Estrogen is an important hormone in the body: it helps maintain female traits as well as reproductive organs and functions. The National Cancer Institute explains that estrogen is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands and other organs. Estrogen can also be taken into the body from outside sources, such as meat that has been injected with hormones and pesticides, which are called "xenoestrogens," but our body reacts to them as natural estrogen.
Excess estrogen in the body can occur when the body takes in or produces too much estrogen. It also can occur when the levels of other sex hormones, such as progesterone, drop, making estrogen the predominant hormone. Excess estrogen presents many physical and psychological symptoms.
One of the most obvious symptoms of excess estrogen is weight gain, and the weight tends to collect as additional fat in the area of the waist, hips, and thighs. A report from the Taylor Medical and Aesthetic Group states that excess estrogen produces more fat, and more fat produces more estrogen, as estrogen is also produced in the fat cells. This creates a continuing cycle of excess estrogen and weight gain.
Many symptoms of excess estrogen involve the menstrual cycle. According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of several books on women's health, some of these symptoms are irregular menstrual periods, which can be excess bleeding or light bleeding, and an increase in the strength of pre-menstrual symptoms. For example, bloating and breast tenderness experienced before the onset of the menstrual cycle can become more severe.
Excess estrogen makes itself known with mental and emotional symptoms as well. Dr. John Lee, who is regarded as an authority in the field of estrogen and hormones and the author who coined the phrase "estrogen dominance," lists these psychological symptoms as a decreased interest in sex, depression, agitation, mood swings and anxiety, memory loss, irritability and fatigue.
Many of these symptoms show up with other disorders as well. If you suspect you may have a problem with excess estrogen, speak to your physician about specialized testing.