Estrogen Dominance: Signs you have it + How to lower it
The two words tend to elicit a bit of discomfort on their own.
and then BAM we throw them together, “ESTROGEN DOMINANCE” and it’s just all the more threatening.
For many, estrogen dominance is generally understood as simply having too much of the sex hormone estrogen. For men, it’s feared because estrogen is often thought of as a ‘female hormone” and too much can effect sexual function and stamina.
For women, we might start feeling concerned about our breast health, the stubborn weight gain and the uncomfortable monthly symptoms that can be brought about when we have too much (or too little) of this hormone. It has a bad rep.
It’s important to know that estrogen dominance is excess estrogen RELATIVE to other sex hormones (like progesterone for women or testosterone for men) and that in general estrogen isn’t a bad thing. It’s a necessary hormone with many important functions that are important to fertility, healthy bones, blood sugar balance, cholesterol metabolism and more!
What causes estrogen dominance?
Digestive weakness and slow motility
slow digestion means that estrogens the body has processed and prepared for elimination via the bowels can be reabsorbed and re-circulated
Estrogen IN and ON the foods we eat
This can feel really frustrating because it feels like there is no winning as these days, both plants and animals can negatively effect our estrogen levels.
Much of conventional meat is loaded up with hormones that we then consume and has a direct influence on our own hormone levels, especially if you are paleo or keto and eating a lot of meat throughout the day.
Large-scale farming uses pesticides that contain endocrine disruptors and glyphosate found in Monsanto’s Round Up has been shown to increase the rate human breast cancer cells grow in vitro.
Opting for organic and mindfully farmed meats and plants as best we can is important, especially when it comes to meat and the DIRTY DOZEN when it comes to fruits and veggies.
Estrogen and hormonal disrupting chemicals in our water
The Environmental Working Group gathered data from state agencies and the Environmental Protection Agency for drinking water tests conducted from 2010 to 2015 by 48,712 water utilities in all 50 states. The utilities tested for 500 different contaminants and found 267.” According to the findings, this is what they found:
93 are linked to an increased risk of cancer.
78 are associated with brain and nervous system damage.
63 are connected to developmental harm to children or fetuses.
38 may cause fertility problems.
45 are linked to hormonal disruption.
Xenoestrogens in personal care products
Xenoetrogens MIMIC estrogens and can effect hormone levels in the body.
Here are some sources of xenoestrogens we should watch out for:
a chemical ultraviolet light absorber used in things like sunscreens and hair sprays.
an antibacterial agent used in things like toothpaste, soaps, detergents, toys, and surgical cleaning treatments
used as a preservative and found in many skin creams, lotions and hair conditioners
mainly used as plasticizers, i.e., substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity, but also used in topical cosmetics.
The Birth Control Pill
Rampant prescriptions of the hormonal birth control pill can exacerbate hormonal imbalance
The pill is high in synthetic estrogens and progesterones which adds to the estrogen load on our our body and at the same time, reduces our own ability to naturally produce progesterone because the pill provides a synthetic dose of it instead. Remember, estrogen dominance and the symptoms will depend on progesterone levels too.
The catch 22 is that many women go to the doctor complaining of irregular periods, PMS and menstrual trouble that is often caused by estrogen dominance issues in the first place— and then the pill is prescribed to synthetically balance things which wreaks havoc on having a healthy hormonal balance naturally and causes a lot of frustration down the road when women choose to stop taking the pill.
It can feel daunting because when it comes to estrogen influencers in our environment, we are seemingly surrounded. I recommend making healthy swaps where and when you can, especially if you are showing signs of estrogen dominance (see list below).
Here are some of the signs you may have excess estrogen:
low libido or decreased sex drive
weight gain especially in the midsection, hips or thighs
note: high body fat often means increased estrogen production
PMS (painful cramping, mood swings, insomnia)
heavy or irregular periods
oily skin and hair
migraines/ hormonal headaches
MEN: gynecomastia (aka man boobs)
MEN: sexual dysfunction and/or fertility issues
ways to help you get rid of excess estrogen + maintain healthy hormonal balance
Reduce stress — a body under chronic stress will steal the precursor of testosterone and progesterone to make more stress hormones. What can you do to feel more at ease, less rushed, less anxious, etc. Make time for joy and self-care and make it a priority.
Clean up your cosmetics and household cleaning products — you can do a big overhaul or simply make better choices as you replace products next time around.
Use glass instead of plastic to store your food
Buy organic when you can, especially for the dirty dozen and any dairy products
Choose grass-fed, hormone-free meats whenever you can
Limit your consumption of refined wheat and grains
Support your liver daily by eating fat in moderation, avoiding over eating, managing your blood sugar and enjoying a variety of fresh leafy greens, colourful veggies and organic fruits on the regular
Increase your daily fiber intake and ensure things are moving digestively very regularly (at least once a a day!)
Have a glass of warm lemon water upon rising
Support your gut health and micro flora balance daily by eating balanced meals and incorporating a probiotic supplement or fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha or coconut kefir.
Eat some sort of cruciferous veggie with at least one meal a day
Spend sometime sweating in an infared sauna
Practice good sleep hygiene and get a good 7 hours of sleep in a night
Estrogens in our environment are prevalent and can feel threatening when we look at the implications and risk they impose on our health. I recommend and picking a few of the habits listed above that feel the easiest to you and implementing them right away.
The cumulative effect of estrogens from all the different sources above is a big part of the problem and a big part of the solution is shining awareness onto this issue. From here on out, it’s about creating healthy habits that help combat regular exposure to environmental estrogens and endocrine disruptors WHILE simultaneously supporting healthy progesterone and testosterone levels— we do this by managing stress and making sure we are taking good care of our emotional health.
You’ve got this, friend! (and if you need more support, let me know!)