Thyroid UK
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Can high estrogen cause high cortisol

Hi All,

Does anyone know if high estrogen levels help cause high cortisol levels ? Reason for asking is that recently was prescribed 100 mg Progesterone, 2.5 mg Biest , 5 mg testosterone due all my levels being low. Also on DHEA 25 mg. My estrogen / progesterone was way out with progesterone being low.

Been 2 weeks on the hormones, going through hell !!! took a 24hr Saliva test at the end of week 1, just had the results back ... Cortisol HIGH across all samples !!!

Do i need to come of the Biest cream?



8 Replies

It can take weeks/months to get re-balanced. One thing I learned about progesterone cream is that it CAN raise cortisol. I learned this myself when I used it at night and couldn't sleep. My doctor said it would HELP me sleep but after a week or so of trying, it was certainly making sleep very difficult. I switched to a morning dose and after a month of feeling horrible, things started to change for the better. My estrogen dominance was going away. Something else I learned was that you don't have to have high estrogen to have estrogen dominance. Very low progesterone and normal estrogen can cause estrogen dominance.


Dear Yvette65,

I have struggled so much with estrogen dominance, and found that the only thing that helps is microgenized natural progesterone (Prometrium, Utrogest). I have been taking 200 mg at bed time, and this was an enormous relief. Sleeping much better, and many symptoms disappeared. I am now also taking 100 mg in the mornings. Synthetic progesterone did not help me at all, and the cream was not strong enough for me. I do not believe that natural progesterone elevates cortisol, but I am not a specialist.

Good luck!


Hi Elisabetho, thanks for the reply, ca i ask what your symptoms were like ref the Estrogen dominance, at the moment i am on 100 mg of natural progesterone via lozenge.... the mornings are bearable but i go down hill mid afternoon onwards and the evenings are becoming a living hell , with the anxiety , unable to think rationally, scared that permanently stuck like this and no one can help me, dreading the next day. Only relief i get is from the sleeping pill at night.

Do you know what the life of the progesterone is ? Have seen between 10-12 hours ?

I am wondering if the progesterone is leaving my body in the afternoon therefore causing a lower progesterone/estrogen ratio in the afternoon therefore causing the estrogen dominance in the afternoon and evening.




Dear Yvette65

Besides estrogen dominance I also have MS, hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia. 3 years ago I had such severe menstrual bleeding over a long period of time that my doctor told me I should have been sent to hospital for blood a transfusion. This depleted my iron reserves so much and I had to take iron supplements, which does not go so well with MS. I also had to take synthetic progesterone to stop the bleeding. As you can probably imagine I was very sick and very low, and I feel like I crawled out of a hole of darkness and pain and fatigue, so it is not easy for me to say what symptoms were due to what, I just know that reading Dr. Ray Peat's articles got me on the right track. I tried his Progest-E drops, which are probably similar to what you are taking, but found that they were not strong enough for crawling out of the hole. Then I found Utrogest (or Prometrium) microgenized natural progesterone, which I found to be more effective. I started with 200 mcg at night and slept like a baby, now I also take 100 mcg in the morning. From what I have read you can not over dose on natural progesterone, so don't be worried about taking more lozengers, but if this does not help I would recommend the microgenized natural progesterone.

I have also read that when you take synthetic progesterone (like I did to stop the bleeding or as a contraceptive pill), a side effect is that the body stops producing natural progesterone, which is really bad news for those who have an estrogen imbalance.

You know it is so difficult to navigate in a landscape where people who should be helping (i.e. doctors and specialists) often make the situation worse. It becomes a very long journey of trial and error, and small achievements along the way can seem like great achievements. Just waking up one morning feeling not too bad is such an achievement, and it gets better as long as you keep searching and becoming more and more of a specialist of your own health, and listening to the right people (so many knowledgable and kind hearted people on this site).

Finally health has many components. For example your underlying condition could be inflammation (progesterone is anti inflammatory) and you could be reacting to gluten, dairy or sugar. Any amount of progesterone would not help in this case.

Anyone suffering from a chronic condition could be helped through first eliminating all gluten and refined sugar, and if this does not help, also eliminating dairy (in addition to taking progesterone).

You should also have blood tests done for TSH, T3, T4, iron, follate, ferretin, vit D, B12, magnesium. There is a lot of info about this subject elsewhere on this site.

Sorry about the long post. It is not an easy subject to write about with few words.

Let me know if I can help any more, here on the thread or in a PM.

Sending you best wishes for better days!



Progesterone can be converted to cortisol if your body/brain thinks it is under stress. So, no high oestrogen doesn't cause high cortisol, but high cortisol often causes low progesterone. Stress also means that you make cortisol (and possibly adrenaline) instead of sex hormones (meaning you have low DHEA and testosterone as well). Means your adrenals aren't coping well.

You probably need to take up meditation, deal with any inflammation and heal those adrenals as they seem to be taking advantage of the extra hormone to make more cortisol).

Look up "progesterone steal"


Thanks ... would this be for bio-identical Progesterone ??


That's for real progesterone, so I assume bioidentical as well. Fake progestin apparently behaves more like testosterone, but I don't know enough to tell if that's true.


One reason could be that high TSH (greater than 2.0) can cause high cortisol levels. The problem is most conventional doctors don't see the relationship because they use the reference range of higher than 5.0 or even 10,0 before intervening with treatment. The 2012 medical study "Elevated TSH is associated with elevated cortisol levels in healthy young men and women," came up with incredible findings. Conventional doctors who don't want to keep pace with such documented medical findings are making hypothyroid patients sicker while under their guidance of decisive ignorance fueled by monetary gain at the expense of our health and well-being. Below are excerpts from the study:


All but 1 participant had free T3 levels within the normal reference intervals; free T4 levels for all participants were within the normal reference intervals. Linear regression modeling revealed that TSH levels in the 0.5-10 uIU/L were significantly and positively correlated with cortisol levels. This positive TSH-cortisol relationship was maintained below the accepted 4.5 uIU/L subclinical hypothyroid cutoff. Separate regression analyses conducted by systematically dropping the TSH cutoff by 0.50 uIU/L revealed that the TSH-cortisol relationship was maintained for TSH levels (uIU/L) ≤4.0, ≤3.5, ≤3.0, and ≤2.5 but not ≤2.0. Linear regression modeling did not reveal a relationship between free T3 or free T4 levels and cortisol levels.

(Emphasizing: "This positive TSH-cortisol relationship was maintained below the accepted 4.5 uIU/L subclinical hypothyroid cutoff.")


"Results suggest a positive relationship between TSH and cortisol in apparently healthy young individuals. In as much as this relationship may herald a pathologic disorder, these preliminary results suggest that TSH levels > 2.0 uIU/L may be abnormal. Future research should address this hypothesis further, for instance through an intervention study."

United States National Library of Medicine (NLM)


To me, the bottom line is to get enough thyroid hormone so that adequate T3 is in all the cells of the body and as TSH drops below 2.0 so shall cortisol levels drop, respectively. That may mean upping your vitamins and minerals and adding a boost to depleting stomach acid so you can make the best of your supplements and thyroid hormone replacement.

Cells without T3 wreak havoc throughout the body. Before running in circles, we must get our TSH below 2.0 (preferably around 1,0 and many times it must be totally suppressed). It all depends on how you feel--it is possible some feel okay with higher TSH, but in the long run, is that best for our overall health? Go with quelling every hypothyroid symptom and feeling alive to thrive again. We must settle for nothing less and do whatever it is we must in order to attain it.

Knowledge is truly power!



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