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Estrogen is a sex hormone that is produced in both men and women. It is involved in various important functions in the body that is why it is crucial to maintain normal levels of estrogen to enjoy a healthy life. However, its levels do change with age which is totally normal and natural.

In this article, we have thoroughly explained the normal levels of estrogen in both men and women. We have also highlighted some other points like symptoms of high estrogen, symptoms of low estrogen, and the best treatment for the low estrogen.

What is estrogen?

Estrogen is one of the female sex hormones. It plays several important roles in the body, including the development of secondary sex characteristics such as breast growth, the release of the egg from ovaries, development of hair in the pubic area etc. As testosterone is a male sex hormone but females still produce it, estrogen is also produced in men but in smaller amounts.

It has three types – estrone, estradiol, and estriol. Estrone is produced in the body after menses. Your body can easily convert it into other forms of estrogen. Estradiol is the most common form of estrogen that women produce throughout their reproductive years. Estriol is mainly produced during pregnancy. Its levels increase just before childbirth.

Women produce estrogen throughout their life, but its levels keep fluctuating with the menstrual cycle and other phases of life (pregnancy etc.). It has sexual roles in both men and women.

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What does estrogen do to a woman?

As mentioned earlier, estrogen is a female sex hormone. So, it is mainly used for the:

  • Development of secondary sex characteristics
  • Regulation of menstrual cycle
  • Growth of egg follicles
  • Maintenance of vaginal wall thickness
  • Development of lubrication
  • Regulation of uterine mucus secretions
  • Formation of breast tissues
  • Prevention of milk flow during weaning

In addition to these roles, it also affects bone health, blood vessels, skin, brain, and hair in women.

What does estrogen do to a man?

Estrogen is involved in maintaining various sexual functions in men throughout their lives. Even though testosterone is the key sex hormone in men, it is important to maintain a balance between testosterone and estrogen in men for the normal performance of testosterone. In men, testosterone can also be changed into estrogen when the need arises. The main functions of estrogen in men are:

  • Production of normal sperm count
  • Ability to develop erection
  • Regulation of sex drive
  • Maintenance of testicular function

In men, the levels of testosterone decrease with age but the levels of estrogen increase. It is a natural process and does not cause any adverse effects.

What are normal estrogen levels in women?

Estrogen levels change in women with age. They decline the most after menopause. According to the Mayo Medical Labs, the normal levels of estradiol and estrone in women are:

Life phase Estradiol Estrone
Before puberty Undetectable – 20pg/ml Undetectable – 29 pg/mL
During puberty Undetectable – 350 pg/ml 10 – 200 pg/mL
Before menopause 15 – 350 pg/ml 17 – 200 pg/mL
During and after menopause Less than 10 pg/ml 7 – 40 pg/mL

 

What are normal estrogen levels in men?

Unlike women, estrogen levels in men increase with age. According to the Mayo Medical Labs, the normal levels of estrone and estradiol in men are:

Life phase Estradiol Estrone
Before puberty Undetectable – 13 pg/ml Undetectable – 16 pg/ml
During puberty Undetectable – 40 pg/ml Undetectable – 60 pg/ml
Adult man 10 – 40 pg/ml 10 – 60 pg/ml

What causes fluctuation in estrogen levels?

In women, estrogen levels decrease with age, and in women, they usually increase with age. This is a natural process. However, there are some other factors that can cause a change in estrogen concentration before age.

In women, estrogen levels may change due to pregnancy failure, extreme exercise, eating disorder, menopause, development of a disease like hypogonadism and hypopituitarism, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and removal of ovaries.

In men, fluctuation in the levels of estrogen may occur due to diabetes, obesity, underactive pituitary gland, extreme dieting, extreme exercise, the use of medications that block estrogen release, puberty, and older age.

A little fluctuation in concentration does not produce noticeable symptoms. However, extreme fluctuation can induce negative changes in the physical and mental health of both men and women.

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What happens when estrogen levels are high?

In women

When estrogen levels are higher than the normal levels, then a woman may experience the following symptoms.

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Weight loss
  • Breast swelling
  • Bloating
  • Formation of lumps in the breasts
  • Irregular periods
  • Low sex drive
  • Mood swings
  • Hair loss
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeplessness
  • Headaches

In men

As described earlier, it is important for the sexual health of men that they have a balance between estrogen and testosterone. When these hormones get imbalanced due to the increased production of estrogen, then the following symptoms appear.

What happens when estrogen levels are low?

In women

Women notice the following symptoms when they produce low estrogen.

  • Lack of vaginal lubrication that leads to painful sex
  • Mood swings
  • Absent periods
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty in concentrating

In men

Low estrogen is not very common in men. However, if it happens, men experience the following symptoms.

  • Low sex drive
  • Loss of bone mass
  • Accumulation of fats around the belly

How to diagnose high or low estrogen levels?

