What is estrogen dominance? Why does it happen and how is it corrected? Premenopausal and peri-menopausal women can develop this imbalance in several different ways.
- Having anovulatory cycles. This is when we don’t ovulate during a cycle. After we ovulate, a mini-organ called the Corpus luteum, forms at the site of ovulation and that mini-organ secretes progesterone. So if you do not ovulate, you do NOT make progesterone that month. This commonly happens in peri-menopausal women and in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
- Excess Body Fat. Our fat cells produce estrogen, so the more fat we have, the more estrogen we produce.
- Chronic stress. This causes increased cortisol secretion from the adrenal gland which leads to hormone imbalances.
- A diet low in fiber, high in refined carbohydrates and low in high quality, nutritious foods like fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and good fats from foods like nuts and avocado.
- Poor immune function. Supporting your immune system is very important for this and for many other reasons. I have done a podcast on recommended immune support supplements to take, especially during the COVID 19 pandemic. The list of those supplements can be found in another blog on this web page titled “Supporting the Immune System During COVID 19”.
- Environmental agents like mineral oils or petroleum products that can act like estrogen in our body. These are called Xeno-estrogens.
- Estrogen/progestin containing birth control options cause estrogen dominance.
Even when you’re menopausal and no longer making any estrogen from the ovaries, or your ovaries have been removed, you can become estrogen dominant because women can still get estrogen from fat cells, from non-organic meat and dairy products and from using mineral oil products. Also, since we are no longer ovulating in menopause we make NO progesterone.
Additionally, many, many women are on HRT the contains ONLY estrogen. One of the actions of progesterone is thinning the lining of the uterus. If a woman has had a hysterectomy, she is given estrogen only HRT because there is no longer a concern about the possibility of thickening the uterine lining. The problem with this approach is that is causes estrogen dominance.
Below are some of the symptoms caused by Estrogen Dominance:
- swelling and tenderness in your breasts
- fibrocystic lumps in your breasts
- decreased sex drive
- irregular menstrual periods
- increased symptoms of PMS
- mood swings
- increase in headaches
- anxiety and panic attacks
- weight gain around hips and waist
- hair loss
- cold hands or feet
- trouble sleeping
- sleepiness or fatigue
- memory problem or foggy thinking
- trouble sleeping
- sluggish metabolism
High Estrogen Symptoms in Men
- Infertility. Estrogen is partly responsible for creating healthy sperm. When estrogen levels are high, sperm levels may fall and lead to fertility issues.
- Gynecomastia.Estrogen may stimulate breast tissue growth. Men with too much estrogen may develop gynecomastia, a condition which leads to larger breasts.
- Erectile Dysfunction (ED). Men with high levels of estrogen may have difficulty getting or maintaining an erection.
Ways to reverse or prevent estrogen dominance:
- Increasing exercise promotes hormone balance and reduces body fat.
- Eat nutritious foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and good fats. Also increase fiber in your diet. Adequate fiber in your diet allows for improved elimination of stool. Estrogen is excreted by the bowel. If stool remains in the bowel, estrogen will be reabsorbed into the body.
- Reduce stress. I know this is not an easy task, but as we approach the New Year, make a please invest time and energy in yourself and your wellness.
- Avoid use of mineral oils and petroleum products in your hair care and skin care. Also, Xeno-estrogen can be leached into your food if you heat it in plastic containers in the microwave. This can also happen when light filters through plastic water bottles, so use a stainless steel water bottle instead.
- Supplements. Consider adding over the counter supplements like DIM which aids in hormone balance by supporting the body’s metabolism of excess estrogen.
- Detoxify the liver. The liver is our body’s filter and filters out excess estrogen. So keeping this organ healthy by limiting alcohol and avoiding high fat foods. Milk thistle caps can aid supporting a healthy liver.
- BiHRT. Starting a balanced bio-identical hormone regimen that includes progesterone.
If you are looking for someone in your area who prescribes bio-identical hormones, contacting your local compounding pharmacies can be helpful. They know who is prescribing compounded hormones and doing a good job of it!
Also, you can explore this website with lists of providers who practice functional medicine (which is what you are looking for):