- What is Estrogen? - (http://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/womens-health/what-is-estrogen)
- Hormone Balance: The Key to Breast Cancer Prevention - (https://womeninbalance.org/seventh-woman/hormone-balance/)
What is Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance is a condition with relatively high levels of estrogen and diminished progesterone levels. It is a common hormonal imbalance. Estrogen dominance is due to multiple factors like stressful lifestyle, environmental factors and genetic predisposition.
Estrogen is a female sex hormone. Estrogen is primarily produced by the ovaries and also by the adrenal glands and fat tissue. Estrogen causes physical changes in a girl during puberty; it maintains the menstrual cycle, bone health, heart health, cholesterol levels and also plays a crucial role in the fertility.
The balanced function of estrogen and progesterone (a sex hormone) is essential for a normal menstrual cycle.
The causes of the estrogen dominance are:
- Xenoestrogens: The external source of estrogen is called xenoestrogens. Exposure to pesticides, car exhaust, carpets, industrial wastes, soaps, furniture, plastics and consuming hormone-treated meat can cause an increase in the estrogen levels.
- Use of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy: Consuming synthetic estrogens will increase the levels of estrogen.
- Stress: Production of adrenaline, cortisol and cortisone by the adrenal glands can result in stress. Excess stress can lead to the constant production of these hormones and cause adrenal fatigue. This leads to decrease in the progesterone from the adrenal gland and causes the estrogen dominance.
- Anovulation (absence of ovulation in the menstrual cycle): Progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum in the ovaries (the corpus luteum forms in the ovary after the ova is released from the ovarian follicle). The absence of ovulation leads to a decrease in the progesterone levels.
- Poor diet and digestion issues: Digestion issues can disturb the detoxification of estrogen by the liver.
- Emotional issues
Estrogen dominance can cause the following:
- Decreased libido
- Mood swings
- Increased premenstrual symptoms
- Fibroids or benign tumors in the uterus (uterine fibroids), which are mainly formed by muscle cells
- Growth of endometrial (inner uterine lining) tissue outside the uterus called endometriosis
- Menstrual irregularities
- A benign condition with painful lumps in the breasts called fibrocystic breasts
- Fat deposition around the abdomen and thighs
- Increases the risk of breast, uterine, ovarian cancers and cervical dysplasia (precancerous condition of the cervix)
- Menopausal symptoms
The main goal while diagnosing estrogen dominance is to find the cause of estrogen dominance. A detailed history regarding the lifestyle, medications and supplements and a thorough physical examination play an important role in the diagnosis. Testing the levels of estrogen and progesterone confirms the imbalance.
- Natural progesterone: Natural progesterone counteracts the effects of estrogen. Progesterone in the form of natural cream can be useful. The dose of the progesterone should be properly assessed for treatment because excess of it is also a problem.
- Diet: The plant-based diet rich in fiber and low-fat helps to decrease the estrogen dominance. Plant-based foods such as soy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts have progesterone and hormone balancing effects but they also have high levels of phytoestrogens. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, drugs and smoking.
- Exercise: Fat cells can produce estrogen. Studies have shown that exercise decreases the breast cancer risk by decreasing levels of estrogen production by fat cells.
- Stress Reduction: Regular practice of yoga and meditation helps to reduce stress.
- Decreasing the xenoestrogen exposure: The exposure to xenoestrogens must be minimized by everyone. To prevent the exposure to xenoestrogens, use organic cosmetics, avoid pesticides, eat organic foods and avoid microwaving in plastic containers.
- Supplements: Fish oil, vitamins and minerals can balance estrogen.
The following measures can prevent the high levels of estrogen in the body.