Estrogen dominance is a really common topic on women’s health circles because it’s so prevalent and so important.
While we love a lot of what’s been written on the subject, we have our own unique perspective on estrogen dominance in the setting of the feminine cycle. We’ve seen first hand what supporting what’s ALREADY going on in the female body–the right things at the right times–can do for your health.
That’s what we love to teach you, because we know if you do the right things at the wrong time, you’ll end up spending a whole bunch of time and energy and get mediocre results. We love holding you hand through that process so you’re confident in not only what you’re doing for your body, but confident that you are doing it at the correct time.
Estrogen and the Feminine Cycle
Estrogen levels get established in the first half of the cycle (follicular phase) and then are supposed to plateau and eventually decrease the second half other cycle (luteal phase).
Estrogen dominance refers to elevated estrogen levels in the second half of the cycle.
Additionally, estrogen levels have to be balanced with other important hormone levels, like progesterone. Even if overall estrogen levels are low on the DUTCH test that we use in our Healthy Hormones Group Program, women will have symptoms of estrogen dominance if their estrogen to progesterone balance is off.
When You’re Not Making Too Much Estrogen…But Have Too Much Estrogen
But it’s not increased estrogen creation that always does us ladies in. The hypothalamus and pituitary are in charge of sending signals down to the adrenals and ovaries. If this signal gets scrambled or interrupted, estrogen levels can rise out of normal range.
The liver is in charge of metabolizing and inactivating hormones and toxins in our environment that act as hormone mimicking substances. If the liver is busy processing a lot of sugar, alcohol, and chemicals from your environment, it can’t take care of all the hormones it is responsible for. This ends up being one of the most common underlying issues that lead to symptoms of estrogen dominance.
In a similar way, the lymphatic system has to be functional enough to bring hormones and hormone-mimicking substances from the rest of the body to the liver where they can be processed.
After they are inactivated and metabolized by the liver (if all goes well), it’s up to the kidneys and colon to get these compounds out of the body. If this elimination doesn’t occur, these hormones get partially reactivated and reabsorbed into the body.
Again, all of these system-based problems cause symptoms of estrogen dominance.
When you think about the huge variety of toxins we are exposed to in our air, water, food, beauty products, and furniture, it’s not surprising that estrogen dominance is the most common hormonal imbalance in modern women!
Birth control and supplemental hormones are other common causes…and can cause hormonal imbalances for a much longer than you would expect. Physical and mental stressors will cause a spike in inflammation which places a damper on the endocrine system, leading to dysfunctional hormone signaling and wonky levels.
Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen dominance symptoms are quite diverse but include problems such as:
- Hormonal acne
- Brain fog
- Fatigue and poor sleep
- Headaches and migraines
- Heavy periods
- PMS and PMDD
- Anxiety and depression
- Weight loss resistance or weight gain around the abdomen
- Strong cravings for sugary or salty foods
- Fertility issues
- Low libido
- Gyne and breast cancers in the long-term
Because the symptoms women experience are so individualized and have a great deal of overlap, it’s almost impossible to make accurate assumptions if estrogen dominance is occurring based solely on symptoms.
Symptoms and Results
Yes, a detailed look at symptoms is really important for putting the entire picture together. But ultimately, it’s crucial to get functional lab work unless you want to guess blindly for years and potentially cause more damage (which, let’s face it, most ladies don’t want).
Our preferred test is the DUTCH test, because it gives SO much information on many different organ systems involved in hormonal imbalances. With this test, we can easily see exactly what is causing estrogen levels to remain high or at least out of balance with the other hormones.
Real Life Example
I (Alex) even got caught on this myself with my most recent DUTCH test! With my extensive pelvic organ damage from endometriosis and the symptoms I was having, I was definitely expecting both my estrogen and progesterone levels to be low, but that my estrogen would still be high when compared in a ratio to progesterone.
Turns out, I had flat out estrogen dominance! My estrogen levels were truly high. Part of it was a flare in my Celiac disease, causing inflammation and increased stress on the liver. Gut flora alterations are known to impact hormone levels so it’s not too surprising that a flare in my Celiac disease set me up for this type of problem.
Another part of it was leftover artificial hormones from several rounds of IVF where I was getting pumped full of injections. (A similar thing can happen when women consume a diet high in phytoestrogens, although not to as high of a degree.)
I saw all of this information in my test results, and a whole bunch of other helpful insights into my body as a whole. Compared to the guess-and-try-out-random-supplements-I-read-about process I used to use, getting some tests and getting a protocol specially tailored for my unique problems is nothing short of a game changer!
I started my protocol–which includes DIM with bioperine (for better estrogen metabolism), berberine and ALA (for better blood sugar control), and a unique blend of maca strains–and was noticing a difference in my energy levels, cravings, and moods within a week and a half.
What’s funny is that I’m doing less “work” now on my health than when I was limping along before my test results came back!
Other things I’m doing is focusing on glutathione rich food options such as pomegranate juice, making sure to get enough fiber (to bind and “take out” processed hormones), adding in berries and walnuts to my diet, and trying to have some kind of sprouts several times a week.
Lastly, you all probably know by know that I’m a huge believer in the power of nutrient density and variety! In order to help my detoxification organs work more smoothly and decrease inflammation in the body, I spend the first half of my cycle making a concerted effort to eat high-quality organ meats (nature’s multivitamins!), seafood, a huge varieties of veggies, and lots of different medicinal teas such as valerian root and nettle.
Ok, so that’s a little peek into estrogen dominance. We had to create a 3 month program just to cover all of the possible things that can go into a toolkit for estrogen dominance so there’s no way we can cover it all in one article! But it’s a start.
Up Next in the Series
Since we’ve talked about having too much estrogen around, it’s time for us to see the other side of the coin: estrogen deficiency. Coming up!