Estrogen & Progesterone
If you are dealing with hormone imbalances chances are you may have too much estrogen and not enough progesterone. Although there are definitely other common hormone imbalances such as high Testosterone in the case of women with PCOS or Low Estrogen & low Progesterone when the body is suppressed or going through menopause, the MOST common hormone imbalance I currently see in my practice is too much Estrogen to not enough Progesterone.
In this blog we’ll talk through what estrogen and progesterone both do, the most common symptoms of low progesterone + high estrogen, the causes for this imbalance and some quick tips on balancing it out! As with any suspected imbalance or internal stressor I would HIGHLY suggest Testing and not guessing so you can get a specific self treatment plan and get out of discomfort faster. For more information on how to do that with me in the safe container of EmpowerHER (12 week gut & hormone restoration program, click here.)
Okay let’s dive in!
The Importance of Progesterone
Progesterone is a female sex hormone that prepares the uterus for pregnancy. Progesterone is the main hormone of the luteal phase which begins following ovulation when the developing follicle releases an egg and what is left transforms into a temporary hormone gland called the corpus luteum. The drop in progesterone (and estrogen) at the end of your luteal phase triggers the beginning of your menstrual cycle.
Progesterone’s job is to maintain the lining of the uterus which makes it possible for a fertilized egg to implant if you’re trying to get pregnant. It also helps maintain healthy cervical mucus which provides nourishment and safe travels for sperm as it moves towards the egg. But pro-gestation is not the only thing his powerful hormone impacts. It is responsible for your mood & cognitive health, strong healthy bones, balancing estrogen, and boosting the thyroid.
When we have low progesterone it can REALLY wreck our style. Symptoms of low progesterone include: mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, low sex drive, and sleep disturbances, Breast tenderness, Headaches and migraines, V Weight gain, Irregular menstrual cycle, Short cycles, and Mid-cycle spotting.
But WHY am I low in progesterone!?
(I know, don’t shoot the messenger)
2. HIGH ESTROGEN
3. NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES
Like magnesium, b6, vitamin C, potassium are all important for progesterone!
4. LACK OF OVULATION CAUSED BY:
HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL, PCOS, HYPOTHYROIDISM, ELEVATED PROLACTIN, AGE, NSAIDS, INFLAMMATION — It’s also important to note that you can still ovulate and not create healthy amounts of progesterone for any of the above reasons.
Ook but Sophie, what do I do?!
Eating foods rich in B6, VC, MAGNESIUM, ZINC & HEALTHY FATS & lots of Fiber
MANAGE STRESS & GET TO SLEEP BABY!
Talk to your provider about CHASTE TREE BERRY, VITAMIN B6, liver supportive herbs
Above all else though please ladies….
TEST DON’T GUESS
We test, we don’t guess at symptoms. Because symptoms can often be far removed from the cause. Like Caroline, who had every reason to believe she was progesterone deficient – HECK she was even diagnosed with it 4 yers prior to working with me. When we ran her labs, we were surprised that she was actually estrogen dominant in her liver (See below). If we had her take progesterone and not clear out her liver then she wouldn’t have gotten any better! Now she’s got 0 migraines or other PMS symptoms!! So let’s take a look at estrogen!
The Importance of Estrogen
Before we rag on estrogen, please know that all our hormones play huge important roles in our body and estrogen is NO different. Estrogen is an amazing hormone that gives us our lips, hips, thighs, keeps our body and skin lubricated. It’s also important for bone health and gives us that va-va-voom! When you are coming out of the period haze (you know what I’m talking about – the fatigue and general heaviness of bleeding) – estrogen is what is going to pick up your spirits and give you some pep in your step!
So then why do I keep hearing about estrogen being so bad??
Because just like ANYTHING in life, too much of a good thing can cause issues. Estrogen when not kept in check by progesterone and other systems in the body can really cause some trouble. Here’s a not so fun list you can be experiencing when it comes to Estrogen Dominance
Symptoms of estrogen dominance
Heavy bleeding, Painful Cramps
Breast tenderness or cysts, Hormonal Acne
PMS or PMDD, Fibroids, Endometriosis
Menstrual migraines, Moodiness and frequent meltdowns
Depression or weepiness, Mid-cycle pain, Brain fog
OUCH – did you notice a lot of those symptoms listed are very similar to those of low progesterone? That’s because in order for you to have Estrogen Dominance, by definition you have to have more estrogen over progesterone! Remember my dear client Caroline above? Her Estrogen was sky high, so even though her progesterone was looking good she still had estrogen dominance!
So, what kind of things can we do to reduce estrogen dominance, cause it sounds awful!?
It really depends on what KIND of estrogen dominance you have.
1. Is it poor detox in phase 1 or phase 2 of your liver like Caroline?
2. Is it in your gut where the liver is doing great at packaging your estrogen up but your gut bacteria completely dumps estrogen and other toxins back into circulation
3. Or is it just straight up too much estrogen coming in from things like: caffeine & alcohol, poor sleep, because it’s converting too quickly from testosterone & inflammation is driving the bus, heavy metal toxicity that drive up estrogens, xenoestrogens – environmental estrogens that cause imbalances, conventional meat products which can raise estrogen.
4. Is your progesterone just so low that you are estrogen dominant? (hint: if it’s this one move back up to the top on strategies to support progesterone)
In order to find out you really do need to get your hormones tested, I highly recommend DUTCH testing which is what I use inside my programs so we can actually get to the true cause of what is causing these horrible symptoms and to give you an exact action plan as to how to attack it.
For example with the gut testing you could screen high for beta glucuronidase and need a supplement like calcium d glucurate or other GI detox support from infections & bacteria. Or if your estrogen is stuck in phase 1 of your liver detox pathways a supplement like DIM or Glutahione might be warranted. Or perhaps there’s an issue with phase 2 liver detox due to a genetic issue that is influencing your ability to detox properly. The possibilities are endless and you can spend a lot of precious time trying to figure out what is true for you.