Estrogen dominance is more prevalent in women that one would thing. Estrogen plays an important role through the course of our reproductive lives and beyond. It regulates our menstrual cycle, strengthens our bones, controls our cholesterol, and much more. When our estrogen levels drop, we experience menopausal symptoms. But even before menopause, varying levels of this vital hormone can wreak havoc. Estrogen requires a delicate balance with other hormones: when that balance is disturbed, we can experience a wide range of frustrating symptoms.
This hormonal imbalance often occurs during a particularly busy time of our lives, the period from about age 25 through to menopause. As a result, our practice sees many women who are dealing with unexplained weight gain, mood swings, and libido problems. But there is help available. A few simple steps can help you restore balanced estrogen levels and feel like yourself again.
How Do You Know if You Have Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance can impact many areas of our lives, with symptoms that range from subtle shifts to major disruptions in well-being. Many women in this age group assume these issues are a normal part of aging or a consequence of their busy schedules. But even a slight imbalance in hormone levels can lead to a number of problems.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance can vary greatly by person, but often include:
- Increased weight, especially in the belly and hip area
- Heavier periods
- More severe PMS
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Fibrocystic and painful breasts
- Uterine fibroids
- An increase in fatigue
- Loss of libido
- Water retention
- Foggy brain
- Memory troubles
- Insomnia and restlessness
Does that list look familiar? We see many women every month with complaints like these. We understand how frustrating they can be, especially when you’re unable to find effective treatment. And, of course, the complex relationship between estrogen and our emotions can only magnify the frustration. Who wants to feel irritated about feeling irritable?
Men can also suffer an excess of estrogen. In men, estrogen dominance can manifest in the following symptoms:
- Enlarged breasts
- Sexual dysfunction
- Abdominal weight gain
What Causes Estrogen Dominance?
To understand estrogen dominance, we have to consider the role of another important hormone, progesterone. Progesterone and estrogen help balance one another. During the years leading up to menopause, hormones can shift. Estrogen dominance isn’t necessarily a surge of estrogen, but an imbalance in the ratio of estrogen to progesterone and there is not enough progesterone to balance out the estrogen.
To a certain extent, estrogen dominance is a natural part of our aging process. However, recent years have seen a rise in estrogen-dominance complaints, and our busy lifestyle may be a big factor. Environmental and behavior issues can increase estrogen levels.
- Excess body fat can increase estrogen levels. Of course, this creates a frustrating cycle for some women, as the fatigue associated with estrogen dominance makes it difficult to lose weight.
- Chronic stress will throw off your hormonal balance, often resulting in excess estrogen. In times of stress, your body produces too much cortisol. Cortisol negatively affects progesterone production, so the result is a shortage of progesterone to balance the body’s estrogen.
- Hormone replacement therapy that doesn’t take all hormones into account and doesn’t treat with customized dosing, can inadvertently create estrogen dominance. Women who have had a hysterectomy are often prescribed estrogen only which is a recipe for hormone imbalance.
- Environmental sources of estrogen in our environment, particularly with regard to plastics and pesticides can negatively affect hormone levels.
- When we’re not getting enough sleep, our melatonin levels decrease. And melatonin helps regulate estrogen levels. If we don’t have enough melatonin to keep estrogen in check, we can end up in a cycle of sleep trouble.
How Can You Restore Hormone Levels?
Our practice can work with you to re-balance your hormonal havoc. Starting with an accurate diagnosis, we can create a lifestyle plan that works for you. As a starting point, these changes are recommended:
- Increase your intake of fiber. Insoluble fiber can bind with estrogen in our digestive tract. As a result, excess estrogen is eliminated with a high-fiber diet.
- Go organic. Many pesticides have been identified as estrogen disruptors. That means they disturb the natural balance of estrogen. Research is still being done in this area, but the connection is becoming clear. Plus, organic food is delicious!
- Get enough sleep. We know – you’re busy. But sleep will help restore your melatonin levels and, subsequently, your estrogen balance.
- Choose your health and beauty products wisely. Xenoestrogens have a similar molecular structure to estrogen. Bisphenol A (BPA), which is often used in plastics, is an example of an xenoestrogen. When these substances enter our bodies, our system reacts as if they are actual estrogen. Some simple steps, such as avoiding plastic food storage containers and products with artificial scents, can help reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens.
- Get moving. Exercise will relieve stress levels and could help reduce body fat. Strength training and yoga are great activities.
- Decrease stress. Again, we realize this is easier said than done! But an estrogen-dominant diagnosis might be the wake-up call you need to take a step back and assess your stress levels. Are you doing too much?
Do you think you might have a hormonal imbalance? Do the estrogen dominance symptoms sound a bit too familiar? Test, don’t Guess. Book an appointment with one of our experienced Naturopathic Doctors. We will help you to understand your hormones and create a plan of action to bring your body back to good health.