- Signs and Symptoms
- Four Happy Hormones
- Hormones and Mood
- Increase Happy Hormones
What is high or low estrogen levels?
Estrogen is a naturally occurring hormone that your body produces to aid in sexual development and other important body functions. Prior to menopause, women generate estrogen primarily from their ovaries. After that, most of their estrogen comes from fat cells and the adrenal glands found at the top of the kidneys. When estrogen levels get too high or too low, this can negatively affect the body.
Estrogen helps regulate the health of the following areas:
- Urinary tract
- Reproductive system
- Heart and blood vessels
- Hair on the body
- Pelvic muscles
- Mucous membranes
Estrogen plays an essential role in girls when they reach puberty, prompting changes like the growth of pubic hair and the start of menstruation. It also helps control cholesterol in the blood. Three of the most common types of estrogen produced in women include:
Estrone is the main estrogen hormone produced by women after they hit menopause.
Estradiol is the primary estrogen hormone produced by non-pregnant women.
Estriol is an estrogen hormone whose levels increase in pregnant women.
Signs and symptoms of high or low estrogen levels
Men also produce estrogen, though at lower levels than women. They too experience adverse health effects when those levels fluctuate. Estradiol is the estrogen hormone typically found in men.
Sometimes the body produces too much or too little estrogen. Men with lower estrogen levels may end up with additional belly fat and a lowered sex drive. Women with low estrogen levels typically have symptoms like:
- Fewer periods
- Periods that completely stop
- Hot flashes
- Dry skin
- Problems sleeping
- Night sweats
- Dryness in the vagina
- Thinning of the vaginal walls
- Low sex drive
- Mood swings
Signs that a woman may have higher levels of estrogen include:
- Weight gain around the hips, waist, and thighs
- Light or heavy bleeding during menstruation
- Worsening symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- The presence of non-cancerous breast lumps
- Feelings of tiredness
- Lack of desire for sex
Men with higher estrogen levels may experience the following symptoms:
- Gynecomastia, or enlarged breasts
- Problems maintaining an erection
- Issues with fertility
Without treatment, women can experience various complications from low estrogen levels, like:
Estrogen prevents calcium loss, which keeps your bones strong. Without enough estrogen, a woman’s calcium loss often accelerates, leaving her at risk for fracturing the bones in places like the hips, legs, arms, and spine. Women may be more at risk for developing osteoporosis if they have one or more of the following risk factors:
- Consume excessive amounts of alcohol
- Are not active
- Have a thin or petite frame
Estrogen helps protect the heart from disease, potentially by maintaining higher levels of good cholesterol, called high-density lipoprotein (HDL), in your blood. Lower estrogen levels, especially during menopause, can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Causes of estrogen level fluctuations
The levels of estrogen in women decrease as they approach menopause. Surgery to remove a woman’s ovaries can also lead to low estrogen levels. A woman’s estrogen levels may increase due to medications like birth control. Higher levels of the estrogen estradiol have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
Tests for estrogen level changes
Your doctor may recommend taking an estrogen level test to measure the amount of estrogen in your blood or urine. Blood tests are performed by inserting a needle into your vein and taking a sample of blood. With urine tests, doctors ask people to collect urine samples over 24 hours. There are also tests available that measure your estrogen levels using your saliva.
Estrogen tests help to:
- Determine why a girl may be going through early or late puberty
- Figure out why boys have not yet gone through puberty
- Identify the cause of infertility
- Diagnose problems with menstruation
- Evaluate treatments for infertility or menopause
- Look for tumors that are producing estrogen
- Check for specific congenital disabilities
- Monitor high-risk pregnancies
Pregnant women may be asked to take an estrogen test if they:
- Are over the age of 35
- Experience a viral infection
- Are managing diabetes
- Have a family history of children with congenital disabilities
If the results show that you have higher estrogen levels, this could indicate:
- Tumors on your ovaries, testicles, or adrenal glands
- Early puberty for females
- Late puberty for males
Lower estrogen levels can be a sign that you are dealing with:
- Primary ovarian sufficiency, where the ovaries stop functioning before the age of 40
- Turner syndrome, where female sex characteristics fail to develop correctly in women
- Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome, a primary cause of female infertility
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Treatments for high or low estrogen levels
Doctors may recommend that women with low estrogen levels start hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It can alleviate some symptoms of menopause and help prevent the development of osteoporosis in women. Your doctor should describe the risks that come with taking HRT. These include the potential of developing breast cancer, heart disease, blood clots, and other health complications.
