Estrogen dominance is when there is too much estrogen relative to progesterone; and some women can suffer from the symptoms of this imbalance for many years before menopause sometimes as early as their 30’s!
Symptoms become more apparent as higher levels of estrogen overstimulate the brain and body. What’s more ALL of these symptoms are exacerbated by stress! Symptoms include decreased sex drive, irregular or otherwise abnormal menstrual periods, bloating (water retention) and breast swelling and tenderness just to name a few.
Fibrocystic breasts, headaches (especially pre-menstrually), mood swings (irritability and depression) often accompany weight and/or fat gain particularly around the abdomen and hips. Thyroid dysfunction, sluggish metabolism, foggy thinking, memory loss, fatigue. trouble sleeping/insomnia and PMS; the list goes on and on. Estrogen dominance has also been linked to breast cancer and uterine cancer, infertility, ovarian cysts, and increased blood clotting.
So, what causes estrogen dominance? Well, when a woman’s menstrual cycle is normal, estrogen is the dominant hormone for the first two weeks leading up to ovulation. Estrogen is balanced (or "opposed" by progesterone during the last two weeks. If a woman is on any form of contraception that inhibits ovulation, or when they enter peri-menopause and begin to experience inovulatory cycles (that is, cycles where no ovulation occurs), estrogen goes unopposed. This unopposed estrogen is what causes the symptoms.
As mentioned before, being on the Pill long term (thus not allowing ovulation for years on end, sometimes decades) is a recipe for hormonal disaster later down the line. This is one of the biggest issued with fertility that I see in my clinic. Skipping ovulation is, however, only one potential factor in estrogen dominance. In industrialized countries there can be many other causes, including:
So, what can you do to decrease estrogen dominance? Well, first you should be tested. I utilise highly accurate saliva testing for hormones as blood tests are not as accurate as you might think! Once you know your levels there are some things you can do.
Address any deficient nutrients and follow a hormone-balancing diet by eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruits with moderate protein and moderate amounts of healthy fat. Also it’s important to get enough fibre as estrogen is excreted by the bowel and if stool remains in the bowel, estrogen is reabsorbed. Ensuring good amounts of beneficial bacteria in the gut is also of paramount importance.
In clinic I prescribe the right hormonal balancing herbs and nutrients for each individual (because after all we are all very different when it comes to our hormones!) These are all methods that are discussed in a hormone balancing consultation so if you’d like to get to the bottom of YOUR hormonal issues then I’d love to hear from you.
Time and time again I hear people ask "why do I feel so bad when they tell me there's nothing wrong?" My goal is to help solve your health problems, to get to the bottom of things, not just symptom control but to bring about a return to good health.