What’s Estrogen Dominance & 18 Reasons You Should Care

Estrogen dominance. Have you heard of it?

If you answered yes, it’s not surprising because estrogen dominance (ED) is a bit of a buzzword. And while buzzwords become familiar the reality is that sometimes we don’t grasp what they actually mean.

Nevertheless, estrogen dominance can be particularly common in perimenopause.

Simply put…

To clarify, estrogen dominance refers to a ratio imbalance of estrogen and progesterone. 

Basically, estrogen dominance means estrogen levels are high in relation to progesterone. 

Therefore, even if you are in post-menopause you can still be estrogen dominant because it hinges on the RATIO.

Another key point is that progesterone levels decline around age 35 whereas estrogen doesn’t begin diminishing until later. As a result, estrogen and progesterone often become out-of-kilter in perimenopause. 

Indeed, progesterone is low and estrogen levels seesaw. Subsequently, when the seesaw is on an upward swing estrogen dominance can occur.

Progesterone & Estrogen levels estrogen dominance

 

Estrogen dominance. An undiagnosed epidemic?

Of course, these hormonal highs and lows are part of the menopause transition. However, they can be magnified by the number of xenoestrogens in our lifestyles.

Xenoestrogens imitate estrogen and are found in modern diets, water, plastics and environmental pollutants. Furthermore, many items like household cleaners and personal care products such as skincare and makeup contain them.

Photo by Alexander Kim from Pexels

Significantly, several functional medicine practitioners* believe estrogen dominance is one of the most undiagnosed epidemics globally.

9 symptoms of estrogen dominance

Estrogen dominance has been linked to:

  1. bloating
  2. headaches/migraines
  3. fibroids
  4. endometriosis
  5. fibrocystic breasts
  6. mood swings
  7. weight gain
  8. allergies
  9. accentuated menopausal symptoms

Additionally, excess estrogen has been associated with:

  • thyroid dysfunction
  • autoimmune disease
  • hormone-dependent cancers such as breast, ovarian and uterine
So, the big question is, are you estrogen dominant?

18 possible signs of estrogen dominance

  1. Anxiety
  2. Bloating
  3. Heavy periods
  4. Diminished libido
  5. Fibroids
  6. Cellulite
  7. Breast swelling/tenderness
  8. Breast lumps
  9. Mood swings and irritability
  10. Headaches
  11. Bloating
  12. Depression
  13. Crying spells
  14. Trouble sleeping
  15. Fatigue
  16. Spider or varicose veins
  17. Hair thinning/loss
  18. Weight gain
Fatigue in estrogen dominance
Photo by Pixabay

Liver health & estrogen dominance

Excess estrogen is usually filtered out of our bodies via the liver. To combat estrogen dominance, it’s important to realise that we need to prioritise liver health. To that end, the liver has two detoxification pathways. However, for many of us they’re not working optimally. Dr Libby explains:

“High levels of estrogen are usually the result of the liver recycling estrogen, rather than detoxifying it. The liver has to change estrogen before it can be elimimated. But if the biochemical pathways for estrogen detoxification are congested and are too busy dealing with other ‘liver-loaders’, estrogen gets recycled rather than detoxified,” she says.

13 ways to help estrogen dominance

Broccoli for estrogen dominance
Photo from Pexels by Anna Guerrero
  1. Take 40+ or 55+. These are evidence-backed and formulated to help naturally balance estrogen.
  2. Use a water filter.
  3. Eat whole foods with an emphasis on plants. Since some are classified as phytoestrogens they may help balance estrogen naturally. Get your free phytoestrogen list here.
  4. Load up on the cruciferous vegetable family daily because they support the liver. Cruciferous veggies include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy and brussel sprouts.
  5. Go for five to nine servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day.
  6. Get educated. In order to do that, read up on the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.
  7. Avoid processed, refined foods.
  8. Put the brakes on ‘liver-loading’ alcohol and caffeine.
  9. Get rid of plastics, instead use glass or stainless steel.
  10. Make it a priority to reduce your stress levels to support your adrenal and thyroid glands. They’re also affected by estrogen overload.
  11. Reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens by using natural household cleaners, makeup, skincare and body care.
  12. Focus on supporting healthy gut flora. Try VitaminKIWI which is packed with antioxidants, soluble fibre and digestive enzymes.
  13.  Ensure you poop regularly by eating lots of fibre.

Knowledge Nugget:

3 Types of Estrogens

Estrogens are actually a group of hormones. The most well studied are:

  • Estrone (E1) – mainly stored in fat and muscle tissue. A weaker estrogen commonly found in post-menopausal women.
  • Estradiol (E2) – the strongest type of estrogen and generally the main player in women of childbearing age. Sometimes labelled ‘aggressive’ it’s been linked to female disorders such as fibroids and other gynaecological conditions.
  • Estriol (E3) – the weakest estrogen – pregnancy is the only time we have a lot of it.

In Conclusion

All in all, one of the most important things you can do is listen to your body. After all, when things are out of whack it can manifest as symptoms. Your job is to listen to them. 🙂

And of course, if we can be of help and support to you please don’t hesitate to reach out.

*Functional medicine looks for the root cause and examines every aspect of lifestyle.
 
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Disclaimer: 

Our articles are a guideline only. Any signs and symptoms you are experiencing could be due to a number of reasons. For this reason, this should not take the place of medical advice. If you’re experiencing ongoing signs please see a functional medicine practitioner.

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Post-menopause


This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.

Perimenopause

Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.