Here’s what you need to know
1. Estrogen dominance causes many of the female troubles you put up with on a daily basis.
2. If left unchecked, estrogen dominance can develop into more serious issues, like endometriosis and cancer.
3. Estrogen dominance happens when we don’t have enough progesterone to balance estrogen. It happens naturally as we age. It can also be caused by poor diet, xenoestrogens, hormonal birth control and stress.
4. There’s so much you can do to make things better. Health and healing is in your hands. You just might need a bit of help to get started!
We tend to just “put up” with our female troubles, like PMS, period pain, irritability and headaches. We mask them with unsatisfactory solutions like pain killers and birth control pills and feel frustrated because we don’t really understand why these symptoms manifest.
Often your doctor isn’t much help either, readily prescribing extra strong pain relief and/or birth control which is just going to make the problem worse in the long run. For so many women pain killers and birth control aren’t satisfying solutions but we feel like we have no other options.
I know how frustrating and hopeless it can feel. I’ve spent years researching hormones to help manage my own health challenges and what follows is a quick introduction to what I’ve learned about estrogen dominance. The good news is that there is so much you can do about it. I encourage you to follow the links at the bottom of this article to learn more. Doctors aren’t going to give you the answers you seek. Health and healing will come from you deciding to do something about it.
Let’s get into it.
What is estrogen dominance?
Estrogen has many important functions in the body but it also has some undesirable effects, particularly if it is out of balance. One way it can be out of balance is when it becomes “dominant” in relation to progesterone.
Estrogen dominance happens when we don’t make enough progesterone to balance estrogen or when, due to lifestyle and environmental factors, we accumulate excess estrogen in relation to progesterone.
Estrogen dominance causes so many of the female troubles we have on a daily basis that it’s crucial to be aware of it and monitor yourself for signs of it. There are many steps you can take to bring your body back into balance and before more serious effects manifest.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include:
- period pain
- heavy menstrual bleeding
- abnormal smears
- decreased libido
- decreased metabolism
- thyroid problems, and
- cancers such as breast, ovarian and cervical.
What causes estrogen dominance?
Estrogen dominance happens when our body does not make enough progesterone to balance estrogen. As we age our body naturally slows progesterone production and this process can start in our 30s. We normally associate aging with declining estrogen, but a significant decline in estrogen actually doesn’t happen until closer to menopause.
Often the problems we have when we are in our mid-30s and 40s can be related to declining progesterone.
Estrogen dominance can also be caused by lifestyle factors. Diet, stress, hormonal birth control and toxins from the environment can all contribute to estrogen dominance.
A low-fiber diet can cause estrogen dominance because fiber binds estrogen and helps it to be excreted from your body. When you are constipated, the stool hangs out in your body for a long time and estrogen can get reabsorbed. If you follow a low calorie or a low carbohydrate diet, it’s unlikely you’ll be getting enough fiber. Government guidelines usually recommend about 28g of fiber per day, however hormone experts often recommend 34g or more. When I work with clients we track fiber intake because it’s so important. When we first start tracking, many women don’t even consistently eat over 20g of fiber per day!
In addition to fiber, you should reduce your exposure to pesticides from food because they have chemical structures that are similar to estrogen and they act like estrogen in your body.
Toxins from the environment, alcohol, medications and too much sugar can also impair your liver function. Your liver is responsible for getting rid of used hormones you no longer need so it’s important not to overload it. If your liver can’t do it’s job, those hormones stay in your body and contribute to the estrogen overload.
Xenoestrogens (environmental estrogens) are impossible to avoid completely. When they get into the body they mimic estrogen and can trick your body into responding as though estrogen is present. Studies have shown a relationship between environmental exposure to xenoestrogens and cancer, including cancers of the reproductive system, breast, lung, kidney, pancreas, and brain.
Common sources of xenoestrogens include pesticides, plastics, cleaning and beauty products, animal foods, drinking water and birth control pills.
Xenoestrogens are a very real concern with the uncontrolled introduction of new ones in environment growing everyday. We can’t avoid exposure to them completely but there are some things you can do – choosing organic, eco-friendly and BPA-free products as much as possible. Choosing glass bottles and food containers over plastic is also an easy swap to make.
Stress and low progesterone
When you are chronically stressed, your body “steals” progesterone to make more cortisol and this can lead to a situation where you do not have enough progesterone to counterbalance estrogen. This contributes to all sorts of hormonal problems including PMS, period pain, hot flashes, low libido and difficulties conceiving.
Your body is designed to deal with short-term stressors. However, stress that lasts over a longer period of time can lead to this situation where your body needs to steal progesterone. Long-term stress includes not only the obvious sources like financial worry, unsatisfactory work environments, and relationship problems but also the less obvious and often unseen sources such as erratic blood sugar, inflammation and a never ending to-do list.
Are the odds against us?
When it comes to estrogen dominance, it seems like the odds are stacked against us. It gets really frustrating and tempting to deal with things by taking a pill or worse, cutting out our beautiful womb to stop the problem once and for all. I’m in no way judging women who do that but you can’t take a pill or cut out a fibroid and expect the problem to go away. The hormone balance that contributed to the problem will still be there. A pill only masks the problem.
I’m not trying to scare you. Well, maybe I am a little. I want women to truly understand how estrogen dominance can impact their health as they age. I believe that so many of the problems we experience could be reduced and even eliminated with protocols to reduce estrogen dominance and bring the body into better balance especially by reducing inflammation.
If you have any of the symptoms of estrogen dominance you should address them as soon as possible to avoid the more serious ones that can and will develop. You should find a doctor or other health professional who understands estrogen dominance and who offers holistic solutions, but there are also many things you can do on your own. Start by reading through the articles listed below. You’ll find some supplements that will help, such as DIM and curcumin, but it’s also extremely important that you clean up your diet.
If you want to talk through your situation, you can book a session with me. We can talk about nutrition, make sense of test results and set up a protocol to help you start taking control of things. You’ll be surprised at how much difference we can make!
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