Whether or not you’ve heard the term estrogen dominance, there’s a good chance you know someone who is dealing with this incredibly common hormone imbalance. Although they might not know it themselves!
Rates are at an all-time high thanks to the hundreds of chemicals we are exposed to every day. And it’s behind a lot of frustrating and uncomfortable symptoms that many women are told are “normal” and “just part of being a woman”.
So let’s look at the signs of estrogen dominance, what causes it, and 5 strategies to address it naturally.
9 Signs of Estrogen Dominance
Signs of estrogen dominance can include:
- Heavy or irregular periods
- Increased PMS symptoms, especially breast tenderness, insomnia, and anxiety
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Ovarian cysts
- Weight gain, particularly in the waist, hips, and thighs
- Low libido
- Hair loss
- Mood swings, anxiety, and depression
One of the most telltale signs of estrogen dominance I see in my clinic is in women who experience anxiety or depression around the time of their period and then are “back to normal” once their cycle restarts.
What is Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance occurs when your estrogen levels are too high relative to your other hormones, like progesterone in women and testosterone in men.
Estrogen is required for various aspects of your health from managing your cholesterol, to protecting bone health, and having a comfortable and healthy sex life.
However, when estrogen levels are too high, this can lead to the symptoms we just covered. It can also increase your risk for hormonal cancers including breast and uterine cancer, as well as thyroid dysfunction and autoimmune disease.
What Causes Estrogen Dominance?
The most common culprits behind estrogen dominance come from our environment.
These are chemicals that mimic estrogen and are found in a huge range of everyday items including personal care products, plastics, receipts, food storage containers, and the flame retardants used in furniture.
Toxins in Our Food & Water
Conventionally raised livestock are a major source of endocrine disruptors because they are injected with growth hormones to make them grow bigger and faster.
Pesticides and herbicides used on conventionally grown produce are also linked to hormone imbalances and can disrupt your natural hormone activity and metabolism.
These include mercury, lead, and cadmium, among others. They also mimic estrogen and are in everything from cosmetics, fillings, and vaccines, to our air and water.
When your body is stressed it uses progesterone to make cortisol, your primary stress hormone. This can lead to an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen.
5 Strategies to Combat Estrogen Dominance
1. Support Detoxification
This includes reducing your exposure to xenoestrogens and other toxins that disrupt hormones, as well as safely flushing them from your body. You want to make sure you’re peeing, pooping, and sweating, and getting the nutritional support your body needs to detoxify.
Always work with your functional medicine practitioner to ensure that your detox pathways, gut, and immune system are all functioning properly before you start treating toxic exposures so that your body is equipped to deal with the detoxification process.
2. Eat Organic as Much as Possible
Choosing organic meat, like beef, pork, and chicken will eliminate the growth hormones many people consume from livestock.
If going 100% organic isn’t feasible when it comes to produce, check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists from The Environmental Working Group. The Dirty Dozen list includes the 12 foods with the highest concentration of pesticides that you should prioritize buying organic. The Clean 15 list shows the foods that are safer to buy non-organic because they have lower levels of pesticides.
3. Clean Up Your Personal Care Products
Choose non-toxic products that do not list phthalates or fragrances as ingredients.
4. Avoid Plastics
Use glass or stainless steel containers as much as possible, particularly for food storage and water bottles, to minimize exposure to xenoestrogens.
5. Relieve Stress
Find the stress relief practices that work for you and make sure they’re a part of your daily routine. In my clinic, our health and lifestyle coach works with patients one-on-one to find sustainable stress relief strategies that work for you as we believe this plays a pivotal role in reclaiming your health.
You may also want to support a more balanced response to stress with Root Fix Adrenal Support. This supplement features a blend of adaptogens, including ashwagandha, ginseng, holy basil, and rhodiola to help your body adapt to physical and mental stressors.
If you’re struggling through terrible cycles or unexplained hormonal issues, I’d love to help you get to the bottom of them.
About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) Certified Practitioner.
He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.