Introduction to Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen dominance is quite common these days.
Luckily it is a little less common in us herbivores.
Estrogen is found in all bodies, but is found in greater amounts naturally in those with ovaries.
It is essential for the cyclical nature of your body.
This article will cover:
- common symptoms and signs of estrogen dominance,
- why estrogen is so important to the menstrual cycle and your overall health, and
- how to add in and avoid foods to support this system.
Estrogen and Your Menstrual Cycle
During a healthy menstrual cycle, hormones are created and released at specific times to produce very specific changes.
Without getting too deep into the woods, here is a description of estrogen levels during a menstrual cycle.
During your period, estrogen levels begin to rise.
This happens because follicles in your ovaries have been stimulated to begin maturing. One of these will eventually expel a mature egg.
The follicles, while growing and maturing, are also producing estrogen.
Soon one follicle is declared dominant and all the others fall away.
The levels of estrogen at this time are high enough to then signal the fertility signs used in tracking your cycles – increase in wet, lubricative cervical fluid; movement of cervix, soft, high, and open.
With estrogen levels reaching a certain threshold, ovulation takes place. The egg/ovum is released from the follicle and is picked up by the waving fingers of the ovarian tubes.
The outer portion of the follicle is left in the ovary and now begins to produce higher and higher amounts of progesterone, while still producing estrogen, though in lower amounts.
We are now into the part of the cycle known as the luteal phase and progesterone is the dominant hormone.
What is Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance occurs when there is excess estrogen in the body.
This can be caused by one or any combination of the following:
- hormone therapy, actually taking in more estrogen;
- ‘used’ estrogen cannot leave the body and is forced to continue to circulate;
- adipose (fat) tissue produces estrogen, may produce excess (this is mostly seen in menopausal/post menopausal bodies as well as those with high body fat);
- lack of sleep;
- overburdened liver;
- underactive thyroid;
- ingestion of xenoestrogens (external estrogen-like substances);
- tap water (due to increasing amounts of people on hormone drugs getting into water supply.)
If you think you may have estrogen dominance, here are some signs and symptoms to observe.
Signs of Estrogen Dominance
- Long fertile cervical fluid phases (could be weeks long instead of a few days)
- Delayed ovulation
- Irregular cycles
- Weight gain
- PMS symptoms
- Uterine fibroid tumors
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Symptoms relating to thyroid issues – weight gain, body temperature changes, slow metabolism…
Estrogen dominance, because of the reciprocal nature of estrogen and progesterone, will cause progesterone levels to decrease.
This then creates more symptoms that have to do with low progesterone as well as excess estrogen.
How to Decrease Estrogen Levels Holistically
The reasoning behind the recommendations for lowering excess estrogen are:
- Reducing estrogen going in the body;
- Help ‘used’ estrogen leave the body; and
- Increase progesterone levels.
This is a three-pronged approach to decreasing estrogen levels.
- Xenoestrogens – found in hormones (natural and synthetic) in dairy and meat, fertility drugs, plastic containers, containers that have BPA, non-organic foods (pesticides, herbicides). These accumulate in fat cells and stimulate the production of more estrogen.
- Tap water if your symptoms are really bad and you really want to go at this with everything you’ve got. Otherwise it is a pretty big Avoid.
- Organic foods. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 to see where to best spend your money for organic.
- Fiber. Always more fiber! All vegetables, fruits, whole grains contain a lot of fiber. This helps to keep the intestines moving – aka keep you pooping!
These are just a few things to get you started.
Start with what you can and when you have a firm grasp on that, then work on the next one.
Slow change is sustainable change!
To learn more about other menstrual symptoms, check out these articles:
A Word on Phytoestrogens
Some people believe that soy products increase estrogen in the body, but what I have found is quite the opposite.
Soy contains phytoestrogen which is a plant, estrogen-like compound that helps to regulate the estrogen made in the body.
They can take the place of estrogen on target cells and so inhibit the excess estrogen from being used.
The phytoestrogens have a more mild and shorter lasting impact so they save the body from estrogen’s more potent effects.
Some phytoestrogens to try are soy (fermented is great, always buy organic soy), flaxseeds, parsley, apples, cruciferous veggies (kale, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower…), and seaweeds.
If you find you are sensitive to soy, try the many other options!
Estrogen dominance can seem overwhelming when reading an article like this.
The key is to follow the three recommendations above and continue those for at least 3 months to notice changes.
Lots of times, these issues have taken years to build in your body, so it will take time for them to lessen.
Give yourself time and grace to change.
Your body is on a constant mission to heal itself.
By following recommendations to support the areas with which your beautiful body needs help, you will notice changes.
Your body will thank you with health and vitality.
Sometimes the hardest part is finding out what areas you need to support and help out.
This is exactly what I specialize in as a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant – pinpointing the exact body systems are most out of balance and then finding ways to support them.
It is really magical!
If you feel like you need personalized guidance from Carly…
I invite you to book a FREE Hormone Clarity Assessment by clicking on the button below!
Yours in plant love,