Estrogen Dominance: Hot flashes, uterine fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, or unexplained weight gain… sound familiar? You might have estrogen dominance. Most estrogen dominance goes undiagnosed and mistreated, both by allopathic and alternative medicine. Today we dive into all things estrogen and how women (and men!) can and should focus on maintaining healthy, balanced estrogen levels.
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
What is Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance occurs when there is too much estrogen in the body; specifically, there is too much estrogen to progesterone 1. Estrogen and progesterone are two of the main hormones that our body produces and cycles through for sexual and reproductive health. They have various roles, like regulating a woman’s menstrual cycle and playing an essential role in pregnancy.
Estrogen itself is not bad; in fact, it is a vital hormone for health. The problems of estrogen dominance occur when an imbalance (with progesterone) is present 1. Women experiencing menopause with low estrogen levels can still be estrogen-dominant if their balance to progesterone is unfavorable or if their liver is malfunctioning.
Although estrogen and progesterone are known as dominantly female hormones, both men and women have estrogen and progesterone. Men need progesterone to produce testosterone (the dominant male reproductive hormone) 2.
Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
The symptoms for estrogen dominance mirror those of many other hormonal imbalances, infections, and conditions– so addressing symptoms and knowing the causes can help adequately diagnose (and then treat) the problem. This issue is especially true when you can also examine the common root causes of estrogen dominance (in the next section) and do a side-by-side of symptoms and how you promote the imbalance through lifestyle.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include: 3-7
- Swelling and breast tenderness
- Fibrocystic lumps in breasts
- Uterine fibroids
- Decreased sex drive
- PMS moodiness, especially with irritability, tearfulness, or mood swings
- Menstrual cycle-related acne breakouts
- Mood swings
- Irregular menstrual cycle (very long or very short)
- Heavy periods
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Weight gain (especially around hips and buttocks)
- Poor sleep
- Poor memory
- Hair loss
- Gynecomastia (breast tissue growth) in men
- Erectile dysfunction in men
Causes of Estrogen Dominance
Whether or not you are displaying estrogen dominance symptoms, understanding the causes can help prevent (or reverse) the imbalance. Although prevention is always ideal, the first step to healing estrogen dominance is to stop engaging in the lifestyle factors that lead to the imbalance in the first place.
The general cause of this imbalance is the introduction of estrogen mimics, which have a different chemical structure but behave the same as estrogen biologically in the body. These foods and products can throw out the body’s natural hormonal balance 8.
Some of the causes of estrogen dominance include:9-14
- Consuming too many estrogen-mimicking foods (like highly processed soy and soy milk)
- Exposure to estrogen-mimicking toxins (like plastics)
- Estrogen replacement therapy (during menopause)
- Taking the pill
- Insulin and cortisol imbalances
- Weight gain
Getting to the Root of Estrogen Dominance
A 24-hour urine collection from a company like DUTCH or GENOVA shows estrogen metabolites are the definitive tests for confirming estrogen dominance in the body. This test has to taken at the appropriate times of the month when these hormones are peaking or bottomed out 15.
Blood tests are essentially useless for these hormones because they do not measure cortisol rhythms and estrogen metabolism, nor do they track hormone replacement as thoroughly 16. As a result, blood tests are not sensitive enough to measure the different levels of estrogen.
Testing can get expensive and is not always accessible by all. For that reason, a relatively reliable diagnosis can be made if individuals are exposed to some of many of the common causes of estrogen dominance and are also experiencing symptoms.
Testing can be more valuable to those who have a history of estrogenic cancers (like breast and colorectal) in the family 17. Testing for estrogen dominance can then be used to prevent imbalances before they become a more severe problem.
2. Remove the Estrogen Mimicking and Hormonal Interfering Products and Foods
A significant part of any healing journey starts by removing the triggers of the issue itself. Addressing the foods and products that are estrogen-mimicking or hormonally interfering is an excellent place to start.
Stop using plastic. Although many people are aware that BPA’s in plastic is toxic, the reality is that plastic, in general, is the problem 18. Avoiding all plastic contact is the optimal solution, but especially single-use plastic (like water bottles, cutlery, takeaway containers, and cling wraps). Single-use degrades even faster than hard plastics, which causes these toxic chemicals to leach into the water, food, or whatever else they touch.
Be wary of taking birth control or hormone replacement therapies. The body produces progesterone after ovulation, and since the pill stops ovulation, none is produced. This can lead to higher levels of estrogen 19. Hormone replacement therapy provides high levels of synthetic estrogen, which the body finds more complicated to eliminate than natural hormones.
Go organic whenever possible to avoid increasing your body’s toxic load caused by pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified foods. The liver is the main organ that processes not only these toxins but also estrogen! So if it is burdened with more than it can handle, toxicity may build up and cause further issues for hormones and whole-body health 20.
Avoid estrogen-mimicking foods like processed soy or soy milk. These foods mimic or antagonize natural estrogen production, throwing out the body’s natural hormonal balance. Organic or not, foods like soy interfere with estrogen levels 21.
3. Foods, Herbs, and Supplements
Various foods, herbs, and supplements support estrogen’s proper metabolizing (allowing it to exit the body).
The liver is the main organ associated with metabolizing estrogen. Liver health is crucial because for estrogen to exit the body, it must pass through the liver 22. Some of the best foods, herbs, or supplements that support estrogen metabolism and liver health include: 23- 26
- B vitamins (especially coming from pasture-raised meats and eggs)
- Omega 3 essential fatty acids (like salmon, mackerel, and sardines)
- Anti-oxidant rich foods (like berries, onions, garlic, ginger, and turmeric)
- Fiber (like chia seeds, nuts and seeds, and green vegetables)
- Selenium (like brazil nuts, eggs, seafood, and meat)
- Bitter foods (like dandelion greens, kale, arugula, and turnip)
- Cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower)
- Burdock root and dandelion root tea
The gut also plays a crucial role in metabolizing estrogen; ensuring that gut health is on track matters 27. Certain gut bacteria promote the reabsorption of estrogen into the body! For this reason, gut health and hormonal health go hand in hand.
Some of the best foods, herbs, or supplements that support gut health include: 28- 31
- Fermented foods (like kimchi, sauerkraut, or yogurt)
- Healthy fats (like animal fats, avocado, and olive oil)
- Prebiotic foods (chicory root, dandelion greens, garlic, onion, and leeks)
- High fiber foods (like raspberry, artichoke, and broccoli)
- Peppermint tea
Estrogen dominance occurs when the ratio of estrogen to progesterone is imbalanced. Symptoms of estrogen dominance include bloating, fibrocystic lumps in breasts, uterine fibroids, decreased sex drive, weight gain, and PCOS. Healing from estrogen dominance requires removing the estrogen-mimicking foods and products (like plastic).
By introducing liver and gut-healing foods, you can support estrogen’s healthy metabolism out of the body. Avoiding toxins and going organic when possible can also help alleviate the burden on the liver.
Healthy estrogen to progesterone ratios are crucial for a balanced mood, healthy muscle maintenance, how you look and feel in your body.
But an influx of environmental toxins, processed food, and sugar — not to mention heightened stress levels — have put a massive burden on our bodies. One side effect of all this is a heavily-burdened liver. This powerful detox organ is under more stress than ever… and that is leading to some serious hormone imbalances.
Femicrine not only influences healthy estrogen balance, but it also boosts the microbiome and supports breast health.
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Medical Disclaimer: This article is based upon the opinions of Dr. Daniel Pompa. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Pompa and his associates. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD for accuracy of the information provided, but Dr. Pompa encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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