Estrogen Dominance - Causes and How it Can be Regulated
Hormones play crucial roles in women's health, from deciding how we sleep, eat, and energy levels to how our bodies react to stress, which is why hormone imbalances can be overwhelming. Two vital hormones run the show in your body; estrogen and progesterone.
Estrogen is a female sex hormone produced in the endocrine system. The primary role of estrogen is to promote growth and sexual development, especially during puberty, menstrual cycle, and pregnancy. Estrogen is also needed for bone health and balancing cholesterol levels.
Progesterone, on the other hand, is produced in the adrenal glands by the ovaries and placenta and is secreted by the female reproductive system. Primarily, progesterone regulates the uterine lining, regulates the menstrual cycle, and maintains the early stages of pregnancy.
You should note that estrogen is essential in regulating the activities that go on in your reproductive system, as well as other body systems. And as expected, estrogen levels rise and fall as women age.
But when you have high estrogen, you have a hormone imbalance that can cause several health challenges. Estrogen dominance disrupts your body's reproductive processes, increases the risks of specific health issues, and makes you experience unpleasant symptoms.
So, why does estrogen dominance happen, and how can you control it? Read on to find out.
What Is Estrogen Dominance?
In simple terms, estrogen dominance happens when there are hormone imbalances between your estrogen levels and progesterone. Estrogen dominance affects your other sex hormones, like progesterone, which is as vital as estrogen.
Progesterone strengthens your uterine lining for pregnancies. Ovulation must occur for your body to produce progesterone because progesterone balances your estrogen levels. Progesterone also reduces cancer risk, enhances deep sleep, protects you from uterine fibroids, and gives you a sense of relaxation.
There are two ways estrogen dominance happens. The first is when your estrogen levels are balanced, but your progesterone production is low. When you have high estrogen, it could be due to PCOS, an imbalance in your stress hormones, or inflammation. And since your body produces progesterone when you ovulate, taking birth control pills can be an underlying cause of the imbalance between your estrogen and progesterone.
Another way is when you have high estrogen but your progesterone levels are normal. This could be because your body produces excess fat cells, you have poor digestion, impaired liver detoxification, microbiome imbalance, or xenoestrogens from your environment.
This tells you that hormonal imbalances between estrogen and progesterone affect your other hormones.
Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
When you have too much estrogen, the following are unpleasant symptoms you might notice in your body.
Weight gain around your midsection, thighs, and hips
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Water retention and swelling
Low sex drive
Reduced cognitive function
Although there are other symptoms of estrogen dominance, these are the primary ones that will alert you when your estrogen levels rise.
Factors That Cause Estrogen Dominance
Increased Insulin and Cortisol Levels
Estrogen dominance happens when you produce cortisol and insulin in large quantities - large enough to be imbalanced. Insulin and cortisol participate in your body's stress responses and sugar levels, and when they're imbalanced, they affect other hormones like testosterone levels, thyroid, and sleep hormones.
Birth Control Pills and Hormone Replacement Therapy
Control pills stop your ovulation, but if you don't ovulate, you won't produce progesterone, which can lead to higher estrogen levels. Hormone therapy increases the synthetic estrogen in your body, which is much more difficult for your body to get rid of.
Poor Liver Detoxification
The liver detoxifies estrogen, which your body gets rid of through bowel movement. But if your liver doesn't function properly and eliminate estrogen, it will lead to excess estrogen buildup.
Alcohol consumption contributes to too much estrogen in the body. Alcohol increases the circulation of testosterone or androgens and estrogen, as well as increases cortisol levels, which lead to high estrogen.
The fat cells in your body take part in estrogen production, and when your body stores more fat tissue (adipose tissue), it causes high estrogen because body fat secretes estrogen.
For a healthy diet, your body requires protein, zinc, magnesium, omega-3 foods, and vitamins. Without these, your body won't handle estrogen metabolism properly, and you'd have high estrogen.
Genetics is another cause of high estrogen. Although some women may produce too much estrogen, they don't suffer from any negative symptoms, while some might. But this depends on how their bodies metabolize the three pathways for estrogen metabolism.
High estrogen levels can also be caused by chemical estrogens like beauty products and pesticides that you absorb from your skin. When these get into your body, they assume the form of your natural estrogen and cause estrogen dominance.
Conditions Associated With High Estrogen
When estrogen dominance increases, it might worsen these conditions if you have any of them.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Herbs Suitable For Estrogen Dominance
The following herbs are excellent for removing excess estrogen and improving that female hormone balance.
Turmeric root supports the liver and digestive tract, riding these organs of excess estrogen, thereby reducing premenstrual symptoms. Turmeric also interferes with androgen and estrogen signaling molecules. These turmeric features make it highly beneficial in reducing the risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Even if you don't have some of these symptoms, you can't go wrong with adding turmeric to your diet plans.
Ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties that make it excellent for balancing thyroid, insulin, and testosterone levels. Similarly, women experiencing menopause have hot flashes and night sweats, but taking ginger will ease the discomfort associated with these conditions.
Hormonal changes affect your menstrual cycle, sleep and energy levels, weight and metabolism, and fertility. But due to its anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon improves hormonal imbalance by enhancing weight loss, regulating PMS, and improving PCOS. Cinnamon balances blood sugar levels, lowers inflammation and improves your gut health.
