Is Estrogen Dominance Why You Feel Like Crap?
Women’s hormones fluctuate throughout their menstrual cycle. Sometimes estrogen is high, leading up to ovulation, and sometimes progesterone is high, like during the luteal phase. But when your estrogen levels are elevated compared to progesterone levels, even with this natural ebbs and flows in mind, it’s known as estrogen dominance.
Hormonal imbalance can actually be the underlying cause of numerous health symptoms that women deal with on a daily basis. Elevated estrogen, in particular, is one of the most common hormonal imbalances that I see with my health clients…and why menstrual cycles get a bad rap with women. Hello excruciating periods and wild PMS!
But it doesn’t have to be like this. Excruciating periods and wild PMS are not just “part of being a woman” they are clues to a deeper hormonal imbalance.
The good news is that when you find out that estrogen dominance is why you haven’t been feeling like yourself or why you’re struggling with your health; you can make simple lifestyle changes to balance out your hormones and get rid of your estrogen dominance symptoms FOR GOOD!
When your hormones are balanced, your menstrual cycle can surprisingly be your SUPERPOWER, ladies!
What is Estrogen Dominance?
You could be struggling with estrogen dominance in a couple of ways. The first one is the most obvious. You have too much estrogen in your body, leading to estrogen dominance.
But sometimes, it’s not that simple. When you check your estrogen levels, we have to look at the ratio of estrogen to progesterone. This is what determines if you have estrogen dominance.
For example, you could have normal progesterone levels but high estrogen levels. OR you could have normal estrogen levels and low progesterone levels. When looking at estrogen in relationship to progesterone, estrogen levels are still elevated, suggesting estrogen dominance.
This is why you can’t just look at estrogen alone. Having a Functional health provider that knows how to read labs is just as important as running labs!
So what are some signs and symptoms that could suggest that estrogen dominance is why you’re feeling like crap?
Estrogen Dominance Symptoms
When your estrogen levels are elevated in relation to progesterone, you may have a variety of symptoms. Remember that your symptoms may not be the same as your friend’s with estrogen dominance. Also, these symptoms could be caused by another underlying imbalance in your body. It’s important to work with a Functional health provider to truly understand what’s going on in your body so you can get to the root of it in the most effective way.
Signs and Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
- Painful Periods
- Severe PMS
- Brain Fog
- Swollen/Tender Breasts
- Heavy Periods
- Irregular Periods
- Mood Swings
- Extreme Fatigue
- Weight Gain
- Low Sex Drive
- Fertility Issues
What Causes Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance could result from multiple factors and most of the time, a combination of factors.
- Poor Bowel Movements
- Constant Stress
- Environmental Toxins
- Poor Gut Health
- Suboptimal Liver Function
Poor Bowel Movements
Your body gets rid of excess estrogens through excretion. If you’re not pooping daily, then your body’s ability to get those estrogens out of your body is reduced. The issue is that these excess estrogens get reabsorbed back into your bloodstream and start building up. Your liver won’t be able to keep up, and your body’s toxic burden will slowly start to rise. This can contribute to worse estrogen dominance symptoms and more severe health issues.
(To learn more about this process check out this episode from SHE Talks Health Podcast with fellow FDN-P Kylene Terhune: “How Poop Impacts Your Estrogen Levels”).
Even if you aren’t constipated, there can still be an underlying mechanism keeping your estrogen recirculating.
Your estrobolome, which is located on the lining of your gut, contains an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase, which is responsible for regulating estrogens. If you eat unhealthy foods like sugars, fast foods, artificial ingredients, and pesticides, your gut won’t contain the healthy bacteria that carry out these jobs. As a result, your estrogens won’t be properly metabolized, leading to estrogen dominance.
When you are stressed out, your body will create several stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. However, our bodies weren’t built for constant stress on a daily basis, which makes our brain tell our body to overproduce cortisol and to temporarily decrease sex hormone production (like progesterone!).
