Are you feeling frustrated with mood swings, weight gain, or painful periods? It could be estrogen dominance.
Estrogen is a hormone best known for its role in reproductive health. But it also affects your cholesterol, blood sugar, bone density, skin, brain function, and much more.
Your body needs estrogen to work properly. But too much estrogen can wreak havoc on the body. This can lead to a slew of symptoms and even increase your risk of certain health conditions.
So read on to learn what estrogen dominance is, what causes it, and the steps you can take to reverse it naturally.
What is Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen is known as a female hormone, but both men and women have it. Women just produce it on a much larger scale.
It works with its sister hormone progesterone. Together, they help regulate your menstrual cycle and prevent the uterine lining from becoming too thick.
Estrogen is the star player during the first half of your cycle (the follicular phase). Progesterone rules the show during the second half (the luteal phase) and helps keep estrogen levels balanced.
But when there’s not enough progesterone to neutralize estrogen’s effects, things can get out of hand. This imbalance is known as estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance can happen in a few ways:
- You’re making too much estrogen
- You’re having trouble breaking estrogen down or excreting it
- You’re not making enough progesterone to keep estrogen in check
What Causes Estrogen Dominance?
Many things can set the stage for estrogen dominance. And often, there’s more than one culprit to blame.
Here are some of the most common causes of estrogen dominance:
Certain medications, such as birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, can cause estrogen to rise.
Excess body fat
Your ovaries make estrogen, but so do your fat cells. So the more excess fat you carry, the more estrogen your body will produce.
These chemicals, also known as synthetic estrogens, mimic estrogen’s effects on the body, causing estrogen to climb. Xenoestrogens, such as BPA, phthalates, and PCBs, are found in most plastics. But they’re also used in pesticides, cosmetics, shampoo, lotion, and more.
Progesterone and your stress hormone cortisol are made from the same building blocks. When you’re stressed, your body’s demands for cortisol shoot up. And when this happens, your body favors cortisol production over progesterone. This is known as the “cortisol steal.”
Your liver doesn’t just break down toxins. It breaks down hormones as well, including estrogen. So if your liver function is weak, it’ll struggle to remove excess estrogen, causing it to build up.
Some strains of gut bacteria help regulate estrogen. So if your gut health is out of whack, your estrogen levels may be too.
Lack of ovulation
Progesterone rises in women after an egg is released. If you’re not ovulating regularly, your progesterone levels will suffer, making estrogen more dominant.
What are the Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance?
Since estrogen has far-reaching effects on the body, when it gets off kilter, symptoms can be all over the map.
Here are some common estrogen dominance symptoms to watch out for:
- Irregular cycles
- Heavy or painful periods
- Weight gain (especially around your waist, hips, and thighs)
- Worsening PMS
- Loss of libido
- Mood swings, anxiety, or depression
- Fibrocystic breasts or breast tenderness
- Uterine fibroids
- Fertility issues
- Poor sleep
- Hair loss
- Brain fog or memory issues
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fertility issues
- Low libido
- Dry skin
Estrogen dominance most commonly happens during perimenopause, in a woman’s late 30s to 40s. But symptoms can show up at any stage of life for women or men.
Risks of High Estrogen
Estrogen dominance is not only uncomfortable. If unaddressed, it can become dangerous.
When high estrogen levels go on for too long, it increases the risk of certain health conditions, including:
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Blood clots and stroke
- Thyroid dysfunction
That’s why keeping your hormones balanced is crucial to your overall health.
How Can I Check My Estrogen Levels?
If you suspect you’re suffering from estrogen dominance, you can get lab testing to find out for sure. Urine and saliva tests can give you a peek at your hormone levels to see if they’re in the right balance.
These lab tests can check your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol levels to see how well your hormones are functioning.
How to Reverse Estrogen Dominance Naturally
Working with a functional medicine doctor can help you figure out why your estrogen got imbalanced in the first place.
But in the meantime, here are some tools that can rebalance your hormone levels and help your body flush out excess estrogen:
Fill up on fiber
When you’re constipated, excess estrogen gets reabsorbed by the gut. So to get rid of excess estrogen, you need to poop regularly (ideally at least once a day). And fiber is the key to keeping your bowels moving.
One study found that women who eat a high-fiber diet excreted three times more estrogen in their poop and had 15-20% lower estrogen levels compared to women on the SAD diet.
