Hey everyone! So in my last post, I got a few messages asking me how to know you have too much Estrogen or Estrogen Dominance. In this post, I hope to answer that with some signs you have Estrogen Dominance.
While estrogen levels will decrease during menopause, the truth is, estrogen levels do not fall appreciably until after a woman’s last period. In fact, far more women suffer from the effects of “estrogen dominance” during the transition — that is, they have too much estrogen relative to progesterone. And some women can suffer from the symptoms of estrogen dominance for 10 to 15 years, beginning as early as age 35.
What Causes Estrogen Dominance
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 by progesterone during the last two weeks.
As a woman enters perimenopause and begins to experience anovulatory cycles (that is, cycles where no ovulation occurs), estrogen can often go unopposed, causing symptoms. Skipping ovulation is, however, only one potential factor in estrogen dominance. In industrialized countries such as the United States, there can be many other causes, including:
- Excess body fat (greater than 28%)
- Too much stress, resulting in excess amounts of cortisol, insulin, and norepinephrine, which can lead to adrenal exhaustion and can also adversely affect overall hormonal balance
- A low-fiber diet with excess refined carbohydrates and deficient in nutrients and high quality fats
- Impaired immune function
- Environmental agents
- Hormonal Birth Control (even if only used a few cycles! source)
Hormonal birth control creates the perfect storm of hormone imbalance. Erratic periods and heavy bleeding are likely a result of estrogen dominance to begin with. Prescribing the pill to treat it just stacks more estrogen on top of excess estrogen. Second, hormonal birth control releases synthetic progesterone, which suppresses your natural progesterone production. Progesterone balances the effects of estrogen, and without enough, you end up with symptoms of estrogen dominance.
You don’t even have to be a lifetime Pill user to end up with hormone balance problems. If you used hormonal birth control and have symptoms of estrogen dominance after only a few cycles, the culprit could still be the exogenous hormones.
Signs You Have Estrogen Dominance
- PCOS- polycystic ovarian syndrome & ovarian cysts
- Endometriosis & Fibroids
- Hair loss and thinning of hair & eyebrows
- Depression & anxiety
- Mood swings (most often irritability and depression)
- Trouble falling sleeping (insomnia) and frequent waking
- PMS (yup this is a sign your hormones are off)
- Irregular or otherwise abnormal menstrual periods
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Sluggish metabolism
- Weight and/or fat gain (particularly around the abdomen and hips)
- Trouble sleeping/insomnia
- infertility & decreased fertility
- Low libido (decreased sex drive)
- Bloating (water retention)
- Headaches (especially premenstrually)
- Hair loss
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Cold hands and feet (a symptom of thyroid dysfunction)
- Foggy thinking, memory loss
- Fat gain, especially around hips & thighs
- Accelerated aging– premature wrinkling, graying of hair, etc.
Estrogen dominance has also been linked to allergies, autoimmune disorders, infertility, ovarian cysts, and increased blood clotting, and is also associated with acceleration of the aging process. Even various types of cancer are linked to estrogen dominance such as breast cancer and uterine cancer.
Ways to Decrease Estrogen Dominance
Here’s what you can do to decrease estrogen dominance:
- Take Estrogen Detoxifying Supplements: Read more about the 2 supplements I feel are mandatory for Estrogen Dominance HERE
- Follow a hormone-balancing diet:
- Low Carb, High Healthy Fats (coconut oil, avocado oil, high-quality olive oils)
- No Sugars or sweeteners (all sugars spike insulin and those that don’t still increase cravings)
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Get adequate protein around 20% of your diet (too much protein will spike insulin!)
- No alcohol (sorries). But you can try a glass of dry-farmed wine which is low in sugar for special occasions. But it’s the alcohol itself, not just the sugar that makes it a no-no.
- Get enough fiber: Estrogen is excreted by the bowel; if stool remains in the bowel, estrogen is reabsorbed. So make sure you go at least once a day, preferably twice. Coffee helps a lot of people too!
- Exercise to Lose excess body fat: Go for slow movements in perfect form like weight training. Stay away from high-intensity workouts that can increase stress hormones making Estrogen Dominance much worse. Workouts should be relaxing and stress-free.
- Detoxify your liver: If your liver is overworked detoxing from insulin spike, it will have trouble detoxing excess Estrogen too. Should the liver have to work hard eliminating toxins such as alcohol, sugar, drugs, excess caffeine, or environmental agents, the liver’s capacity to cleanse the blood of estrogen is compromised. Some people (myself included) have a gene that makes it even harder for the liver to detox. Your liver may also need more support. A supplement called Choline Bitartrate will help in this case. You may also get choline from egg yokes. Other ways to help your liver detox is fasting, intermitted fasting, a liver cleanse, or Milk Thistle Seed Extract.
- Lower your stress: Meditation, Yoga, and/or carve out some quiet alone time.
The Only Way To Know For Sure You Have Estrogen Dominance
Unfortunately, trying to guess based on symptoms alone is a dangerous endeavor. I always recommend getting the proper hormone testing to see how your hormones fluctuate. You want to see what other hormones may be an imbalance, check your thyroid, and always check your adrenals. It’s rare you just have one out of balance. It’s usually a combination. Look for a dried urine-based cycle long hormone test. You’ll need a functional medicine practitioner to review and interpret results. I highly recommend not going to a traditional doctor. If you need help with this, please see our service HERE.
Get to the comments
Let me know if you know of anything else I should add. Let’s help out each other!