Not too many women are aware of estrogen dominance, so keep reading to learn all about it.
In this article:
- What Is Estrogen?
- What Is Estrogen Dominance?
- Why Is It Difficult to Detect?
- What Are the Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance?
- How Do You Get Estrogen Dominance?
- How Do You Prevent Estrogen Dominance?
Everything You Need to Know About Estrogen Dominance
What Is Estrogen?
Estrogen is the main female sex hormone. It plays a crucial role in a woman’s health, especially their reproductive health.
Healthy women produce most of their estrogen in their ovaries. Scientists can also create synthetic estrogens in laboratories.
Specifically, estrogen performs the following functions:
- Keeps skin young-looking and maintains its elasticity
- Helps develop secondary sex characteristics in women (ex: vaginal growth, larger breasts, wider hips, and pubic hair in the armpits and vagina)
- Keeps the vagina lubricated
- Helps prevent bacterial infection in the vagina by maintaining the optimal level of acidity
- Prevents bone loss and maintains bone strength
- Maintains optimal body temperature
- Helps regulate the production of cholesterol
- Strengthens the bladder and urethra
- Strengthens the muscles of the fallopian tubes
- Produces luteinizing hormones, which regulates the release of eggs for fertilization
- Prepares the uterus for implantation
It’s important to maintain healthy estrogen levels. Too little or too much estrogen can have an impact on these important functions.
What Is Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance is a condition wherein there’s too much estrogen in relation to progesterone.
What is progesterone? The other female sex hormone which works with estrogen. It plays an important role in regulating menstrual cycles and maintaining pregnancies.
During the menstrual cycle, there’s a sort of see-saw between estrogen and progesterone—during certain phases, when one hormone increases, the other will decrease. So, estrogen dominance occurs when your estrogen levels are significantly higher than your progesterone levels.
Why Is It Difficult to Detect?
Estrogen dominance is sometimes difficult to detect because most people expect the opposite—an estrogen deficiency. This is especially true when women believe they are experiencing symptoms of menopause or perimenopause.
Because of this, women try to treat symptoms of estrogen dominance with hormone replacement therapy, specifically with estrogen replacement. It’s important to remember that estrogen levels don’t normally decrease dramatically until a woman’s final period.
Hormones can fluctuate during the menopause transition phase, but this fluctuation may also lead to estrogen dominance. In fact, women as young as 35 years old can experience this, and they may experience it for up to 10-15 years.
What Are the Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance?
High levels of estrogen can overstimulate processes in the body and the brain which may lead to the following symptoms:
- More intense PMS symptoms
- Increase hair loss
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Sleep issues
- Unexplained weight gain
- Slower metabolism
- Breast tenderness or swelling
- A decrease in sex drive
- Irritability or mood swings
- Cold extremities (hands or feet)
- Thyroid problems
- Fibrocystic lumps in breasts
- Memory issues
Increased levels of estrogen are also linked to autoimmune diseases, fertility problems, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.
How Do You Get Estrogen Dominance?
During perimenopause, women can start experiencing irregular periods. A specific type of irregular period is an anovulatory cycle.
What is an anovulatory cycle? It’s a menstrual cycle where the body skips ovulation. During an anovulatory cycle, women may still experience bleeding, but the ovary does not release an egg.
During an anovulatory cycle, estrogen levels increase but there may not be enough progesterone to counteract it. Low progesterone levels may also lead to bleeding which women may mistake as a regular period.
Apart from anovulatory cycles, the following factors may also contribute to estrogen dominance:
- Being overweight – Having 28% or more than the recommended levels of body fat puts you at risk for estrogen dominance.
- Poor diet – A low fiber and high carbohydrate diet can lead to a nutritional deficiency, which can have an impact on hormone levels.
- Chronic stress – Stress can increase the cortisol, norepinephrine, and insulin levels in the body which, over time, may cause a hormonal imbalance.
- Environmental factors – There may be certain medications you are taking that can increase estrogen levels, such as certain oral contraceptives. On top of that, exposure to certain environmental toxins or chemicals may also have an impact on your hormones.
How Do You Prevent Estrogen Dominance?
Here are a few ways you can help prevent or reduce estrogen dominance:
- Maintain a healthy diet – Eat well, and make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need. Take supplements if you aren’t sure you’re getting everything you need from your regular diet.
- Increase your intake of hormone-balancing food – Certain foods help you maintain healthy levels of hormones, such as fruits, cruciferous vegetables, and food with healthy fats. So make sure to incorporate these in your diet.
- Increase fiber intake – Your body gets rid of estrogen through bowel movements. Otherwise, your body will reabsorb estrogen, so make sure you’re getting the right amount of fiber every day!
- Consider increasing progesterone levels – There are creams and supplements you can take to increase progesterone levels to help counteract estrogen.
- Exercise regularly – Regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, which may reduce the risk of estrogen dominance.
- Enhance liver health – The liver helps filter harmful toxins and excess chemicals in our body. If your liver isn’t functioning well, it may have a more difficult time processing and excreting the excess estrogen in your blood.
- Manage stress – Stress is unavoidable, but chronic stress can have a negative impact on your hormones. If you can’t completely avoid certain stressors, try to identify your triggers so you can develop strategies that will help you cope with them.
Estrogen dominance is just as problematic as estrogen deficiency. In fact, they even share a few symptoms.
It’s important to understand what your body needs so you can get the appropriate treatment. Remember, you don’t have to suffer through the symptoms of estrogen dominance.
There are things you can change in your lifestyle to help ease the symptoms. If you’re looking for more ways to help treat your estrogen dominance, contact the LIV Health team today.
Are you experiencing any of these estrogen dominance symptoms? How do you deal with them? Let us know in the comments section below.