5 Things You Didn't Know About Estrogen Dominance
Today we are going to cover what estrogen does, estrogen dominance, the signs and symptoms of having too much or too little estrogen, and things to discuss with your health care provider if you are concerned about this.
What exactly is Estrogen Dominance? Let’s start at the basics. Estrogen Dominance is a medical term used to describe situations in which your hormone, estrogen is way out of whack and your body is making too much of it. Estrogen can be created not only from your ovaries and uterus, but fat cells as well and plays a vital role in our female health. We should really think of estrogen as the Regina George of our reproductive and monthly cycle hormones. It is the queen bee — not only is it responsible for the building up of our endometrial lining (aka the stuff that fluffs up your uterus for a potential baby), telling our ovaries to produce an egg, helping to shed said endometrial lining; it also contributes to bone density health (too little estrogen can lead to osteoporosis), urinary tract health, as well as breast, skin, hair, mucous membranes, pelvic muscle, and brain health. It does a lot. And when it is out of whack, either by having a surplus of it or a scarcity, our bodies will feel it.
So what is Estrogen Dominance?
Before I went on my tangent of all the things estrogen plays a key role in, I started to tell you what estrogen dominance is. Like I mention before, it is an influx of the estrogen hormones in our bodies. This can become a problem because it can cause awful symptoms (we’ll get to this in a minute), lead to autoimmune disorders, and worst case scenario some cancers.
What can cause estrogen dominance?
Dr. Amy Myers states that one cause of an increase of estrogen in our bodies can be linked to the increase of exposure to xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are industrial chemicals that mimic the makeup of estrogen and cause issues within our bodies. These are unfortunately found in just about everything from the clothing we wear, the food we eat, the environmental carbon emission toxins, our makeup. These chemicals cause serious endocrine disturbance and awful side effects. Cutting back on the exposure to these chemicals has become one of the many steps that doctors and holistic health practitioners are taking to help balance out our hormones and control conditions like PCOs and other auto-immune disorders.
Another cause of estrogen dominance is our weight. I will never be one to tell a woman that they need to diet or lose weight, however because we know that estrogen is produced in fat cells, the more of these cells we have, the chance that their will be underlying health problems with our hormones and other bodily systems. AGAIN! I am not in any way promoting the dieting culture on this blog, I am not telling anyone that they should lose a few pounds, however we do know that being overweight and obese can be a contributing factor to this health concern.
Lastly, Hormonal Birth Control can lead to this issue. Hormonal birth control is made up of synthetic estrogen and progesterone to tell your body to not do its natural monthly cycle. This is wonderful is kiddos are not in your plan or if you have issues like endometriosis (which is caused by estrogen promoting the growth of endometrial tissue outside of your uterus), PCOs, or other baby making conditions. It can however signal your body to produce more estrogen, leading to some of the symptoms listed below.
Signs and Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
Weight gain in hips, waist, and thighs
Bleeding problems such as too light or too heavy periods
Fibrocystic Breast (lumps in your breast)
Uterine Fibroids (these can be painful as well as put you at risk for hemorrhage post delivery)
Loss of sex-drive
depression or anxiety
What Can You Do if You Think You May Have Estrogen Dominance?
There are a couple of things that can be done:
Obviously, you should consult with your health provider, preferably one that has worked in hormonal imbalances in the past to discuss concerns.
Explain what you are feeling. You are your own health expert— meaning you know what your baseline of normal is; if you are feeling that this is off, then it is worth discussing.
Give examples of these symptoms: explain that you have felt a lump in your breast, you are having painful periods, or that your period is nonexistent (aka amenorrhea) or too heavy, lasting too long (longer than 9 days and soaking through super tampons or pads).
There are tests that can be done to measure the amount of estrogen you have in your body; this can lead your provider to a recommendation of treatment like diet control, exercise, avoiding these toxins in our homes and water.
Diet control at home: eat more fiber as this promotes digestion and metabolism of estrogen, keeping your liver healthy (don’t worry, a post is coming up on this one), and taking care of your gut-biome with probiotics found in yogurt or supplements are all great places to start.
As a nurse, I can leave you with this. IT IS OK TO GET A SECOND OPINION. Say you took your car into a new mechanic and they wanted to charge you $!500 for new brakes, brake pads, and a filter system… you would want to see if this was reasonable first, right? Well this should be how you treat your health as well. Finding a doctor that is open to integrative methods of treatment will only help you and your family in the long run, so do not be afraid to ask for another opinion before landing on a treatment plan.
This information is intended to give you insights into health conditions that are not discussed often. Dr. Jolene Brighten is a wonderful resource as well as Alissa Vitti when it comes to this topic and all others pertaining to hormonal health. Remember, you are the only one experiencing your life, if it seems off or different from those around you, its worth asking about!
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