Do you have high estrogen? Estrogen dominance has been getting a lot of attention in the wellness world these days, and if you’re wondering if your hormone-related issues have to do with an abundance of estrogen, you’re not alone.
In this article, we’re going to look at what estrogen dominance means, what is actually going on in our body, and why it’s essential to identify and understand. Then, I’ll share some ways you can address estrogen-related issues to protect and prevent yourself from the risk of excess estrogen.
What is Estrogen?
Estrogen is the Queen Bee or leading lady of hormones. She’s known for shaping our monthly hormonal cycle, but there’s a lot more to her and what she does for our well-being as women, including:
- Stimulates cell growth
- Controls cholesterol levels
- Helps produce neurotransmitters like serotonin (happy chemical)
- Helps produce melatonin, our sleep hormone
- Regulates stress response
- Maintains skin and hair health
- Maintains bone health
- Influences the development of the female body shape and physical female characteristics
- Prepares uterus for pregnancy
- Maintains healthy blood sugar levels
- Supports vaginal and urinary tract health
- Supports cognitive health and memory
- Controls inflammation
Too-low and too-high estrogen levels have been linked to breast tenderness, common PMS symptoms, migraines, and hot flashes, but also more serious issues like endometriosis, uterine and breast cancers, and uterine fibroids.
It’s normal for hormone levels to fluctuate throughout our menstrual cycle. We can notice these fluctuations through breast tenderness or mood changes before our period begins. Higher than normal levels of estrogen, though, can make these symptoms more intense and even unbearable. When this happens, you may be experiencing estrogen dominance. Here are some symptoms/conditions that you may be experiencing:
- Short menstrual cycles (less than 21 days)
- Cyclic breast tenderness, breast cysts, breast fullness
- Water retention
- Mood swings
- Depression anxiety
- Heavy periods
- Uterine fibroids
- Hormonal migraines and headaches as estrogen drops
- Irregular vaginal bleeding
- Cervical dysplasia
- Weight loss or weight gain resistance
If estrogen levels remain too high for too long, you can be at risk for issues including
- Hypothyroidism: if your estrogen levels are too high, you can experience a decrease in the amount of thyroid hormone circulating in your body
- Endometrial Hyperplasia: high estrogen levels can lead to an overgrowth of the uterine lining, referred to as endometrial hyperplasia, which can lead to abnormal uterine bleeding
- Breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers: research shows that unhealthy swings in estrogen levels are linked to certain cancers, including the ones listed above
- Endometriosis: high levels of estrogen can trigger endometrial lesion growth that can cause or worsen your endometriosis
- Heart disease, stroke, clotting problems: heightened levels of and changes in estrogen levels have been linked to cardiovascular diseases
What is Causing High Estrogen Levels?
Poor Gut Health
Slow gut elimination of estrogen and gut microbiome dysbiosis could be causing high estrogen levels. One of the primary regulators of circulating estrogen is, believe it or not, our gut. Estrogen is produced in your ovaries and then circulates in your bloodstream to go throughout your body. It then makes its way to the liver where it is broken down for elimination through the GI tract. Our gut has an important job of regulating estrogen levels for excretion. If our gut health is impaired, we can have a hard time regulating and eliminating excess estrogen.
Estrogen-mimicking hormones from Food and Environment
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) found in conventional foods, cosmetics, and other environments are one of the biggest contributors to high estrogen levels. These hormone-mimickers are so easily absorbed by our body where there are found at much higher concentrations in our tissues than our own hormones! Talk about overstimulation. This means that these EDCs block and disrupt our normal hormonal processes, including metabolization and excretion of hormones. To learn more about xenoestrogens, go here.
Carrying significantly extra weight increases the likelihood of producing more estrogen because we also create estrogen in our adipose tissue. More adipose tissues = more estrogen production. We also store environmental toxins that act as endocrine disruptors or mimic estrogen in our adipose tissue. Studies show that if you are significantly obese or overweight, losing some weight can help reduce estrogen levels. One study that looked at overweight and obese women found that losing an average of about 16 pounds warranted a 13.4% decrease in average concentrations of free estradiol (a form of estrogen).
Estrogen-containing pharmaceuticals like the pill and hormone replacement therapy increase our exposure to estrogens and estrogen-like chemicals. The pill interferes with our body’s natural hormonal communication channels and products—queueing our body’s daily dose of excess estrogen it has to deal with.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), often used for perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms, also increases estrogen levels—especially when used for a long period of time.
Low Fiber Diet
Fiber is crucial for happy bowel movements, which, as we learned, helps remove estrogen from the body. Research has even shown that a high fiber diet decreases the risk of estrogen-positive breast cancer! Our bodies are designed to consume 100 grams of fiber per day, up your fiber to down your estrogen.
How to Restore Healthy Estrogen Levels
Eating for healthy estrogen levels can be simple. Focus on consuming fiber- and phytonutrient-rich foods, which can help eliminate excess estrogen and keep your gut happy and healthy.
- Greens and Brassicaceae veggies like broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts
- Add more bitters like dandelion greens, endive, radicchio, and arugula
- Fiber and flaxseeds
Reduce consumption of alcohol, caffeine, dairy, and red meat. Learn more about foods that affect your estrogen levels here.
Reduce Xenoestrogen Burden
The first and arguably most important step to improving your estrogen levels is reducing your exposure to xenoestrogens. These are found in conventional cosmetics, cleaning products, food containers, and foods.
- Ditch your conventional chemical-laden cosmetics and body products with all-natural alternatives
- Switch from plastic to glass food storage containers
- Eat organic and hormone-free foods (reduce consumption of red meat)
- Wash hands well after touching paper receipts which are coated with BPA
- When buying cans, make sure they say BPA, BPS free
Now that you have all of our favorite tips and tricks for improving your estrogen levels, which are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments below, along with any other questions you may have.