By Dr. Karen Bender
What is Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance is a condition in which there is too much estrogen in the body. It results from a combination of factors that lead to an imbalance between its production, breakdown, and elimination.
Obesity can contribute to excess production of estrogen because fat cells are an additional source of estrogen production. Factors like inadequate nutrition that is deficient in vitamins and minerals needed for estrogen metabolism can lead to impaired breakdown of estrogen. Liver function also plays a key role in the metabolism of estrogen. When liver function is compromised by things like excessive alcohol consumption or fatty liver disease, its ability to detoxify from excessive estrogen can be affected. Adding to the build up of estrogen can be things like constipation and dysbiosis of gut bacteria. These both impact the elimination of estrogen from the body.
Environmental exposure to things like plastics, parabens found in many cosmetics, and artificial fragrances can also contribute to the effect of estrogen in the body by mimicking estrogen and stimulating estrogen receptors. These environmental chemicals are called endocrine disruptors because they disrupt the normal functioning of estrogen in the body.
Finally, imbalances of other hormones in the body can also contribute to estrogen dominance. Low thyroid function as well as insulin resistance can be partly responsible for estrogen imbalances.
How do I know if I have it?
There is a wide range of symptoms that can be related to or caused by estrogen imbalance.
Reproductive Health Symptoms:
- Decreased libido/sex drive
- Breast tenderness or breast fullness
- Problems with fertility
- Changes to your menstrual cycle
Digestive System Symptoms:
- Weight gain (especially in the hips/thigh/butt region)
- Changes to your bowel movements
- Reduced energy or fatigue
- Changes to your mood
- Change in sleep quality
- Hair loss, brittle or thinning
- Water retention especially in the hands/feet and face
- Other hormone imbalances such as low testosterone and thyroid disease
The best way to know if you have an estrogen imbalance is through testing. The DUTCH test(Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones) is the test I recommend to evaluate hormone imbalances because it is the most comprehensive. Instead of reporting estrogen as a single number as with serum testing, it breaks down estrogen into three estrogen metabolites, 2-OH estrone, 4-OH estrone, and 16-OH estrone. This is important to know because if 4-OH estrone levels are too high it can damage DNA and lead to an increased risk of certain cancers. Knowing this information helps me to make recommendations that will encourage the metabolism of estrogen toward the more favorable 2-OH estrone metabolite.
The DUTCH test also measures melatonin, progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol levels throughout the day. Having a comprehensive look at all these hormones allows me to better understand how they are affecting one another and how to bring them back into balance.
In addition, the DUTCH test measures a selection of organic acids. These chemical compounds are products of metabolism and serve as markers for vitamin and mineral levels, oxidative stress, and neurotransmitter levels. They can also aide in the evaluation of intestinal yeast and bacteria balance.
How to Balance Estrogen Naturally
After a comprehensive health assessment is completed and you know that estrogen dominance is at the root of the symptoms you are experiencing, there are a variety of natural interventions to help bring estrogen back into balance.
- Eat a whole food, mostly organic diet.
- Exercise regularly
- Limiting alcohol and caffeine intake
- Eating fermented foods daily
- Support detoxification and elimination: for example use a sauna for therapeutic sweating
- Limit Xenoestrogen and Endocrine Disruptor exposure
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Manage Stress : Red Light Therapy, Biofeedback, meditation
- Get high quality and adequate sleep
To Support Healthy Metabolism of Estrogen
- Methylation support: magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, methylated folate ect.
- DIM or I3C: help reduce more potent estrogen metabolites
- Sulforaphane: protect DNA against harmful effects of the estrogen metabolite, 4-OH estrone
- Eat phytoestrogens like soy and red clover tea: to modulate the action of estrogen in the body on a cellular level
Promote Progesterone as counterbalance to Estrogen
- Bioidentical progesterone: to bring the estrogen/progesterone ratio back into balance
- GLA: helps increase progesterone
- Vitex/Chaste berry: an herb that helps increase progesterone production
Support detoxification and elimination of excess estrogen
- Calcium-D-glucarate: to assist in elimination of excess estrogens from colon
- 5R protocol to establish a healthy gut microbiome that is critical for estrogen elimination
- Liver detoxification support: first phase of detoxification of estrogen occurs in the liver
Ready to Get Answers?
If you suspect that estrogen dominance is preventing you from feeling your best, call Whole Health Wellness Center today and ask for an appointment with me for a comprehensive assessment and personalized treatment plan.