Words You Don’t Hear At Your Doctor’s Office: Estrogen Dominance
Words You Don’t Hear in Your Doctors Office: Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen Dominance, although sounds like it could be part of a fun feminist movement, is actually something you don’t want. Estrogen dominance refers to a menstrual cycle where there is too much estrogen. Unlike a healthy period, where estrogen builds in the first phase and drops off in the second, only to allow progesterone to take over until your bleed, an estrogen dominant cycle occurs when there is too much estrogen throughout both phases and/or when there is normal estrogen but low progesterone in the second phase. What your body really cares about is the ratio between the two hormones in each phase of your cycle. Lara Briden, a naturopathic doctor and period goddess, suggests to use terms like estrogen excess and progesterone deficiency to more accurately describe your period. Regardless, any of the terms listed above aren’t used in your conventional doctors office but should be!
Why do you care?
Estrogen dominance likely explains your most annoying menstrual symptoms. The most common women’s health conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Endometriosis, and Fibroids all have a component of estrogen dominance. Outside of those diagnoses the following symptoms are associated with this hormonal imbalance:
Migraine Headaches mid-cycle or pre-bleed
My Doctor Said My Hormone Levels Were Normal
You recognize some of the symptoms listed above, but your blood work came back normal, now what? Medical doctors measure hormones in the blood in isolation. Typically, Day 3 (of your cycle) Estradiol and Day 21 (of your cycle) Progesterone is measured and compared to a reference range. Testing hormones in this way isn’t inaccurate but it is limited. Blood Serum hormone levels only measure what is floating in your blood and not what it is actually happening in your body and does not account for hormone detoxification. Additionally, there are many forms of estrogen outside of estradiol (E2) which are missed when only measuring E2.
The Gold Standard for hormone investigation is a Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones (DUTCH), something I use frequently in practice. This test provides so much more information about what your hormones are actually doing, how they break down, and how they compare with one another. I’ll be doing an Instagram Live on DUTCH testing this week so watch out for that.
Reasons for Developing Estrogen Dominance
You may be more susceptible to Estrogen Dominance if:
It’s in your Genes – Your genetic make up influences things like estrogen production and detoxification. Genetically, estrogen dominant females have ovaries that produce more estrogen than the average or have impaired/slow detoxification systems.
Irregular Ovulation – No ovulation = no progesterone to oppose estrogen in the second phase of your cycle
High Exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC) – Chemicals in our environment that act like super powerful estrogen when in your body.
Excess Body Fat – Body fat produces extra estrogen.
Sluggish Elimination – Estrogen is eliminated through the digestive system and if moving slowly, like in those with constipation, old estrogen gets reabsorbed causing imbalances.
Say Bye Bye to Excess Estrogen
Here are 3 easy tips to start implementing to rebalance your hormone levels:
1. Hormone Detoxification – Get rid of the unwanted hormone.
a) Support Liver – Yes, your body does detoxify through the liver daily and there are things you can do to support this. The liver requires specific vitamins and nutrients for the enzymes it uses to break down toxins. Ones you want to pay attention to are protein, B6, B12, zinc, selenium, and magnesium. Eating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and leafy greens.
b) 1 Bowel Movement per day – To achieve this make sure to have adequate water intake, adequate fibre intake, proper gut bacteria, and magnesium supplementation.
2. Cut Out EDC –
Removing EDC’s take away toxic burden. Ways to do this include removing plastics, switching cleaning products and hygiene products, and avoiding pesticides.
3. Supplements and Herbal Support –
The goal when using these products is to help speed recovery and support a burdened body. Prescriptions to consider in estrogen dominance are herbs like vitex, black cohosh, milk thistle, and vitamins like magnesium and B6. Recommendations change depending on dominating symptoms.
Honourable Mention – In some cases, bio-identical progesterone will be recommended to manage progesterone deficiency. This might be more ideal for those over 35 since at this point you are only ovulating half the time in half of your cycles.
As you can see correctly identifying your hormonal imbalance is the key to treatment and relief of your annoying menstrual symptoms - all naturally.
I love providing women with the health they need to succeed. If you’re periods have been holding you back every month, let me give you that time back. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info!