Estrone: Definition, High Levels, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

It is a type of estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. It is produced by women who have gone through menopause and are no longer fertile.

Estrone is the type of estrogen after menopause, and it is made from androgens, like testosterone.

It’s a small estrogen complex, but you can make more estrogen with high androgen levels.

The presence of estrone before menopause can indicate the presence of specific fertility that includes health conditions, including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or cancer.

What is estrogen?

The hormones in your body are like a swing. When they are perfectly balanced, your body works as it should. But when they are out of balance, you can start to experience problems.

Estrogen is known as the “female” hormone. Testosterone is known as the “male” hormone. Although each hormone is identified with specific sex, both are found in women and men. On average, women have higher levels of estrogen and men have more testosterone.

In women, estrogen helps initiate sexual development. Along with another female sex hormone known as progesterone, it regulates a woman’s menstrual cycle and affects her entire reproductive system.


In premenopausal women, estrogen and progesterone levels vary from one stage of the menstrual cycle.

There are three types of estrogens: estradiol, estriol, and estrone. Estradiol is the primary female sex hormone. Estriol and estrone are minor female sex hormones. Estriol is almost undetectable in women who are not pregnant.

High estrogen levels and causes

High estrogen levels can develop naturally, but too much estrogen can also be produced when taking certain medications. For example, estrogen replacement therapy, a popular treatment for menopausal symptoms, can cause estrogens to reach problematic levels.

Your body can also develop low levels of testosterone or low levels of progesterone, which can upset your hormonal balance. It is known as estrogen dominance if you have estrogen levels that are abnormally high relative to progesterone levels.

Symptoms in women

Symptoms of high estrogen levels in women

When your body’s estrogen and testosterone levels are out of balance, you can start to develop specific symptoms. In women, potential symptoms include:

  • Swelling.
  • Tenderness in your breasts.
  • Fibrocystic lumps in your breasts.
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Irregular menstrual periods.
  • Increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Humor changes.
  • Headaches.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Weight gain.
  • Hair loss.
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Memory problems.

Treatment for high estrogen levels

Your doctor may prescribe medication, recommend surgery, or encourage you to adjust your diet to control high estrogen dominance.


Suppose you develop high estrogen levels while on hormone therapy; your doctor may change your hormone therapy plan. This could help your body achieve a healthier hormonal balance.

If you have a type of cancer sensitive to estrogen, high estrogen levels can worsen cancer. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to stop cancer cells from binding to estrogen. For example, they may prescribe tamoxifen.

Alternatively, they may prescribe an aromatase inhibitor. This type of medicine prevents the aromatase enzyme from converting androgens to estrogen.

This class of medicine includes:

  • Anastrozole (Arimidex).
  • Exemestane (Aromasin).
  • Letrozole (Femara).

In other cases, you may be prescribed a medicine that stops your ovaries from making estrogen. For example, they may define:

  • Goserelin (Zoladex).
  • Leuprolide (Lupron).

If you have a type of cancer sensitive to estrogen, your doctor might also recommend an oophorectomy.

This is a type of surgery used to remove the ovaries. Since the ovaries produce most estrogen in women’s bodies, removing them reduces estrogen levels. This causes what is known as surgical menopause.

Your doctor may also recommend an oophorectomy if you are very high risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer. You may be at very high risk if one or more of the following are true:

  • You have a strong family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
  • Your test is positive for a specific mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
  • The test is positive for a particular mutation in other genes associated with cancer risk.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), removing both ovaries reduces the risk of breast cancer in very high-risk patients by approximately 50 percent.

Your doctor may also use radiation therapy to make your ovaries inactive.


To help lower your estrogen levels, your doctor may recommend changing your eating habits.

For example, they may encourage you to eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet. They can also encourage you to lose excess weight.