Updated: May 22
Did you know estrogen dominance is becoming so common, it is now at an all-time high!?
And the crazy thing is, so many of the causes have nothing to do with how 'healthy' we are, but are sadly due to the increasingly toxic environments we are exposed to.
But fear not, I am going to explain all the things to look out for when it comes to estrogen dominance, and the best way combat it so that you can keep your hormones balanced and happy!
So what are some of the signs and symptoms of estrogen dominance?
- IRREGULAR PERIODS
Normal estrogen levels are required for optimal reproductive health, including menstruation. Estrogen dominance suppresses the vital functions of progesterone during periods and can cause irregular and missed periods.
- DEPRESSION AND MOOD SWINGS
The effect of estrogen can extend to the brain. Having a dominance of estrogen can affect mood and cognition – and may lead to anxious or depressive feelings.
- WEIGHT GAIN
A specific type of estrogen, estradiol, assists in the regulation of metabolism. Consequently, an excess of this can lead to weight gain. Weight gain is common symptom of estrogen dominance
- HEAVY FLOW
Estrogen 's job is to makes the endometrium aka the lining of the uterus thicker (and more likely to shed) and progesterone makes it thinner. Experiencing a heavy flow is often caused by too much estrogen and too little progesterone
Edema is the abnormal accumulation of fluid in tissues of the body, often most noticed in the legs. Women tend to retain more water than usual when estrogen levels are elevated
- SLEEP DISTURBANCES
Estrogen dominance is thought to make women more susceptible and sensitive to internal and external stressors. As a result, sleep disturbance and even insomnia are often common.
Estrogen is responsible for fertilisation and ovulation, however if estrogen is in excess it can prevent both. Estrogen dominance cam result on an anovulatory cycle (where no ovulation occurs) and this must be rectified for conception to occur.
- BREAST SENSITIVITY
The presence of estrogen causes the ducts of the breast to swell. An excess of estrogen may result in symptoms of swelling and tenderness.
Although these are not all the signs and symptoms, they are some of the most common experienced by women suffering with estrogen dominance .
What are the causes estrogen dominance and how can you treat it?
It is so important to understand that when it comes estrogen dominance our diet, inflammation and environmental exposures all play a crucial role.
Every day we are under constant attack by environmental toxins, hormone-mimicking xenoestrogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals that can lead to the creation of bad estrogen metabolites.
Here are some of the important (and often hidden) causes of estrogen dominance:
Our water has become heavily polluted with endocrine disrupting compounds including pesticides and fertilisers, synthetic and natural estrogens (from livestock and prescription medications etc), mercury and other chemicals.
TIP: Opt for fresh filtered water and think about installing filters through out your home and on your showers too.
Endocrine disrupting pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides found on conventional produce (such as our fruit and veggies, and the hormones + medications found in commercially raised animal products can negatively interfere with your natural hormone activity, metabolism and inflammation levels.
TIP: Eliminate foods from your diet that contain hidden estrogens, this includes conventional meat, dairy products, and produce. Opt for lots of organic plant produce, and grass-fed, pasture-raised animal products (if still choosing to eat animal products) whenever possible.
HOUSE HOLD PRODUCTS
So many of our beauty, cleaning and personal care products often contain parabens, phenoxyethanol, phthalates and loads of other compounds that all have estrogenic activity and can have a huge impact on our estrogen levels. Xenoestrogens in your beauty and skin care products are especially harmful because they are absorbed directly into your skin, and so dont have the chance to be detoxified through your liver
TIP: Switch over to natural, non- toxic products throughout your home. (and avoid products in plastic packaging)
PLASTIC AND BPA'S
Plastic in all its forms, (including packaging, water bottles, storage containers etc) contain hormone mimicking xenoestrogens that can leach into what you’re eating or drinking and cause major problems for your health.
The negative estrogenic activity of the plastic can be further increased by microwaving, dishwashing, and exposing plastic to sunlight (I think of all the times i used to have a plastic bottle in my hot car ekk!)
Another hidden source of BPA is receipts, which are printed on thermal paper and are a major source of endocrine-disrupting bisphenol-A (BPA). Studies show that people who handle receipts frequently have significantly elevated levels of BPA in their urine.
TIP: Switch over to products like glass that do not contain plastic or PBA ,and avoid touching receipts
When your microbiome (the enviroment in your gut which is home to trillions of microorganisms) is inflamed or out of balance (ie: SIBO) your gut enzymes can’t properly metabolise estrogens which can lead to estrogen dominance.
TIP: Support your body with easy to digest foods and pre and probiotics
Heavy metals (such as lead, cadmium, and mercury) have estrogen-mimicking properties. Some experts actually believe that the presence of these endocrine-disrupting elements in our environment may be one of the causes of earlier-onset puberty which is becoming increasingly common.
TIP: Consider having your heavy metals checked via a blood test or hair test.
When you’re stressed your body uses the sex hormone progesterone to make cortisol. Low levels of progesterone are a common cause of estrogen dominance.
TIP: Identify the root cause of your stress and use tools such as yoga, adequate sleep, being in nature etc to reduce your stress levels. (This will be different for everyone, but find a method that works for you)
THE CONTRACEPTIVE PILL AND HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
Most oral contraceptives and HRT drugs contain estrogen without the necessary progesterone to maintain proper hormone balance. They are both full of toxic synthetic hormones that are very hard to be metabolised by the liver.
TIP: Take the time to really understand what these drugs do and why you are/ want to take them. The contraceptive pill, will not fix the root cause of hormonal imbalances and symptoms and is simply a band aid approach that will mask the underlying issue.
And when it comes to HRT you may want to consider bioidentical hormone therapy which is a more natural option and uses hormones extracted from plants (rather than synthetic hormones).
More ways to help detoxify excess estrogen and xenoestrogens, and support healthy hormones:
Load up on organic brassica/cruciferous vegetables: These are great for supporting the liver’s detoxification processes. This includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale, watercress, turnip, horseradish and cilantro.
Hormone balancing and detoxifying herbs: Specfic herbs in the right rations can be an incredible way to help detoxify excess hormones, and balance hormones overall.
Cysterhood tea contains a blend of all natural organic herbs that support optimal estrogen metabolism and detoxification. You can read more about Cysterhood tea here.
More water: Water is needed for all bodily functions including healthy bowel movements (which help to remove toxins and excess estrogen from the body)
High fiber foods: Fibre is critical for healthy bowel movements which are the main way for excess estrogen to exit the body. Eat more whole foods in their natural form and less processed and refined carbohydrates and sugars. Fiber is a natural source that binds to estrogen once it has been excreted by the liver and brings it into the intestinal tract to be eliminated.
Probiotic-rich foods: Are essential for the metabolism of hormones and help to create a healthy microbiome. This helps to reduce the risk of bad bacteria converting estrogen. Probiotic-filled foods include fermented foods such as, kimchi & sauerkraut, coconut kefir, apple cider vinegar, natural kombucha and organic tempeh + miso.
Healthy Fats - Healthy fats are essential for healthy hormones. Nuts and seeds are great source of healthy fats and flax seeds contain lignans that help balance hormone metabolism and block the negative effects of excess estrogens.
To find out more about the herbs I used to balance my hormones check out this blog post