The symptoms mentioned above are the indicators of high/low estrogen. However, you cannot diagnose this issue based on only these symptoms. To identify high/low estrogen, your doctor may ask you about your family history of hormonal imbalance. He may then ask you what symptoms you have noticed so far. After that, he will take a blood sample and send it to the lab, where the concentration of estrogen in your blood will be detected and compared with the normal concentration.

After getting blood tests, your doctor will tell you which low estrogen treatment options you have and which is the best option according to your condition.

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How to increase estrogen levels?

Many women experience low estrogen with age. It causes various symptoms and affects life in different ways. If you are diagnosed with low estrogen, then worry not. There are many treatment options available that can help you to regain your estrogen again.

It is best to first try the natural ways to increase estrogen levels. If these ways fail to produce significant results, then you should choose other treatment options. Before choosing any treatment, it is advised to discuss its advantages and disadvantages with your doctor.

How to increase estrogen naturally?

Eat estrogen boosting foods

One of the best ways of increasing estrogen levels naturally is by eating foods that boost its level in the body. Popular examples of estrogen boosting foods are flax seeds, soybeans, sesame seeds, berries, peaches, dried fruits, garlic and wheat bran.

Take supplements

Supplements like vitamin D supplements and vitamin B supplements are also very helpful in boosting estrogen levels. However, if you are taking any other medications, you should first talk to your doctor before taking these supplements. It is because these supplements may react with the ingredients of medications that you are already taking.

Maintain a healthy body weight

Gaining excessive body weight can also result in the reduction of estrogen levels. Therefore, do exercise regularly in moderation and stay active to maintain your body weight.

Avoid exercising in excess

Extreme exercise can cause a reduction in estrogen levels. Our bodies are designed to produce more stress hormones under such situations. And when more stress hormones are produced, a decline in the levels of other hormones like estrogen occurs.

Reduce stress

Prolonged stress and lack of sleep can cause fluctuation in your hormone levels. Therefore, try to reduce your stress level and sleep at least 8 hours at night.

What are the other effective ways of increasing estrogen?

One of the most popular treatments for increasing estrogen levels is hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Hormone replacement therapy is an effective treatment in which you are given FDA-approved bio-identical estrogen in different forms such as pills, injections, patches, etc. This treatment helps in regaining normal estrogen levels. If you are low on progesterone (another female sex hormone), then you will be given a combination of progesterone and estrogen, but if you need only estrogen, then you will be given the only estrogen.

So far, hormone replacement therapy has helped many women to restore their estrogen levels and feel healthy again. It has also helped many menopausal women to reduce the symptoms of menopause. Even though this treatment is very beneficial, it still has some side effects. It is better to first identify the side effects and benefits of this treatment before you choose it to increase your estrogen.

Conclusion

Estrogen is sex or reproductive hormone that is involved in many sex functions in both men and women. Maintaining estrogens normal levels in the body is important for healthy living. A decrease or increase in estrogen can produce different symptoms. If you are low or high in estrogen, then ask your doctor about different treatment options before choosing one. Women deficient in estrogen are often recommended hormone replacement therapy. It is an effective method of increasing estrogen levels to normal.

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References, Sources, Study Material and Scientific Evidence

Testosterone & Estrogen in Women: High vs. Low vs. Normal Levels (webmd.com)

Estrogen’s Effects on the Female Body – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center

Quality of life and menopause: the role of estrogen – PubMed (nih.gov)

Estrogen Hormone Therapy: 4 Types to Choose From (webmd.com)

Estrogen and Progestin (Hormone Replacement Therapy): MedlinePlus Drug Information

Evidence Based Research

This article has been researched and written based on scientific evidence and fact sheets that have then been crossed checked by our team of doctors and subject matter experts.

References, sources and studies used alongside our own in-house research have been cited below, most of which contain external clickable links to reviewed scientific paper that contain date stamped evidence.

Our team of healthcare experts and GMC registered doctors are licensed to UK GMC standards. We strive to provide you with the latest evidence based, researched articles that are unbiased, honest and provide you with accurate insights, statistics and helpful information on the discussed topic to ensure you gain a better understanding of the subject.

We value your feedback on our articles, if you have a well-researched paper you would like to share with us please contact us.

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About the Author: Mike Kocsis

Mike Kocsis has an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration and is an entrepreneur and medical case manager for Balance My Hormones Ltd which offers medical services in the UK and Europe. Mike has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare sector, much of that working with people who have hormone imbalances. Mike has appeared on podcasts and radio and is an expert speaker on the subject of hormone imbalance. He specialises in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and has helped thousands of people suffering from hormone imbalances recover and regain control of their lives. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on the Balance My Hormones YouTube Channel.

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Last update: August 6th, 2021

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