explains why some women gain weight around this area after the menopause.
Symptoms of high estrogen levels in women
– Weight gain, mainly on the waist, hips and thighs
– Menstrual problems such as light or heaving bleeding
– Non-cancerous lumps in the breasts
– Loss of sex drive
– Feeling anxious or depressed
Symptoms of low estrogen levels in women
– Menstrual periods that are less frequent or stop
– Hot flushes
– Trouble sleeping
– Dryness and thinning of vagina
– Low sex drive
– Mood swings
– Dry skin
Symptoms of high estrogen levels in men
– Enlarged breasts
Symptoms of low estrogen levels in men
– Excess belly fat
– Low sexual desire