Ever heard of Estrogen Dominance? It is a medical term defined as a condition where a woman has more estrogen in her body than is either required or healthy. This condition is evident in women who have deficient, normal or excessive estrogen but have little or no progesterone to balance the effect.
This condition can occur at any age but is most likely to occur in the years preceding (perimenopause, the 2-10 year transitional stage before actual menopause) and during menopause.
Many women in their 30s/40s are actually in the perimenopause phase of their life and whilst they produce estrogen their progesterone level declines.
During a normal menstrual cycle, only estrogen is produced for the first 10-12 days. Ovulation tells the body to produce progesterone in between and the two hormones are balanced, resulting in no hormonal imbalance symptoms. Should you fail to ovulate one month then the estrogen already produced for that month is never balanced by progesterone.
Women have fewer ovulations as they get older, which means more estrogen and less progesterone in the body, once ovulation ceases totally, your progesterone levels will fall to almost zero. Although our estrogen levels decline we continue to produce it which means we still have more estrogen than progesterone and it is this that leads to hormone imbalance and estrogen dominance.
What complicates the issue is that many perimenopause and menopause symptoms are treated as an estrogen deficiency problem instead of an estrogen dominance problem.
Some women also experience estrogen dominance due to contraceptive pills and xenoestrogens (chemicals found in household cleaning products, sprays, pesticides, plastics, shampoos, make-up..) These chemicals mimic the body’s own estrogen and as a result the balance between estrogen and progesterone is upset.
Surgical hysterectomies cause the body to be unable to manufacture progesterone, therefore, women who have had a hysterectomy can become estrogen dominant. Many women are given ERT Estrogen Replacement Therapy which actually increases the levels of estrogen in the body.
Estrogen Dominance Can Cause the Following Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms:-
Accelerated aging process
Chronic fatigue and low energy
Cold hands and feet
Diminished sex drive or low libido
Dry eyes, itchy eyes
Depression, anxiety, irritability
Fibrocystic breasts or lumpy breasts
Headaches and migraines
Hair loss, baldness and hair thinning
Hypoglycemia or lack of glucose in the bloodstream
Increase risk of strokes and heart attacks
Irregular menstrual periods
Insomnia or inability to sleep
Memory loss, foggy thinking
Mood swings or sudden change of mood
Osteoporosis or bone loss
PMS, heavy periods or light periods
Polycystic ovary syndrome PCOS
Slow metabolism, weight gain
Unstable blood sugar
Water retention, bloating
Chart Showing How Progesterone and Estrogen Both Balance and Oppose Each Other in the Body
Estrogen Effects – Progesterone Effects
Causes thyroid imbalance – Causes thyroid balance
Creates proliferation of the endometrium – Stabilises the endometrium
Decreases libido – Restores libido
Depletes bone density – Stimulates bone density
Depression, headaches – Natural anti-depressant
Elevated blood pressure – Regulates blood pressure
Fibrocystic breasts – Protects fibrocystic breasts
Fluid retention – Natural diuretic
Increases blood clotting – Normalises blood clotting
Increases risk of breast cancer – Protects the breast
Increases risk of endometrial cancer – Prevents endometrial cancer
Increases risk of gall bladder disease – Needed for embryo survival
Interferes with blood sugar levels – Stablises blood sugar
Reduces cell oxygen – Restores cell oxygen
Reduces zinc and retention of copper – Normalises zinc and copper
Risk of miscarriage – Prevents miscarriage
Weight gain – Utilises fat for energy
Lifestyle Changes to Help Alleviate Estrogen Dominance
Consider using a natural progesterone supplement.
Begin drinking 8-10 glasses of filtered water each day.
Take regular exercise (improves libido, helps with hormone imbalance, decreases your chances of high blood pressure and heart disease, strengthens your immune system and encourages weight loss associated with many estrogen dominance conditions)
Take a good quality multi vitamin with omega-3 fatty acids with ubiquinol (to help protect against environmental pollutants and anti-oxidants and to restore the natural estrogen/progesterone ratio).
Maintain a healthy sleep pattern – important for all hormonal imbalances as hormonal regulation follows you regular daily cycle.
Reduce stress – stress also affects hormonal imbalance. Managing stress can be an important contribution to hormonal balance.
Quit smoking – if you are a smoker, quitting will be the singularly most significant lifestyle change you can make.
Be aware of chemical exposure.
***When using natural supplements, remember it takes at least 3 months for symptoms to respond***
Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, bananas, spinach, celery, Brussels sprouts, kale, beetroot, radish, turnip.
Include other high fibre foods.
Omega 3 Fish – Tuna, mackerel, salmon, herrings, sardines.
Seaweed (high in Iodine).
Citrus fruits contain d-Limonene – helps with estrogen ‘detoxification’.
Use ground linseed and sesame seeds on salads and vegetables.
Use healthy heart oils and margarines.
Add a portion of protein to every meal (helps to increase the amount of a hunger-fighting hormone called Peptide YY – helps to aid weight loss).
Include calcium rich foods – yoghurt, baked beans, almonds. skimmed milk. cottage cheese.
Include wholemeal bread, brown rice, whole-grain cereal, barley, carrots, celery, cucumbers, courgettes, tomatoes.
Foods high in saturated fats (chips, crisps, pastries, ham. sausages, bacon) – all linked to higher levels of estrogen circulating in the blood.
Refined or processed foods (white sugar, flour and rice) – all raise blood sugar levels, stimulating the release of insulin to take up the excess sugar which results in a negative hormone balance impact.
Moderate caffeine intake – just two cups per days can increase estrogen levels.
Alcohol – estrogen is not broken down by an overworked liver.
Moderate intake of natural soy foods – if you are intolerant to them.
Moderate intake of dairy products – if you have a dairy intolerance this can cause a negative affect on hormones.
Some non-organic chicken contains hormones.
Your healthcare professional can diagnose estrogen dominance by listening to your symptoms and/or carrying out a blood test. Blood tests can, however, show normal levels depending on the time the test is taken and the fact that blood only measures the hormone bound to protein and not the available amount of hormone. You could test with a Salivary Hormone Analysis which are available on line or through a Complimentary Health Practitioner.
John R. Lee, M.D. An Elevated Estradiol to Progesterone Ratio. Retrieved from http://www.johnleemd.com/estrogen-dominance.html
Estrogen Dominance – An Elevated Estradiol to Progesterone Ratio. Retrieved from http://www.johnleemd.com/estrogen-dominance.html
Estrogen Dominance. Retrieved from http://www.drnorthrup.com/estrogen-dominance/
Lucille, H., ND. RN. Estrogen Dominance: Too much of a Good Thing Can Certainly Be Bad. Retrieved from http://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?contentid=401
Rubd, B., MD (2012) Estrogen Dominance Doesn’t Always Mean What You Think. Retrieved from http://info.nihadc.com/integrative-health-blog/bid/53256/Estrogen-Dominance-Doesn-t-Mean-What-You-Think