What is Estrogen Dominance? And How to Fix It

Estrogen Dominance

Content updated from previous publish date.

Estrogen is primarily known as one of the main hormones involved in a woman’s menstrual cycle. But this neurohormone also has a strong influence on moods, emotions, and cognitive function. When estrogen is in balance with other hormones, such as progesterone, women tend to feel happy, energetic, and motivated. When there is too much estrogen in relation to progesterone, it’s a different story. This is called estrogen dominance, a condition that can make you feel anxious, depressed, irritable, and forgetful.

When a woman has too much estrogen in relation to progesterone, it’s called estrogen dominance, which can make you feel anxious, irritable, and forgetful. Click To Tweet


During a woman’s typical 28-day menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone rise and fall. When hormones are balanced, estrogen gently rises and falls twice during a cycle, while progesterone rises and falls once. In simple terms, estrogen levels are higher during the first 2 weeks of a woman’s cycle. Progesterone levels are typically higher during the second half of her cycle.

The female body produces three kinds of estrogen: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3).

  • Estrone (E1) is the main estrogen women’s bodies make after menopause.
  • Estradiol (E2) is the primary form of estrogen that is produced during a woman’s reproductive years. It is the strongest estrogen and supports healthy moods and cognitive function.
  • Estriol (E3) is the main form of the hormone that is produced during pregnancy.


Estrogen affects the brain and your mental well-being in many ways. For example, research shows that estrogen influences the production of neurotransmitters, such as:

  • Serotonin: This brain chemical is involved with mood, sleep, and flexibility. It also helps you to be open and adaptable to change.
  • Dopamine: This unique transmitter helps with motivation, focus, and staying on task while supporting the brain’s ability to remember things.
  • GABA: This is the brain’s chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA’s primary role is to reduce brain cell excitability and slow down the firing of neurons. Too much stimulation can cause anxiety, insomnia, and seizures, while too little nerve cell firing can cause lethargy, confusion, and sedation.
  • Glutamate: This brain chemical is involved in memory and learning.

Other studies have found that estrogen is involved in modulating activity in the hippocampus. This brain region is critical for healthy moods and memory.


When there are higher levels of estrogen in relation to progesterone, it is called estrogen dominance. This changes the normal monthly hormonal ups and downs into dramatic highs and lows. This interferes with several brain processes and can make you feel sad, anxious, or irritable.

Estrogen dominance is also associated with a drop in It can progesterone and GABA, which can lead to trouble sleeping. Lack of quality sleep comes with a host of unwelcome consequences.


Estrogen dominance can lead to a laundry list of symptoms. This hormonal imbalance is associated with:

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Mood swings and depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Sluggish metabolism
  • Low libido
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Brain fog
  • Memory loss
  • Weight gain
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Bloating
  • Vaginal or oral year (thrush)
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Carbohydrate cravings

These symptoms of hormonal imbalance can be mild, moderate, or severe.


There are several reasons why estrogen levels may become elevated, including:

  • Your body produces too much estrogen
  • Your body doesn’t break down estrogen effectively
  • Your body doesn’t adequately flush out excess estrogen

Many things can contribute to the buildup of excess estrogen, such as:

  • Stress: Chronic stress increases cortisol levels, which reduces progesterone levels. This leads to an imbalance with too much estrogen compared to progesterone.
  • Alcohol intake: When you drink alcohol, your liver has to work hard to process them. This decreases your liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen.
  • Exposure to xenoestrogens: Environmental toxins that mimic estrogen can increase the likelihood of estrogen dominance. These toxins include BPAs and phthalates, which are present in plastics and many personal care products.
  • Obesity: Fat cells secrete estrogen. The more fat cells you have, the more estrogen is released. Research shows that being obese is associated with an increased risk for estrogen dominance.
  • Gut dysbiosis: Good bacteria in the gut help flush out excess estrogen. When there is an imbalance in gut bacteria, however, it can lead to an accumulation of excess estrogen.
  • Poor liver function: Your liver is responsible for breaking down (metabolizing) estrogen and flushing it from your body. If your liver isn’t functioning optimally, estrogen levels can increase. A lack of dietary fiber or low magnesium levels may be a factor in low liver function.