Specific changes in diet may help lower your estrogen levels. You should also check with your doctor to determine whether the medications you are taking could be contributing to the problem.
What are the four happy hormones?
Hormones play a complicated and important role in the way your body functions and even functions the way you feel. Some hormones have a big impact on your mood and happiness because of the signals they send to your brain.
Four hormones that affect how happy you feel are dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin.
Here is what you need to know about these happy hormones and how to increase their levels to give your mood a boost.
How can hormones affect your mood?
Hormones affect your mood by sending messages to your brain. If you go through something stressful, certain hormones will send signals to your brain that can affect the way that you think, the way you remember things, and maybe even how you view and bond with other people.
The same is true when you do things that make you feel good. Hormones like dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin are released. They communicate with your brain and make you feel happy.
What is dopamine?
Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter, meaning that it sends messages to your brain and affects the way you feel and how your body functions. It influences not only your mood but how you learn, move, sleep, and process pain.
Dopamine is part of the reward center of your brain, which gives you feelings of happiness and reinforces your behavior. It is released when you do things that make you feel good, like eat chocolate, have sex, or go shopping.
What is serotonin?
Serotonin is another neurotransmitter hormone that can make you feel happy, satisfied, and optimistic. It helps to prevent or improve depression and can affect your memory, sleep habits, sexuality, and how you respond to stress.
What are endorphins?
There are around 20 different types of endorphins that are released when you feel pain or stress. Endorphins are also released in your body when you do things like exercise, laugh, listen to music, fall in love, or have sex. They can help reduce the amount of pain your body feels and increase your feelings of happiness, confidence, and overall wellbeing.
What is oxytocin?
Oxytocin is a type of hormone that’s made in your pituitary gland. It's often called “the love hormone” because it is released when you fall in love, have sex, give birth, and breastfeed.
Oxytocin helps strengthen your relationships and the bonds you feel. Feeling good about your relationships can boost your overall mood and make you feel happier in general.
How to increase happy hormones
If you’ve been feeling down or your mood needs a little pick me up, there are several ways that you can help pump up your body’s production of happy hormones. Here are six simple things you can do to increase your happiness and hormones:
Getting regular exercise not only helps strengthen your body but also helps you to reduce stress and releases endorphins that make you feel great. Aerobic exercises like running, tennis, and hiking can help boost your mood along with your heart rate.
2. Eat well
Eating healthy foods fuels your body and can have an impact on the hormones that affect your happiness. Foods like chicken, dairy, avocados, and bananas can help increase your dopamine levels while eating turkey, legumes, and whole grains might help raise your serotonin.
3. Be kind
Being kind to others can not only make them feel good; it can make you feel good, too. Research has shown that acts of kindness like giving gifts, donating to charity, and helping others in need can release dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. A single act of kindness can boost oxytocin levels for several minutes, so make kindness a happy habit.
4. Listen to music
Music can have a powerful impact on your emotions. Have you ever noticed that when you listen to some types of music or hear your favorite song you seem to feel happier? Singing and listening to music can make you feel good by releasing dopamine and oxytocin.
5. Make a furry friend
Pets have been successfully used as therapy for people with many mental health conditions. They can help manage or improve depression, anxiety, and stress. Research shows that petting an animal increases serotonin levels, which makes you feel good.
6. Get intimate
One powerful way to feel good is to spend some sexy time with your partner. When you have sex, your body releases oxytocin, which makes you feel connected to your partner and gives your mood a boost. Intimacy doesn’t have to be sexual, either. Cuddling, hugs, and massages are other ways to increase your oxytocin levels.
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American Physiological Society: "Estrogens in Male Physiology."
Cedars Sinai: "The Science of Kindness."
Cleveland Clinic: "Why Giving Is Good for Your Health," "Why Having a Pet Can Boost Your Mood and Keep Your Brain Healthy."
Harvard Health Publishing: "Dopamine: The pathway to pleasure," "Endorphins: The brain's natural pain reliever," "Feel-good hormones: How they affect your mind, mood, and body," "Oxytocin: The love hormone," "Serotonin: The natural mood booster."
Hormone Health Network: "What is Estrogen?"
John Hopkins Medicine: "Estrogen's Effects on the Female Body."
Mayo Clinic: "Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress."
MedlinePlus: "Estrogen Levels Test."
National Center for Biotechnology Information: "Happiness & Health: The Biological Factors- Systematic Review Article."
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America: "Dopamine modulates the reward experiences elicited by music."
Susan G. Komen: "Blood Estrogen Levels."
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