This leads to an ESTROGEN DOMINANT state because there isn’t enough progesterone on board to counter act estrogen.
Sadly, our current environment is saturated with toxins. Even your makeup and personal care products have hidden toxins in them. In some, the toxins aren’t even hidden! The ingredients are right on the label. (for more information on this check out this podcast I did about Toxic Personal Care).
The issue is that some of these toxins that are in the products you use daily, can mimic estrogens. Your body doesn’t know the two apart, leading to an estrogen dominant state and expressing itself through your symptoms- foggy brain, messed up menstrual cycle and wild mood swings!
Also, when your body is constantly being bombarded with toxins, your liver and detox symptoms can’t keep up. Your toxin bucket starts overflowing and causes damage to your cells and other bodily functions.
Poor Gut Health
Your gut can SIGNIFICANTLY influence your hormones. Your gut is made up of millions of bacteria- good and bad kinds. Having a healthy balance between the two is key to optimal hormone levels. This is because certain bacteria play a role in regulating, secreting, and producing hormones.
Suboptimal Liver Function
Your liver is one of the main organs that keeps your estrogen levels in check. It’s responsible for metabolizing and excreting excess estrogens with an enzyme called Cytochrome P450. It turns estrogen into estrogenically inactive metabolites that are excreted through your urine and/or stool. If your liver function is lacking, then it’s not doing its job optimally. Estrogen metabolites can build up, which can be even more toxic than the original estrogen form.
When you address THESE problems, that’s how you can fix your elevated estrogens and estrogen dominance-related health issues.
How to Fix Estrogen Dominance Naturally
If you want to start balancing your hormones naturally and address your annoying and sometimes painful symptoms, here’s where you can start. There’s no ONE secret magical cure. However, incorporating and creating healthy habits and lifestyle is key to keeping your body balanced now and in the future.
- Manage your stress levels
- Love your gut: eat fermented foods, drink bone broth, and kombucha.
- THROW THOSE TOXIC PRODUCTS OUT! Use non-toxic alternatives instead!
- Try eating foods in the Brassica family
- Eat clean, organic meats.
- Filter your water with a high-quality water filter. I love Berkey, AquaSauna, and Clearly Filtered because they filter out nasty metals and medications that are unfortunately hiding in our water sources.
- Support good liver health. Liver-supporting foods may be recommended.
- Supplement with magnesium citrate to promote bowel movements
How do you test for estrogen dominance?
If you’ve tried everything above and you aren’t seeing a shift it might be time to get some testing done. Working with a Functional Provider is essential in addressing any underlying hormonal imbalances like estrogen dominance. You won’t know for sure what you are dealing with until you test.
For example: are you estrogen dominant in the gut, liver or just not creating enough progesterone? All of those scenarios require a different approach. For example, if your estrogen is stuck in phase 1 of your liver detox pathways, a supplement like DIM or Glutathione 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.
You can test your estrogen and progesterone with hormone testing labs like the DUTCH Complete Test and you can see if your estrobolome is working as it should through a marker on the GI MAPS stool test. I use both of these with my health clients.
Ready to DITCH those symptoms for Good?
Work with me to figure out what’s truly going on with your hormones. I highly recommend DUTCH and GI MAP testing, which is what I use inside my programs so we can get to the ROOT cause of what is causing these debilitating symptoms and give you an exact action plan on how to attack it.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to educate you about options to take care of your body and as a self-help tool for your own use so that you can reach your own health goals. It is not intended to treat or cure any specific illness and is not to replace the guidance provided by your own medical practitioner.
If you are under the care of a health care professional or currently use prescription medications, you should discuss any dietary changes or potential dietary supplements use with your doctor, and should not discontinue any prescription medications without first consulting your doctor.
This information is to be used at your own risk based on your own judgment. If you suspect you have a medical problem, we urge you to take appropriate action by seeking medical attention.