Black pepper contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that improve cholesterol levels and control blood sugar and brain and gut health.
Lemongrass is often used for cooking, preparing herbal medicine, and skincare products. Lemongrass contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties and works effectively in balancing estrogen. Its functions include relieving stress and anxiety, depression and reducing cholesterol levels. You can also use lemongrass oil to massage your body because it releases muscle tension.
Licorice root is one of the longest existing herbs cultivated as far back as the 16th century. Licorice root is a demulcent that soothes the tissues in cases of stomach upset and a hormone balance herb that supports the adrenal glands.
Although raspberry fruit is delicious, it doesn't have as many nutrients as its leaves. Raspberry leaves contain most nutrients that help with estrogen dominance, including B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Raspberry leaf enhances nerve functions and reduces PMS symptoms in postmenopausal women.
Chamomile contains flavonoids - compounds that contain antioxidants and help your body fight toxins. Chamomile has soothing properties that calm anxiety and enables you to relax. Some other benefits of chamomile are relieving painful periods, enhancing bone health, reducing inflammation, and treating insomnia.
Fennel seeds contain fiber that enhances digestive health and estrogen regulation. For years now, fennel seeds have been used because they balance hormones, are rich in vitamins, boost immunity, promote healthy weight gain, and relieve digestive issues.
Because of the bioactive compounds that hibiscus flowers contain, they are often used to make teas, supplements, and extracts. Besides, hibiscus also contains antioxidants, flavonoids, magnesium, and vitamins B and C, some of which are necessary for regulating estrogen. Hibiscus is a type of hormone-balancing herb, and it lowers blood pressure, eases liver damage for proper estrogen elimination, and contains anti-cancer properties.
Other Lifestyle Practices That Help Regulate Estrogen Dominance
Although integrative medicine helps to balance this female sex hormone, other healthy lifestyle practices can regulate estrogen dominance.
Eat Healthy Foods
Practicing eating healthy, you should regularly have cruciferous vegetables on your plate. These vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables contain indoles, a compound that enhances the liver's estrogen metabolism.
Sulforaphane and fiber are other compounds found in cruciferous vegetables. These properties also help the liver get rid of high estrogen, provide antioxidant support, and enhance the elimination of estrogen. Avocado, beans, berries, whole grains, and apples are high fiber foods and will work wonders for high estrogen when you add them to your diet.
Let's not forget about vitamins, especially the B vitamins. B vitamins include B6, folate, and B12, which significantly balance your sex hormones - estrogen and progesterone. You can obtain these vitamins from plants and animals, and some of their sources include avocado, chickpeas, nuts, bananas, nutritional yeast, asparagus, peas, whole grains, plant milk, and leafy greens.
The body gets rid of excess body fat, but healthy fats are another food to include in your diet. Fatty acids and omega-3 improve cardiovascular health and cognitive function and contain anti-inflammatory properties. Eggs, chia seeds, avocado, flax seeds, olive oil, and coconut contain healthy fats and omega-3.
Lastly, you should also include foods that act as aromatase inhibitors, which include hot peppers, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and oats. Aromatase inhibitors treat breast cancer and reduce the amount of estrogen your fat cells produce.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Chronic stress levels increase cortisol production, causing high estrogen and worsening health conditions. Cortisol is the fight or flight hormone produced in the adrenal glands that decide how your body responds to stress.
Progesterone is considered a building block for cortisol, and when your stress levels increase, your progesterone production drops, indirectly leading to estrogen dominance. Stress management differs for many people, but some ways you could do that are exercising, journaling, listening to music, or meditating. Find a strategy that works for you, and regularly check your cortisol level.
Exercise is a wonder, and it does so much for hormone balance. Exercise enhances your body's natural metabolic processes and encourages your estrogens to become "good" estrogens. These are easier to break down and cause fewer negative symptoms.
Secondly, exercise helps you lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, and regulate your weight gain with the appropriate muscle mass needed for hormone production.
Thirdly, exercise gets rid of body fat. Fatty tissue contains aromatase enzymes that convert androgens to estrogens. Although a required amount of body fat is essential for balanced hormone production, too much of it causes high estrogen. So, to prevent this from happening and to maintain healthy body weight and hormone metabolism, add physical activities to your daily routine.
Reduce Your Exposure To Chemical Estrogens and Hormone Therapy
You come in contact with chemical estrogens in your environment, which makes it hard to get rid of them. But doing the following will reduce contamination and how they affect you.
Use products made with stainless steel, ceramic, and glass for storing food, eating, and drinking. Reduce your use of plastic containers because they contain an organic compound called bisphenol A - BPA.
Remove your shoes before going into your home. After a few hours outside, your shoes pick up pesticides and other chemicals.
Lastly, since hormone therapy increases estrogen dominance, it would be best if you avoid it to give your progesterone a chance to balance out the estrogen.
For hormonal balance, it would be best to ensure your hormone levels are in check. You can seek advice from a health professional and check your progesterone levels regularly. However, our teas, cycle harmony tea and anti-inflammatory tea, support hormone balance, regulate estrogen, and balance progesterone levels. They also offer a range of other health benefits and establish balance in your overall health.