In general, women should aim for at least 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 38 grams. Here are some high-fiber foods that can help you reach that goal:
- Raspberries – 8 g in 1 cup
- Pears – 5.5 g in 1 medium pear
- Apples – 4.5 g in 1 medium apple
- Avocado – 4.6 g in ½ avocado
- Broccoli – 5 g in 1 cup
- Sweet potato – 4 g in 1 cup
- Quinoa – 5 g in 1 cup
- Lentils – 8 g in ½ cup
- Black beans – 7.5 g in ½ cup
- Chia seeds – 5 g per 1 tbsp serving
- Almonds – 4 g per ¼ cup serving
Be sure to drink plenty of water to keep that fiber moving through you! Otherwise, it could have the opposite effect…
Support your liver
Your liver helps your body break down estrogen. So to keep estrogen in a healthy range, you’ll want to show your liver some love.
Here are a few ways you can support your liver:
- Eat plenty of cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
- Add broccoli sprouts to your salads, wraps, and smoothies.
- Limit sugar. Too much can overburden your liver.
- Avoid alcohol (or limit it at the very least). It impairs your liver’s detox.
- Drink dandelion or milk thistle tea. Both are liver-loving tonics.
Stress doesn’t just mess with your mood – it throws off your hormones big time. So managing stress is key to getting your estrogen in balance.
Stress is rampant nowadays, so I know this is easier said than done. But even a little stress relief can go a long way.
Here are some stress-busting activities to consider injecting into your day:
- Gratitude journaling
- Deep breathing
- Walking in nature
- Spending time with family and friends
- Sipping on a cup of tea
- Taking a bath
- Listening to music
Kicking these estrogen-like chemicals to the curb lightens your toxic load and helps keep your estrogen in the sweet spot. Win-win!
Here are a few ways to give xenoestrogens the boot:
- Swap out plastic food containers for glass and stainless steel.
- Choose natural, non-toxic beauty products and cosmetics (check out EWG’s database if your need guidance).
- Make your own DIY cleaners with vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils instead of using harsh chemical cleaning products.
Get plenty of sleep
For your body to be an effective hormone factory, you need proper sleep. That means a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
If you struggle to get enough shut-eye, here are some tips that can help improve your sleep:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends.
- Avoid caffeine after 2 pm.
- Reduce blue light exposure by shutting off electronics 1-2 hours before bed.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet, and cool room.
- Have a winding down routine to relax your way into sleep.
Implementing the dietary and lifestyle habits above should get you well on your way to hormone balance. But if you want a little extra support, supplements may help.
Here are a few of the best supplements for estrogen dominance:
- Vitex: Also known as Chasteberry or Chaste Tree, Vitex is an herb that’s nicknamed the “hormone harmonizer” for a reason. It promotes progesterone production to help estrogen levels stay in balance. One study found that Vitex reduced PMS symptoms for 93% of patients when taking over three cycles.
- DIM (diindolylmethane): This plant compound, found in cruciferous veggies, helps your body metabolize estrogen. Research shows it has antiestrogenic effects on the body in as little as two weeks.
- Magnesium: This mineral supports liver detox so your body can get rid of excess estrogen. Magnesium gets depleted by stress, so it’s not always possible to get enough through diet alone.
Balance Your Hormones with Functional Medicine in Orland Park, IL
The steps we covered will go a long way in restoring harmony to your hormones. But sometimes we can all use a little support.
So if you’re tired of struggling with symptoms of estrogen dominance and are ready to find relief – help is here.
At Anchored in Health, our Functional Medicine Doctor will use lab testing to assess your hormone function. From there, you’ll receive a customized treatment plan designed to get your hormone levels back in a healthy range.
So if you’re ready to experience how amazing your body can feel when your hormones are in balance, follow these steps:
- Contact us with questions or to learn more.
- Schedule your first appointment with Anchored in Health.
- Discover how functional medicine can help you harmonize your hormones so you can stop surviving, and start thriving.
Other Holistic Health Services Offered at Anchored in Health in Orland Park, IL
At Anchored in Health, we offer a variety of health and wellness services to help you feel your best. This includes functional medicine, acupuncture, genetic testing, thermograms, and the Shape ReClaimed program. Contact us to find out how we can help you improve your health and well-being.