If you’re struggling with symptoms of estrogen dominance, you may want to have your healthcare provider test your estrogen levels. Doctors can test all 3 types of estrogen to see if your levels are off.

Based on these results and your symptoms, your doctor can recommend a treatment plan. When treating estrogen dominance, a good place to start is with lifestyle modifications.


Many lifestyle changes can help reduce estrogen levels and improve your quality of life. Here are 6 natural strategies to treat estrogen dominance.

Lower stress:

Getting a handle on stress can be very helpful in reducing cortisol and estrogen levels. Start a stress-reduction practice that includes strategies like meditation and havening.

Limit or eliminate alcohol:

Cutting back on wine, beer, and cocktails can improve your liver’s ability to break down estrogen.

Reduce exposure to xenoestrogens:

When possible, buy organic foods. Skip plastic containers and use glass instead. Go through your cupboards and throw away household cleaners and personal care products that contain harmful chemicals.

Reduce body fat (if needed):

Lowering your body fat can reduce the amount of estrogen secreted by fat cells. Check with your healthcare provider to find a healthy plan to lose fat while still getting enough of the important nutrients your body needs.

Support gut health:

Improve your gut health by taking probiotics.

Eat a high-fiber diet:

Dietary fiber can improve the function of your liver, so it can metabolize estrogen more effectively.

By making these lifestyle changes, you may be able to reduce excess estrogen levels. When you achieve hormonal balance, it can improve your moods, memory, and energy.

If estrogen dominance symptoms—such as depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, or brain fog continue—it’s a good idea to seek help from an integrative medicine (functional medicine) professional. Look for someone who understands how neurohormones affect brain function and who takes a comprehensive brain-body approach to treatment. With a professional who will get to the root causes of your symptoms, you are more likely to find the most effective treatments.

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Dear Dr. Amen and Employees:
    I have followed you for years, Dr. Amen, and bought many books and CDs, etc., mostly from PBS; however, I think you need to become
    current with CBD and endocannabinoids, as well as marijuana usage for pain and other health issues. I agree that it is not something that
    teenagers or young people should use frequently, but I feel that its many attributes and positive uses ought to be acknowledged by you,
    or, you may seem out-dated, on this position.
    Thank you.
    Pamela Murray

    Comment by Pamela — June 11, 2018 @ 10:03 AM

  2. I suffer with PMDD and I’m wondering if Dr. Amen has experience with this condition. I am desperate for help.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Suzanne sahagun — November 11, 2019 @ 9:08 PM

  3. Can you do an article on this and how badly it affects your mood and causes panic attacks in peri & menopause PLEASE?! We feel like we're dying here! 😞

    Comment by Louise — July 23, 2023 @ 6:26 PM

  4. Same question as Suzanne Sahagun above, my partner suffers greatly from PMDD, and living a life of misery, I'm interested in Dr Amen Experience, and are also desperate for help, in worry ill lose my sole mate. Can a life style change really help with this condition?

    Comment by Guy Smith — August 14, 2023 @ 3:09 AM

  5. Thank you for sharing this information. I live with Ehlers-danlos syndrome ( was diagnosed two years ago at 49) I've questioned many medical professionals about the relationship of estrogen dominance to exacerbated EDS symptoms. There's very little medical literature, yet on the subject. I also live with the usual comorbidities that seem to accompany EDS: MCAS, dysautonomia, GI dysmotility and an autoimmune component. I finally decided to cease my menses in hopes of quieting the incessant flares from estrogen dominance ( I live with severe PMS also 24/7 365 days a year) Menopause has not even winked at me yet. My hope is ceasing my menses ( via IUD which I've had before successfully) will help lessen symptoms so I can hopefully cultivate a better quality of life again. Do you have experience with any estrogen dominance patients with EDS? Thoughts? Perspectives? Thank you

    Comment by Elizabeth Miller — August 14, 2023 @ 4:11 AM

  6. Dr.Amen, What does your brain look like?

    Comment by Teresa Prevatt — August 14, 2023 @ 4:35 AM

  7. Why don’t you make your tests and supplements more affordable for the average person, not a celebrity brain scan?!?

    Comment by Teresa Prevatt — August 14, 2023 @ 4:38 AM

  8. I was diagnosed with estrogen-positive breast cancer 4 years ago. I believe the cancer was caused by a lifetime of extreme chronic stress. Could this stress have affected my estrogen levels? Progesterone levels? I'm trying to find a relationship between them.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Suzanne B — August 14, 2023 @ 5:00 AM

