Estrogen dominance is a hormonal imbalance that happens when we have too much estrogen in the body, either because we take too much in, produce too much of it, or have too little of the other sex hormones like progesterone to balance it out.
Estrogen dominance can affect a woman’s body & her fertility in many ways.
Let's break it down and see what you can do to prevent and remedy it.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance
Estrogen dominance symptoms include (but are not limited to):
Breast swelling & tenderness
Anxiety & mood swings
Loss of libido
Thickening of endometrial lining, clotted menses
Increased risk of uterine fibroids
Increased incidence of ovarian cysts
What causes estrogen imbalance?
Insulin & cortisol imbalance: These two hormones are involved with stress responses and blood sugar levels in the body. If they become imbalanced they can affect other hormones in the body, in particular the ovarian, thyroid, progesterone, testosterone and sleep hormones, disrupting how they work.
The Contraceptive Pill and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): The pill regulates your hormones by stopping ovulation. However, if you do not ovulate you do not produce progesterone, which can lead to higher levels of estrogen. HRT provides high levels of synthetic estrogen, which the body finds harder to get rid of than natural hormones.
Poor liver function: the liver detoxifies estrogen, which is then passed through the bowel. If our livers aren’t functioning properly and we are not eliminating the estrogen it can lead to a build-up.
Weight gain: our fat cells can produce estrogen. The more fat we pack on the body, the higher our estrogen levels.
Poor diet: the body requires B vitamins, Magnesium, Zinc, Omega’s and protein to effectively metabolise estrogen. If your diet is lacking in these vitamins and minerals, then estrogen levels will increase.
Exposure to Xenoestrogens
Xenoestrogens are chemicals that imitate estrogen & act on estrogen receptors. They are hidden everywhere in our food & water supplies.
Our water supply now contains synthetic estrogen because of the widespread use of birth control pills, that is not removable even after the water has been treated and recycled. But xenoestrogens can also be found in many products:
plastic water bottles (even the "BPA free" ones)
microwaving food in plastic containers leaks xeno-estrogens into our food
meat, because hormones are used to fatten up cattle
non organic veggies, from the use of pesticides
What to do to reduce estrogen dominance
Something to be aware if is that excess fat can increase the amount of estrogen in your system. Many people find that adopting a low fat, high fiber, a mostly vegetarian diet is helpful.
Avoid hormonally treated meat and dairy
Eat as much organic produce as you can
Avoid refined and hydrogenated oils
Get rid of your plastic containers & plastic bottles, non stick cookware
Read more on the effects of BPAs here .
Help your liver detox & flush out estrogens
One of your liver’s many jobs is to break down estrogens. It has a much harder time doing this if it is detoxifying all the other substances that it is expected to tackle on a daily basis.
Avoid alcohol & coffee
Stimulate the liver by using lemon juice and consuming bitter foods such as dandelion greens, endive, and radicchio.
You can take liver-supporting herbs including dandelion root, milk thistle, burdock, artichoke, and turmeric.
Eat cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts. They contain diindolylmethane (DIM) which supports enzymes that improve estrogen metabolism.
B vitamins also aid the liver and are recommended. They can be added in the form of whole foods (such as lentils, rice bran, and blackstrap molasses) or supplements.
Vitamin B6, in particular, enhances the breakdown and removal of estrogen from the body.
Flaxseed oil improves liver function and although it contains phytoestrogens does not seem to cause the same problems as processed soy products.