One of the most common types of hormone imbalance we see in Naturopathic practice is estrogen dominance. This often-overlooked condition affects many women, oftentimes without their knowing. With this in mind, let’s take a quick look at what estrogen dominance is, what it can do to your body and mind, and what you can do to create hormone balance again.
What Is Estrogen Dominance?
What is being dominated in estrogen dominance? The level of estrogen in your body, in comparison to your level of progesterone.
Both estrogen and progesterone serve many functions, and their relative levels change throughout the menstrual cycle.
For the first half of the cycle, estrogen dominates, but after ovulation, progesterone levels rise sharply, while estrogen levels fall off.
Estrogen dominance primarily occurs because of anovulation (skipped ovulation), which prevents progesterone levels from rising in the second half of your cycle. This creates estrogen levels to be higher in relation to progesterone.
What Are The Symptoms?
The symptoms of estrogen dominance are actually incredibly widespread, due to estrogen’s role in so many bodily processes.
Here are a few of the most common symptoms of estrogen dominance:
Fatigue and Insomnia
Heavy or painful periods
More pronounced PMS
Headaches or brain fog
Weight/fat gain or bloating
What causes estrogen dominance?
Estrogen dominance, like many hormone-related issues, can be caused by many different factors, from behavioural, to environmental, to genetic.
One of the most prominent, as with many health problems, is stress. Heavy or chronic stress can lead to skipped ovulation, and this can lead to long term estrogen dominance.
Abnormal ovulation patterns, such as those in young girls or women nearing menopause, also lead to the same issues of skipped ovulation.
Lastly, plastics food packaging and cosmetics can contain estrogen-like substances (xenoestrogens), which can load your body up with estrogen-like molecules.
How can you prevent estrogen dominance? How can a Naturopath help?
Beyond universal factors like diet and exercise, there are several other ways to help keep your estrogen and progesterone in check.
Two of the best are detoxifying your liver, and decreasing your stress levels.
The liver removes waste from your body, including excess estrogen. Common estrogen detoxifying agents Naturopath ’s use in practice include DIM (Diindolmenthane) and I3C (Indol-3-carbinol), which are natural compounds found in Brussel sprouts and cabbage.
To reduce stress, Naturopath ’s will commonly recommend activities such as meditation and yoga, and will often prescribe acupuncture or herbal remedies to calm the nervous system.
Additionally, Naturopath ‘s will commonly use bioidentical progesterone or herbal medicine such as Chaste Tree (Vitex), to boost progesterone levels in the luteal phase of your cycle.
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