  9. I was wondering if you could post an article on how the nervous system works and what happens when the body stays in flight and fight mode for too long. I have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and have had many trips to the emergency department from episodes of dissociation and have passed out a few times as a result of a slightly stressful situation. The problem is that I did not perceive it as stressful but my body seemed to take it as a very stressful situation so it would shut down and so I would pass out and not be reactive to pain or any other stimulation. My blood pressure became lower than 60 sistolic and I would wake up unable to speak for a few hours. I am constantly fighting and fighting against fatigue where I can no longer function much at all during the day. If I overdo it a little bit, although it is almost no activity compared to a normal person, I shut down and either crash from fatigue for weeks, dissociate or pass out. The weird thing is that I am conscious and can feel and hear everything when I am passed out but just can’t wake up even through painful medical examinations and am mute for hours when I wake up.

    Nobody seems to be able to give me an answer and I can’t seem to find a way out of this cageless jail of a life …. Please help !

    Comment by Rachel — August 14, 2023 @ 7:29 AM

  10. I've had trouble with estrogen dominance pretty much since I started my cycle when I was 12. I was neglected in childhood and wonder about cellular changes due to this. Nothing I do or change seems to help.

    Comment by Carrie — August 14, 2023 @ 7:40 AM

  11. I suffer from really bad unusual migraines that usually occur during my cycle however come around when I’m stressed and worried. The pain is not typical it’s more like behind the eye sockets behind the head and neck and cranium. To the point were movement and talking make me sick. What do you suggest for this issue and during cycle in order not to get these so often. Also for the depressive states the pms that comes maybe Prozac for only the week before period starts??? Maybe that will help with headaches too. Please advise thank you. I’m advance I really need help.

    Comment by Natasha Imani — August 14, 2023 @ 8:30 AM

  12. I for one am happy that Dr Amen is addressing the dangers of unrestrained recreational use of marijuana. I am Not talking about medicinal marijuana in controlled doses. I lived in a state where recreational marijuana is legal. Overuse can cause paranoia, even psychosis, I've seen it in my own family. Dr Amen sees the effects on brain scans.

    Comment by Jane B — August 14, 2023 @ 11:10 AM

  13. As a Credentialed Master Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor in NYS, I would be cautious in promoting Marijuana ubiquitously for pain relief. Persons with Substance Use Disorders need to be extremely cautious in using any mood altering substances, as any drug of abuse will trigger the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that cause cravings. A person may try a substance that was not originally their preference, but the same neurotransmitters are stimulated and often the person will then revert back to their "drug of choice" causing major issues for them as a potential relapse may occur. Marijuana is a mood altering substance and people should be advised to use it cautiously…..there are many other non-drug ways to address pain…

    Comment by Kate — August 14, 2023 @ 2:22 PM

  14. Would you have the data to show how long term use of birth control pills could affect one’s chemical imbalances??
    I’m wondering if it could cause the estrogen imbalance?
    Thank you.

    Comment by Stacy Jones — August 14, 2023 @ 3:41 PM

  15. How does birth control play into high levels of estrogen in the above article

    Comment by Susan A — August 15, 2023 @ 7:14 PM

  16. Throw endometriosis in there and you’ve got a major hormonal crisis wreaking havoc on physical and mental health!!

    Comment by Mic — August 16, 2023 @ 2:48 PM

  17. I have depression and severe axiety. Nothing helps

    Comment by Sharon Baxla — August 17, 2023 @ 1:17 PM

  18. My daughter is 48 years old and has estrogen dominance. Cannot find a doctor who will measure her estrogen levels. From Santa Barbara California. Thank you.

    Comment by Elizabeth — August 20, 2023 @ 12:25 AM

  19. I want examining and I conceive this website got some genuinely utilitarian stuff on it! .

    Comment by zoritoler imol — November 14, 2023 @ 6:01 AM

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