Women's Health

10 Signs of Estrogen Dominance and How To Treat It

Discover ten signs of estrogen dominance and learn how to treat it. Gain control of your hormonal health with Thrivelab's personalized
Dr. Nayan Patel
PharmD

Estrogen dominance is a term that has recently gained a lot of traction in the field of women's health and wellness. This is a condition where a woman can have either too much estrogen or not have enough progesterone to balance its effects in the body.

This imbalance in sex hormones can wreak havoc on a woman's body and overall health, leading to a variety of symptoms that can disrupt daily life.

When functioning properly, estrogen, a vital female hormone produced primarily in the ovaries, plays an essential role in regulating menstruation, enhancing mood, and maintaining bone health. However, when the balance between estrogen and progesterone is tipped in favor of estrogen, it can lead to numerous health problems.

As part of our commitment to making hormone health accessible and affordable, we here at Thrivelab make it our priority to help you navigate such challenges. With a focus on alleviating symptoms often linked to hormone imbalances, such as those seen in estrogen dominance, we aim to provide a comprehensive approach to women's health, serving an audience often overlooked in healthcare.

What Causes Estrogen Dominance?

Estrogen dominance can be a result of various factors, some within our control, others less so. Once you know the underlying cause behind your estrogen dominance, you can work with your Thrivelab provider to restore balance.

Age

One of the primary causes is age-related hormonal shifts. As women approach menopause, fluctuations in hormone levels, specifically the drop in progesterone levels, can lead to an excess of estrogen. These fluctuations are one of the primary reasons for hot flashes. 

This can happen even when your estrogen levels are technically low or normal. Since progesterone and estrogen balance each other out, low progesterone levels can lead to symptoms of high estrogen, no matter how much estrogen you actually have.

Stress

Stress is another significant contributor. High levels of stress can lead to an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. This uptick in cortisol can disrupt the overall hormonal balance, leading to a relative increase in estrogen levels.

This is because cortisol is a steroid hormone that is made from a substance called pregnenolone. Interestingly, progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen are also derived from pregnenolone, which means that an overabundance of cortisol can deplete your other hormone levels.

Outside Sources of Estrogen

The foods we consume also play a role. Certain foods are high in xenoestrogens, which are compounds that mimic estrogen in the body but are much more potent. These are found in foods containing pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones. In addition, excess body fat can lead to higher estrogen levels, as fat cells are capable of making estrogen.

Another crucial factor is exposure to environmental estrogens that are found in everyday items like plastic containers (BPA), personal care products (phthalates), and even some types of birth control. These external compounds can bind to estrogen receptors in the body, effectively increasing the levels of estrogen.

Poor Estrogen Metabolism

Furthermore, dysfunction in estrogen metabolism, which can occur due to issues in the gut microbiome (dysbiosis) or your liver’s detoxification pathways, can lead to an increase in more potent forms of estrogen, such as estrone and estradiol.

How Can Estrogen Dominance Affect Overall Health?

Estrogen dominance can lead to weight gain and menstrual irregularities, as well as more serious conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, and an increased risk of breast cancer. Recognizing the causes and potential impact is the first step in effectively addressing this hormone imbalance. 

With personalized hormone health plans, Thrivelab is here to help you navigate this journey. As our nurse practitioner Katie Jo says, “The hormones are like a symphony in the body. If you went to view a symphony and there was a violin that was out of tune, it would clearly stand out. So we look at the whole hormone panel to see how we can make a symphony in tune again. And that is the best way to improve this woman's quality of life.”

What Are 10 Signs of Estrogen Dominance?

Recognizing the symptoms of estrogen dominance can help pave the way towards managing and rectifying this hormone imbalance effectively. 

While these signs can indicate estrogen dominance, it's crucial to seek out help from a Thrivelab healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis. There could be other reasons for these symptoms, or they may be a result of other hormone imbalances. 

With that in mind, here are ten signs that could indicate the presence of estrogen dominance:

1. Weight Gain and Obesity

Estrogen dominance can trigger weight gain, particularly around the hips and waist. Estrogen is involved in fat storage, and high estrogen levels can promote fat accumulation. In turn, these additional fat cells can produce more estrogen, creating a cycle that can lead to obesity if not addressed.

2. Mood Swings and PMS

High estrogen levels can interfere with the balance of other hormones, such as cortisol, serotonin, and dopamine. This can lead to mood swings, anxiety, depression, and irritability. Estrogen dominance may also exacerbate premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, causing extreme mood swings in the weeks leading up to your period.

3. Irregular Periods and Heavy Menstruation

As you probably know, estrogen is crucial for regulating the menstrual cycle. Estrogen is responsible for thickening the endometrium (or uterine lining), which then sheds during menstruation.

Estrogen dominance can cause the endometrium to excessively build up, which means that there is more tissue that your body will need to remove during menstruation. This can cause heavy periods of menstruation, known as menorrhagia, which can further deplete the body of essential nutrients and iron.

4. Low Sex Drive

While estrogen is often associated with female sexuality, an excess of this hormone can paradoxically lead to a low sex drive. Estrogen dominance can inhibit the normal ebb and flow of sex hormones throughout the menstrual cycle, resulting in a decreased libido.

