You know the saying “Too much of a good thing”? It can apply to so many things - chocolate
springs quickly to my mind. There are many things in life that can help us in small doses, but in
too large of doses, that good thing can become bad.
Estrogen is one of those good things - we need it, it helps us, but in huge amounts, it can
become a bad thing.
Why Do We Need Estrogen?
Estrogen is a hormone that shows up in both women and men. We commonly think of it as the
female sex hormone, and it does play a huge role in sexual development and fertility, but it does
so much more than that - healthy estrogen levels help you with bone strength, healthy heart and
blood vessels, and even brain activity!
In women, estrogen is produced by the ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat tissue. The levels of
estrogen in a woman’s body vary over time, depending on the body’s needs - levels increase
substantially during puberty, fluctuate as needed when a woman gets pregnant, and ultimately
decrease during menopause.
What Is Estrogen Dominance, and Why Does It Happen?
Technically, estrogen dominance isn’t just high amounts of estrogen - it’s your estrogen level
compared to your progesterone levels. Progesterone is another sex hormone, which is crucial
for the buildup of the lining in your uterus in-between your menstrual cycles (among other
When your estrogen-to-progesterone ratio becomes unbalanced, the high amount of estrogen
can interfere with the way progesterone works in your body. It also interferes with other
hormones in your body, which can lead to other health complications.
So, why does estrogen dominance happen in the body?
Well, like a lot of other health problems that seem to be cropping up more in modern Western
societies, it has a lot to do with our lifestyle and diet. Some of the primary causes include:
● Too much body fat
● Sedentary lifestyle
● Lack of good dietary fiber and omega-3s
● Past use of hormonal birth control or acne medications
● Environmental and household toxins
● Poor digestion or an imbalanced stomach microbiome
● Poor liver function
Any one or a combination of these can lead to estrogen dominance in the body.
What Are The Signs of Estrogen Dominance?
The signs of estrogen dominance can vary quite a bit - your symptoms may be severe or barely
noticeable. It might reveal itself through one symptom, or ten, or none at all. Some of the more
common signs of estrogen dominance are:
● Bloating and weight gain
● Irregular periods
● Mood swings and anxiety
● Poor sleep or fatigue
● Severe PMS symptoms
● Heavy or irregular periods
● Hair loss (particularly along the front of the scalp)
● Memory issues
Because so many different conditions can cause these symptoms, you cannot diagnose
estrogen dominance by symptoms alone - you need to have the right kind of hormone testing
done to determine what may be affecting you.
What Are The Long-Term Dangers of Estrogen Dominance?
So often, women try to just live with symptoms of estrogen dominance - take a painkiller, try to
get more sleep, and just push through the day... every day. It can be tempting for some,
especially those who have brought their concerns to their doctor in the past, only to have them
dismissed as just a normal sign of aging or just your body’s way of expressing PMS.
But it would be a mistake not to dig deeper, because estrogen dominance can have some
serious long-term effects on the body, including an increased risk for breast cancer, ovarian
cancer, blood clots and stroke, and hypothyroidism.
What Can I Do About Estrogen Dominance?
First things first - get tested! It’s an easy thing to get tested for, and once you are diagnosed you
can move on to helping your body get back in balance.
Once you’ve been diagnosed, there are some steps you can take to reduce estrogen dominance.
● Exercise regularly: Exercise will help your body metabolize the excess estrogen, and
reducing fat will reduce the amount of tissue where estrogen can be stored.
● Eat better: A higher-fiber diet that includes more crunchy veggies, fruits and seeds helps
the body significantly with hormone metabolism.
○ More: wild-caught salmon, flax seeds, ginger, turmeric, cabbage, broccoli,
cauliflower, brussel sprouts, whole grains, and probiotics.
○ Less: Sugar, simple starches (white bread, pasta), alcohol, and hormone-fed
meat and dairy products.
● Reduce stress: See my blog post about stress for some great ideas
about how to reduce chronic stress and lower its impact on the body and mind.
● Avoid toxins: Our homes and offices are FILLED with hidden toxins that can wreak
havoc on our body. For estrogen dominance, watch out for:
○ PCBs - found in bottom-feeding fish like catfish and carp. Also, avoid exposure to
fluorescent lights contents, old paints, wood finishes, and electrical systems.
○ BPA - found in plastics, canned food, and some food and beverage containers.
○ Phthalates - found in some personal care products, toys, detergents, and high-fat
processed and fast foods.
Need More Help?
If you’re not sure where to start, or if you’re wondering if you might be struggling with estrogen
dominance, let us know! We can suggest the types of testing you’ll need, and help customize a health plan just for you that can lead to a healthier, more balanced life.
You don’t have to face the unknown alone - let Illuminate Wellness help you thrive!