I had suffered for years from signs of estrogen dominance, not knowing what they were. For over a year I had terrible sleep issues, brain fog, mood swings, weight gain and low libido. I sometimes felt like I was going crazy. This could not be my life! During this time, I was stressed, exhausted and felt like life was like Groundhog Day (love Bill Murray). I felt like I had low drive to do anything but the essential busy work that I filled my calendar with. During this time, due to brain fog, I learned to take copious notes for every meeting I had otherwise I wouldn’t remember conversations I had the day before!
If you’ve felt the same, just know there is always an explanation. You are not crazy and you don’t have early onset alzheimer’s! Estrogen dominance may be to blame.
To better understand what the signs of estrogen dominance are, it’s helpful to understand what estrogen is.
Estrogen is a term used collectively to describe Estradiol, Estrone and Estriol. Three types of hormones, estradiol being the biggest player for those of us pre-menopausal women. Estrogen has many roles in the body, and while many of these roles relate to reproduction (modulating libido, preparing the female body for pregnancy, development of sperm), there are other important functions. Estrogens contribute to cognitive, bone, and cardiovascular health, as well as bodily processes like immune function and the aging process.
Signs of Estrogen Dominance
Have you had unexplained weight gain? Estrogen dominance can cause weight gain around the abdomen, hips, thighs and butt. These fat cells can then produce more estrogen. This can then trigger hypothyroidism, bloating and excess insulin release.
Estrogen dominance can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep by stimulating the nervous system. Excess estrogen can also cause the body to underproduce melatonin which is necessary for preparing your body to sleep.
Estrogen dominance can cause a lowering of sex drive for a number of reasons including, vaginal dryness, bloating, fatigue and mood swings. You can imagine that feeling any or all of those might affect your sex drive!
Estrogen dominance can sometimes cause ovulation to not occur. This is called an anovulatory cycle. The body needs estrogen as well as progesterone to complete a successful cycle. When an anovulatory cycle occurs, progesterone won’t increase as it should which also shows up as estrogen dominance.
When estrogen levels are out of balance with progesterone, you may begin to experience difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness. This can happen when estrogen levels are too low or too high.
Feeling depressed, anxious or having mood swings are all signs of estrogen dominance. If your doctor is unfamiliar with this effect of estrogen dominance, you may be mistakenly prescribed an antidepressant or anti-anxiety pharmaceutical.
For some women, estrogen dominance can lead to hair loss because of a gene variation that affects the functioning of an enzyme that processes estrogen. This type of hair loss is referred to as female pattern baldness which includes a recession of the hair line.
How to Reduce Estrogen Dominance
While it’s important to run functional medicine labs to better understand what your body is doing, if you suspect estrogen dominance there are several steps you can start taking today to get it back into balance.
Exercise helps to break down excess estradiol so your body has an easier time of getting rid of it. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight and building muscle helps promote healthy and balanced hormone production. While some amount of body fat is necessary for hormone balance, too much body fat can increase estrogen production.
Eating Plenty of Vegetables
Plant based foods help our bodies to break down excess hormones which helps create balance. Plant based foods high in fiber and indoles (found in cruciferous veggies) help support this. Broccoli sprouts are a great source of indoles and are easy to grow.
Detox Your Bath and Body Care
Estrogen disruptors are found in most common, big brand, bath and body products unfortunately. One of these categories, called xenoestrogens, are very common in fragrances, lotions, shampoos and more. To learn how to detox your bath and beauty routing take a look at this article.
There are two supplements that I love to recommend for clients who have tested positive for estrogen dominance. These are DIM and Calcium D-Glucarate. DIM is also found naturally in broccoli sprouts! However you can also find it in your local health market. Calcium D-Glucarate is a great option if you don’t tolerate DIM.
As always, I recommend functional medicine testing to confirm hormone imbalances before supplementation however exercising, eating plenty of vegetables and detoxing your bath and body products are good steps for nearly everyone to start taking in rebalancing hormones.
If you’re interested in functional medicine lab testing, just book a free chat with me to select the right lab for you.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute diagnosis or treatment of any disease.