HORMONE SERIES | The Deep Dive Into Estrogen Dominance
Okay people, let’s talk about estrogen. In particular, estrogen dominance. This is a personal battle of mine and I’m sure I’m not alone. If you are experiencing wonky hormones and the unfortunate accompanying symptoms, you are likely dealing with estrogen dominance. It’s rampant. Why? Simply living in the world today is a major contributing factor. Luckily, there are plenty of strategies for combatting this pesky little nuisance. HOWEVER, before you start popping supplements, know that adequate rest, restorative exercise, and taking care of yourself are part of the answer.
Back to the causes of estrogen dominance. Let’s take a closer look:
- High Levels of Circulating Insulin. Blood sugar, again?? Yep. I wish it didn’t matter, but it really, really does. Excess insulin causes the peripheral muscle to the ovaries to start cranking out estrogen. A few of the lovely signs that you aren’t managing your blood sugar quite as well as you thought include energy dips in mid-afternoon, brain fog, sleepiness after meals, that hangry feeling, and/or sugar cravings after you have eaten.
- Excess Weight. The long and short of it is that increased body fat raises estrogen levels in the body.
- Gut Issues. A specific group of bacteria in your gut called the Estrobolome are responsible for breaking down and excreting estrogen from your body. When your gut health becomes compromised, it allows for estrogen to be reabsorbed into the bloodstream, rather than eliminated.
- Impaired Detox Pathways. Your liver is responsible for “deactivating” estrogen and when it becomes burdened with other tasks (say for instance detoxing alcohol), estrogen deactivation is tabled. This may explain why excess alcohol consumption is associated with increased estrogen levels.
- Uncontrolled Stress. This has more to do with low levels of progesterone then it does with higher levels of estrogen, BUT because the delicate balance of estrogen and progesterone is so pivotal to hormonal health, it matters. A lot.
- Environmental Triggers. Exposure to phthalates and BPA in personal care products and cleaning supplies, as well as exposure to hormones in conventional meat and dairy products can contribute to estrogen dominance. For some people, simply swapping out toxic products for something a little cleaner is enough to right hormonal wrongs. Though we could all be so lucky… but I digress. Back to the topic at hand!
Okay, but how do you know if estrogen dominance is your problem? Simple! Take a look at some of the signs:
- PMS type symptoms, including breast tenderness, migraines, bloating, acne, brain fog, and fatigue.
- Heavy periods with blood that is dark, heavy, clumpy, and has clots (ideally blood should look like cranberry juice with a maple syrup consistency).
- Cycles lasting more than 35 days
- Moodiness and/or depression
Now that we know what to look for and why it’s happening, the next step is tackling the problem. As you might imagine, the answer can be found in your particular root cause. For instance, if your stress levels are through the roof, managing your stress should be your first response. Lucky for you, I’ve already posted some of my favorite tips and tricks for addressing the above causes of estrogen dominance elsewhere in the journal. I’ll link to them and/or offer some fresh insights here:
- Balance Your Blood Sugar.
- Support Your Gut. This involves eliminating potential allergens and introducing gut-healing foods, like fiber, collagen, and probiotics. One of my favorite supplements for kick starting the process is Thorne Perma Clear. It’s pricey but covers all of your bases.
- Manage Your Stress.
- Give Your Detox Pathways Some Love. This is also where a supplement like DIM would come in handy.
- Reduce Exposure to Environmental Triggers.
I know this is a lot of information. Take your time to really figure out your root cause. Be wary of supplements claiming to solve all of your problems. Imagine that you are rowing down the river in a little boat and it starts to leak. You can bail out as much water as you want, but eventually you are going to need to plug the leak. Once you nail down the cause of your symptoms you can plug the leak instead of just playing Whack A Mole with symptoms. (Ignore the terrible mixed metaphor. Just go with it.)
If you aren’t sure if estrogen dominance is behind your hormonal acne or PMS or other symptoms, book a session. I’m here to help!!