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What is estrogen dominance?

Updated: Jan 14, 2022

Estrogen dominance is one of the most common hormonal imbalances women (and even men) experience today...

It’s actually so common, that the symptoms related to estrogen dominance like PMS, having a muffin top, cravings & binge eating, migraines, being menopausal and having fibroids is pretty normal. I want to show you that it is not and there is a way to fix it.

There’s different scenarios to estrogen dominance

  1. you can simply have too much estrogen - your levels are above normal

  2. you can have too little progesterone, meaning that your progesterone:estrogen ratio is off. You have too little progesterone to balance your estrogen levels. This is called "relative estrogen dominance". You might even have too little estrogen too in this scenario, but if your progesterone is even lower, you would still suffer from symptoms of estrogen dominance.

  3. you have detoxification issues: estrogens are excreted out of our body via different pathways and if you are overusing a specific pathway that’s unfavorable, that will have an impact on your estrogen receptors and can again cause symptoms of estrogen dominance.

How do you know if you have estrogen dominance?

You can take my hormone quiz to see if this may apply to you here.

Other ways to find out if you have estrogen dominance (or too little progesterone), is by doing a SALIVA or URINE based hormone panel like a cycling female saliva panel or the DUTCH test. You can contact me for both or work with another trained functional practitioner.

It's important to use saliva or urine samples to get the available free form of hormones, as the hormones circulating in our blood are protein-bound. If you don't do a full cycle panel, it's crucial as well to pick the right day in your cycle to take your test.

In case you are wondering what are estrogen and progesterone?

Estrogen is one of our primary female sex hormones along with progesterone. It’s the predominant ovarian hormone in this first half of the cycle. It plays a critical role in our hormonal- and overall health.

Although it is considered the "female" hormone, it also plays a more and more important role in men's lives and you're guessing right, that's not a good thing! All these "male" foods like pizza, beer and burgers actually promote estrogen excess. Through the high carb intake, the body will accumulate more adipose tissue (or fat cells and then produce more estrogen in these fat cells. This leads to the beer belly or muffin top.

You may not be aware that there is more than one type of estrogen, but 3 main types of estrogen:

  • Estrone, or E1, is the primary form of estrogen after menopause. It’s mainly produced in fat cells

  • Estradiol, or E2, is the primary form of estrogen for cycling women.

  • Estriol, or E3, is dominant during pregnancy and is responsible for vaginal tissue health and urinary control.

Having a healthy ratio of these three forms of estrogens is critical for your health. In a healthy body, you should have about 90% estriol, 7 % estradiol, and 3% estrone.

If you have estrogen dominance, you may have several of the following symptoms:

  • Premenstrual symptoms (PMS)

  • Endometriosis

  • Menstrual cramps

  • Migraines or headaches

  • Infertility

  • Fatigue

  • Hot flashes

  • Decreased libido

  • Depression

  • Heavy menstrual flow

  • Uterine fibroids

  • Fibrocystic breasts

  • Thyroid issues

  • Breast, uterine, ovarian, prostate, or colon cancer

Progesterone is the dominant hormone in the second phase of your cycle, the luteal phase. It is needed in sufficient amounts to balance the effects of estrogen. It reaches its highest levels during the luteal phase, preparing the uterus for possible implantation. Progesterone also prepares the breasts for lactation by stimulating the formation of milk glands. Adequate progesterone is essential to maintain a healthy uterine lining and sustain a pregnancy. Progesterone is also a natural anti- depressant, muscle relaxant, and diuretic. I often see anxiety linked to low levels of progesterone.

How do you become estrogen dominant?

There's several factors that can influence your estrogen levels:

  • Eating a high carb diet, especially high in processed carbohydrates like baked goods, white-flour products etc.

  • Digestive issues that have an impact on the estrogen detoxification process in the liver and overproduce cortisol which blocks progesterone receptors

  • High histamine: estrogen will cause the release of histamine from the mast cells present in the reproductive organs of both men and women. The more estrogen you have, the more histamine will be released into the bloodstream

  • Poor liver function, as the liver is responsible for eliminating used up estrogens

  • Chronic stress

  • Being exposed to pesticides, fertilizers, growth hormones and antibiotics through food. They have a huge impact on your hormone balance.

  • Exposure to xenoestrogens – a number of chemical compounds (like phthalates, BPA, SLS, and many others) found in consumer products such as detergents and skincare products.

  • Use of synthetic estrogens such as the birth control pill and hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

  • Lifestyle choices such as drugs (prescription and recreational), smoking, and alcohol

  • Genetics

People tend to think women’s “hormone problems” start in mid-life with menopause. In reality, with our busy lives being constantly in "go go" mode, no time to cook, stress, xenobiotic exposure, increased alcohol consumption and oral contraception, there are so many hormone disruptors daily impacting our body that a dysfunction actually begins during our teen years. The severity of hormonal imbalance is what increases with age, but it is not because you are getting older that you are experiencing hormonal imbalance.

For women, of course, there's also the time leading up to menopause when her hormone levels naturally decline: Both estrogen and progesterone decline in all women with age (peri menopause anytime between age 35 to 50): progesterone drops about 75%, while estrogen only decreases by about 35%. This is why so many women are struggling with migraines, PMS, fibroids, cancer in peri menopause, because estrogen is automatically going to be higher than progesterone. Low progesterone also affects the quality of sleep that many women are struggling with during these years.

What can you do to reverse estrogen dominance?

  1. Test first to confirm your hormone levels. You can get this tested with me or with your doctor (be sure to get urine or saliva, not blood testing) or you can start by taking the hormone quiz.

  2. Do a detox to flush out excess hormones

  3. Eat organic to avoid pesticides, fertilizers, growth hormone and antibiotics in your food

  4. Heal your gut: make sure you are evacuating every day and have a balanced microbiome. If you are experiencing constipation, gas, bloating, diarrhea, acid reflux, burping, and frequent stomach aches, your digestive health needs some work! When distressed, your digestive tract will provoke the adrenals to release our stress hormone cortisol. And cortisol will block the production of progesterone. That's why any form of stress (emotional, physical, digestive, etc.) can lead to estrogen dominance. But that's not all: we also know now that there is a subset of our gut bacteria that helps metabolize estrogen, called the estrobolome. If you don't have enough of these guys, they might be responsible for your estrogen dominance. Contact me for help or work with a skilled practitioner to fix your digestive issues.

  5. Give your liver some love: it is responsible for evacuating the used up estrogens

  6. Avoid xenoestrogens - they have chemical structures similar to estrogen and act like estrogen in our body. They are found in products such as creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes, hair sprays, and room deodorizers. But also in: car exhaust, petrochemically derived pesticides, herbicides, fungicides; solvents and adhesives from nail polish; paint removers, and glues; dry-cleaning chemicals; practically all plastics; industrial waste such as PCBs and dioxins, and synthetic estrogens from urine of women taking HRT and birth control pills that are flushed down the toilet and eventually find their way back into our drinking water and food.


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