We all know the crucial role of sex hormones for the smooth functioning of our body’s reproductive system. Most of the time though, we only assume that its primary role is to normalize women’s menstrual period. While this is true, it actually has more vital components that help our internal system. Sex hormones, particularly estrogen, influences our mood, supports even cardiovascular health.
However, there are times when the body manifests certain abnormalities – caused directly or even indirectly with the condition of our hormones. Irritability, hair loss, weight gain, insomnia are just some examples. The problem sometimes is, we equate these symptoms to stress or certain illnesses but not to the state of our hormones. What if these symptoms are a result of estrogen dominance?
Estrogen Dominance, What We Need To Know
The ovaries produce estrogen in the female body. However other cells to produce this sex hormone such as fat tissues and adrenal glands. Estrogen plays a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle, promoting the growth of uterine lining and influencing the thyroid glands.
Men actually have estrogen too, which is balanced out by testosterone.
Problems arise however when the body has high estrogen or shows estrogen dominance. There’s no fixed amount that determines if the body has estrogen dominance. It basically asserts that the secretion of estrogen is higher than the other sex hormones. When estrogen dominance occurs, progesterone, another sex hormone that balances the estrogen, is less thus causing further complications.
Symptoms And Signs
Women, from their mid-thirties and up, could suffer from estrogen dominance and the symptoms may vary per individual. Of course, the signs may not simultaneously occur but often the symptoms are further magnified by stress and other external factors. The warning signs include:
|Hair loss||Fibrocystic breasts|
|Slow metabolism||Irregular menstrual cycle|
|Thyroid problems||Extreme premenstrual syndrome|
|Poor memory||Trouble sleeping leading to insomnia|
|Bloating||Feeling depressed and irritated|
|Heavy period||Tenderness around the breast area|
|Intense headaches||Fat gain, especially around the upper thighs and hips|
The problem is, sometimes these symptoms are dismissed as they are oftentimes associated with non-threatening conditions that affect women. However, if these symptoms persist or estrogen dominance is not diagnosed properly, it could lead to more serious conditions for women such as development of certain cancers (e.g. breast cancer), autoimmune disorders, hastening of the person’s aging, blood clotting, hypertension, dementia, diabetes, growth of cysts in the ovaries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke and, worsening the person’s allergic reaction to certain substances and foods.
For men, the symptoms are less but pose great risks too. These signs are:
• Increased moodiness
• Weight gain
• Feeling depressed and irritated.
• Erectile dysfunction
What Causes Estrogen Dominance?
Unfortunately, estrogen dominance has several root causes. While several ways of preventing its occurrence are aplenty, women and even men are susceptible even if they take the necessary precautions. Some of the causes include:
- Age. By the time the female reaches her mid-30s, the production of both progesterone and estrogen slows down. Unfortunately, the decrease is more extreme on the side or progesterone, thus the level of estrogen is higher. For this, it would be difficult for the body to fight off estrogen since progesterone is much lower.
- Synthetic estrogen compound. Also called Xenoestrogens, they contribute to estrogen dominance as these synthetics are found everywhere, in cosmetics, detergents, creams, pollution. Some chemicals and substances that copy estrogen are Parabens, Benzophenones, and Phthalates.
The absorption of these substances is at times through the skin when products that contain these synthetic estrogen compounds are applied.
- Too much stress can also lead to estrogen dominance since stress can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance as too much cortisol, insulin and norepinephrine are synthesized when the body is stressed out.
- Obesity or 28 percent of excess body weight. Fat tissues (Adipose) also generate estrogen, so when there is excess fat, estrogen dominance is likely to take place.
- Hormonal contraceptives. Unfortunately, a medication that can help solve irregular menstruation, profuse bleeding during menstruation and birth control can actually cause estrogen dominance. Using these contraceptives for a long period of time enhances the production of more estrogen.
- Some types of food. It’s common knowledge that few farming techniques use synthetic hormones to fatten up the animals. And of course, once consumed, these hormones add up to the estrogen that the body naturally produces, thus increasing the level of estrogen. Some herbicides too, like Glyphosate, are used in farming which affects the estrogen level. Glyphosate is associated with the development of some cancerous cells in some women, caused by a disruption in estrogen and endocrine.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy. The use of such, especially by menopausal women can exacerbate the level of estrogen by further increasing the amount of estrogen leading to estrogen dominance.
How To Know If You Have Estrogen Dominance
Since some of the signs may be mistaken as mere stress-induced, others may not take the manifestations seriously. Thus it is important to have oneself checked just to rule out any possibilities.
Doctors most likely will recommend blood tests to check the estrogen level. Estrogen levels do vary however depending on the age and gender of the person. The menstrual cycle also has an effect as it can shift, or irregularly rise and fall.
When diagnosing, the doctors look at the level by measuring in the picogram, then assesses the types of estrogen in the blood such as Estradiol, Estriol, and Estrone. The dominant is the Estradiol form.
Ways On Preventing Estrogen Dominance
Thankfully, natural methods of treatment and prevention work in reducing and lessening the occurrence of estrogen dominance. Here are some ways that one can easily incorporate:
Weight control or management
Since fat tissues (Adipose) also synthesize estrogen, losing excess weight could help in decreasing the possibility of having estrogen dominance.
Consume food packed with fiber
Eating fiber-rich foods like vegetables and fruits can help in removing estrogen in the body. Irregular bowel movement will only lead to the re-absorption of estrogen, so eliminating them from the system truly helps. Eat also food that contains vitamins C and B and glutathione as they can strengthen the liver, helping this vital organ flush out excess estrogen.
Practicing yoga, meditation and being thankful
Stress can lead to the production of enzymes that can disrupt the estrogen level so meditating or doing yoga can help manage stress or at least learn how to cope and manage.
Limit exposure to Xenoestrogens
Although this is quite tough as the environment has toxins that contain xenoestrogens, one can still reduce by avoiding products that have parabens, benzophenones, and phthalates.