Estrogen is an important reproductive hormone that can get out of balance and cause estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is a diagnosis that was unheard of until Dr. John Lee theorized that many of the hormonal imbalances women experience are due to excess estrogen. Before Dr. Lee, health practitioners often associated hormonal imbalances with too little estrogen. However, estrogen dominance is increasingly being recognized by doctors as a real problem. This is why so many doctors now recommend progesterone cream for hormonal problems. Adding progesterone can help offset access estrogen due to the balance between estrogen and progesterone. This balance is important to understand when learning about estrogen dominance.
1. Estrogen and Progesterone
Estrogen and progesterone each have a specific role they play during a woman’s monthly cycle. In the first half of the cycle estrogen rises and causes the lining of the uterus to thicken. In the second half of the cycle estrogen falls and progesterone rises. Interestingly, progesterone acts in opposition to estrogen by helping the body break estrogen down. When estrogen and progesterone are in balance the reproductive system works very well. However, if you have too much estrogen, or estrogen dominance, you can begin to experience problems.
2. Health Impact
Hormonal imbalances can have a huge impact on your health. When you have too much estrogen you can experience anxiety, breast tenderness, cyclical headaches, irregular bleeding, water retention, and weight gain. Estrogen dominance can also cause infertility, endometriosis, amenorrhea, heavy periods, and fibroids. On the extreme side estrogen dominance can lead to uterine cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Clearly, too much estrogen is not a good thing, and it can make you feel quite miserable.
3. Too Much Estrogen
Estrogen dominance occurs when you have too much estrogen, specifically in the second half of your cycle. As you know, estrogen is supposed to decrease during the second half of your cycle. However, when it remains unnaturally high you can begin to experience PMS symptoms, which can affect both your mood and the way you feel physically. There are many different reasons estrogen dominance occurs. Diets high in fat can cause estrogen dominance. Also, stress is another reason women have high estrogen levels. Yet, the primary reason women experience estrogen dominance is due to xenoestrogens.
Xenoestrogens are man made chemicals that mimic estrogen and cause estrogen levels to rise. Unfortunately, xenoestrogens are found in many different places, including pesticides, animal products, and industrial pollutants. It is impossible to completely eliminate your exposure to xenoestrogens. However, you can reduce the amount of xenoestrogens your body comes in contact with, which will decrease the amount of excess estrogen in your body and help with symptoms of estrogen dominance. Buying organic produce will help you limit xenoestrogens by eliminating pesticides. Also, reducing or eliminating your consumption of animal products can greatly decrease the amount of xenoestrogens you consume by limiting pesticides and taking away your exposure to growth hormones. It is important to note that xenoestrogens are just as harmful to men and children as they are to women. They can cause low sperm counts in men and can cause early puberty in children, which means it is important for everyone to try and limit the amount of xenoestrogens they come in contact with.
5. Adding Progesterone
Aside from limiting your exposure to xenoestrogens to combat estrogen dominance, you can also treat estrogen dominance by adding progesterone. Progesterone is a key hormone in your body that is used to make testosterone, cortisol, and estrogen. If you are extremely stressed out, your body will convert much of its progesterone into cortisol. This can result in an uneven balance of progesterone and estrogen, and cause estrogen dominance. To bring your progesterone levels up, you can use over-the-counter progesterone creams or ask your doctor about a prescription. However, whenever you are using hormone replacements you should be very careful. Because hormone balance is very delicate, hormone replacements should only be used if other steps taken to decrease estrogen dominance don’t work.
6. Stress Reduction
Since stress is often an underlying cause of estrogen dominance, reducing your stress levels can bring your hormones back into balance. There are many different ways you can reduce stress. Meditation and breathing exercises are two great methods for stress reduction. Practicing yoga is another step you can take to reduce stress. In addition to trying these things for reducing stress, you should also find ways to decrease the amount of responsibilities you are taking on. Remember, it is always ok to tell someone no. Finally, don’t forget to get enough sleep. Too little sleep can put a lot of unnecessary stress on your body.
7. Dietary Changes
There are certain dietary changes you can make to decrease estrogen dominance. Adding foods rich in phytoestrogens is one way you can help estrogen dominance. This seems counterintuitive; however, phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors and prevent xenoestrogens from having impact on your body. Foods rich in phytoestrogens include soy, licorice, yams, and alfalfa. Don’t go overboard on phytoestrogens because just a little bit can make a big difference. In addition to eating foods rich in phytoestrogens, you should also eat cruciferous vegetables, which help get rid of excess estrogen in the body. Decreasing the amount of fat, especially animal fat, can also aid in lowering estrogen levels.
Estrogen dominance can cause serious health effects, which is why it is important to pay attention to any hormonal symptoms you are experiencing. If you do think you have estrogen dominance, you should take steps to try and bring your hormones back in balance. Many of the steps you can take are quite easy and will result in better health overall, such as eliminating pesticides in your diet. Have you ever experienced estrogen dominance?