Your hormones send little messages throughout the body, constantly working to improve the way it functions. Depending on the hormone(s) that are out of balance, you can expect different symptoms.
We’ll talk specifically about estrogen dominance today and the unwanted symptoms you may experience when this hormone is either high in general or high in relation to its counterpart progesterone. This can happen in both women and men.
Estrogen dominance can lead to:
- Heavy/irregular cycles
- Difficulty losing weight
- Decreased sex drive
- Anxiety & depression
- Mood swings
After coming off birth control and starting bioidentical hormone therapy, I was plagued with symptoms of estrogen dominance. I didn’t realize that I had a stagnant liver because I was told my labs were normal. This excess estrogen that built up as a result played a huge role in my symptoms.
My doctor’s answer was to give me more progesterone in an attempt to balance these hormones more. It was a dangerous combination for me that led to many sleepless nights, irritability, weight gain, and a lot of other symptoms I’ll discuss here.
Introducing the role of estrogen and progesterone
Estrogen is the hormone that takes charge during the first half of your menstrual cycle and builds up the uterine lining to prepare the uterus in the event that you want to get pregnant. It prepares for a baby.
If you’ve ever looked at hormone testing, you’ve probably seen that you have 3 types of estrogens that show up – Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2), Estriol (E3).
These are important because they give us our girlish figure, balance our moods, strengthen our bones, improve our memory, and keep our skin looking great.
Sounds like estrogen is amazing, right?
Well it is… when it’s in balance. And we want to keep it that way in respect to progesterone.
Progesterone peaks toward the second half of the cycle and maintains the uterine lining. If you’re trying to get pregnant or did get pregnant while progesterone was at its peak, you need good progesterone levels to support a healthy pregnancy.
Ovulation helps you produce progesterone, and its role is to balance out estrogen. Progesterone protects against certain cancers, helps with deep sleep, keeps you calm and collected, and makes you feel grounded.
What is estrogen dominance?
Estrogen dominance is when estrogen levels are significantly higher than progesterone levels. In one case, you may have estrogen levels that are normal with low progesterone. Or you may have estrogen levels that are high with normal progesterone.
Your symptoms will vary depending on how estrogen dominance presents for you. If your estrogen levels are normal and you have low progesterone, you could enter into early perimenopause or have signs of PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome), or you may have your cycle monthly but may not be ovulating.
If you estrogen levels are high and your progesterone levels are normal, you may have excess body fat, digestive issues, impaired liver detoxification. A lot of this could come from toxins in your environment in an external form of estrogen, often referred to as Xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are found in toxic makeup, skincare, body products, plastics, cleaning chemicals, and other environmental toxins.
Either way, estrogen dominance will commonly have symptoms like those mentioned in the intro as well as:
- Breast tenderness
- Frequent headaches or migraines
- Memory and cognitive dysfunction
- Sugar cravings
Estrogen dominance is the driver behind such disease processes like endometriosis, PCOS, Fibroids, and even breast and uterine cancer. It puts men at risk for prostate cancer, mood disorders, erectile dysfunction, and infertility.
Estrogen Dominance Test
You probably want to know if you can reverse estrogen dominance. If you have symptoms of estrogen dominance, hormone testing can give you insight into how to best address it. The DUTCH test is a urine based hormone test that can help you determine how well you’re metabolizing estrogen. Depending on how well your body is utilizing estrogen and getting rid of the excess, you’ll have the information you need to address the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Estrogen has the ability to take different pathways when the body is detoxing the excess. Depending on the pathway your body is favoring, you’ll be able to choose supplements that will create healthy balance instead of guessing. If you choose not to test, you could do more damage by taking supplements that aren’t needed in your particular situation.
For example, many people will tell you to take DIM if you are in estrogen dominance. But this could cause more harm to your body if your estrogen is already low or it may not be needed if certain pathways are working efficiently. Yes, you can have low estrogen and be in estrogen dominance.
If you’re curious about your specific needs and would like to know what your hormone pathways look like, you can purchase a test and consult with me to review. I’ll share the best next steps for getting long-term results with your hormone balance.
How to get rid of estrogen dominance symptoms
Outside of testing to help determine the underlying cause, consider a few lifestyle modifications if you believe you have estrogen dominance.
1. Eliminate alcohol and processed foods to help with the detoxification process. If your liver is taxed from unnecessary medications or other substances, it could impair estrogen detox.
2. Eat foods that help with estrogen detox. Lignans in flaxseed help bind to estrogens and remove them from the body. Wild-caught salmon helps increase the formation of good healthy estrogen pathways. Eggs support the liver to help detoxify estrogen metabolites.
3. Eat foods that help support the digestive tract. Prebiotic-rich foods like garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, and artichokes become food for the good healthy bacteria in your gut. They also improve digestion and estrogen metabolism.
4. Make sure your meats are ethically sourced. Conventionally raised meats are a known source of high estrogen levels and have a negative impact on our cortisol levels and can lead to imbalance in our bodies.
5. Poop daily to help get rid of estrogen metabolites. When you’re constipated, estrogens will recirculate in the body and contribute to high levels.
Hormone balance can be very disruptive to your life. These chemical messengers are responsible for running the show in the body, and when they are out of balance, we can feel like we’re falling apart.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms and are ready to take your health to the next level and work to heal your digestive system and balance hormones naturally, that’s exactly what will happen when we work together.
What makes this process different is that I will offer you an assessment that dives deep into your history and takes a comprehensive look at advanced labs as needed to look for risk factors as well as help you uncover the cause of your imbalances so we can address them at the root. If that’s what you’re looking for, complete this short application and schedule a time to meet with me for a consultation. We can determine if it’s a good fit for us to partner together to resolve some of your hormone imbalances naturally.