Oftentimes, this low libido is due to the other symptoms of estrogen dominance. After all, it’s only reasonable that mood swings, weight gain, fatigue, and breast tenderness might keep you from getting in the mood.

5. Fatigue and Insomnia

High estrogen levels can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia. Moreover, the bodily stress caused by hormone imbalances can result in chronic fatigue, a persistent feeling of tiredness that rest doesn't alleviate.

6. Breast Tenderness and Fibroids

Estrogen stimulates the growth of breast tissues. When in excess, this stimulation can cause breast tenderness and increase the risk of developing fibroids, which are benign growths in the uterus.

7. Hair Loss and Skin Changes

Estrogen contributes to hair and skin health, as well. However, when estrogen levels are too high, it can lead to hair thinning or loss, as well as changes in skin condition, such as increased oil production and acne.

8. Memory Problems and Migraines

Hormones like estrogen play a significant role in cognitive health, so estrogen dominance can lead to memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and even migraines. This can occur because of estrogen’s effects on neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, but it can also be due to the effects of low progesterone.

9. Infertility and PCOS

Chronically elevated estrogen levels can interfere with ovulation by lowering follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), making it more difficult to conceive. This can also contribute to conditions such as polycysticovary syndrome (PCOS), characterized by small cysts on the ovaries and irregular periods.

10. Digestive Issues

Estrogen dominance can even impact your digestive system, leading to bloating, constipation, and a feeling of fullness. This can be due to estrogen's role in regulating fluid balance and influencing gut motility.

How Is Estrogen Dominance Diagnosed?

Estrogen dominance can be diagnosed by health professionals via blood or saliva tests, which measure the levels of various hormones in the body. The evaluation of these hormones, including estradiol, estrone, and estriol – the three main types of estrogen — alongside progesterone levels, can help give a detailed understanding of hormone balance.

In addition to hormonal assessment, doctors may review personal health history, lifestyle factors, and physical symptoms to create a holistic picture of hormonal health.

As part of our commitment to reducing misdiagnosis and enhancing access to hormone health care, Thrivelab provides convenient telehealth consultations and wellness subscriptions that incorporate regular self-assessments. These assessments can keep track of any fluctuations in hormone levels, ensuring timely and accurate interventions.

How Can You Treat Estrogen Dominance?

There are several ways to treat estrogen dominance, depending on its severity and underlying causes.

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can be an effective treatment for estrogen dominance. BHRT uses hormones that are chemically identical to those our bodies produce naturally, and it can be customized to individual needs. With personalized treatment plans, Thrivelab ensures an optimal balance of hormones to alleviate symptoms and restore hormone balance.

Lifestyle Changes

Diet, exercise, and stress management play crucial roles in hormone regulation. A diet rich in nutrient-dense foods can support the liver in metabolizing excess estrogen. 

Meanwhile, regular exercise can help maintain a healthy body weight and reduce body fat, which is known to produce estrogen. Also, stress management techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can help regulate cortisol, the stress hormone, which can indirectly affect estrogen levels.

Supplements and Detoxification

Certain supplements can assist in managing estrogen dominance by supporting the liver, which is responsible for estrogen detoxification. For instance, B vitamins, magnesium, and probiotics can support liver function and promote a healthy microbiome. Regular detoxification practices, such as consuming fiber-rich foods and drinking plenty of water, can also aid in eliminating excess estrogen.

Estrogen Dominance: Reclaim Your Hormone Balance

Navigating the complex world of hormone imbalances like estrogen dominance can be daunting. Yet, understanding the signs, causes, and treatment options can empower you to take control of your hormone health. From weight gain to mood swings, recognizing these symptoms is the first step in addressing estrogen dominance.

Through personalized care, Thrivelab is here to guide you on this path, offering comprehensive and accessible hormone health services. Whether it's estrogen dominance or any other hormone-related issue, we’ve got what you need for a personalized and effective hormone health plan. 

Don't let estrogen dominance control your life; reclaim your hormone balance with Thrivelab. You have the power to transform your health, and with us as your partner, you don't have to do it alone. Take the first step today by scheduling an appointment.

References

  1. Estrogen Hormone Biology | PMC
  2. Cortisol | NCBI Bookshelf
  3. Exploring the Biological Activity and Mechanism of Xenoestrogens and Phytoestrogens in Cancers: Emerging Methods and Concepts | PMC
  4. Bisphenol A (BPA) | NIEHS
  5. Phthalates in Cosmetic and Personal Care Products: Concentrations and Possible Dermal Exposure | NCBI Bookshelf
  6. Birth Control Pills | MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
  7. Gut Microbiota Dysbiosis: Triggers, Consequences, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Options | PMC
  8. The Importance of Estradiol for Body Weight Regulation in Women | PMC
  9. Menorrhagia | NCBI Bookshelf
  10. Uterine Fibroids | PMC
  11. Hormonal Effects on Hair Follicles | PMC
  12. Profiling and Hormonal Therapy for Acne in Women | PMC
  13. The Role of Estrogen in Brain and Cognitive Aging | PMC
  14. PolycysticOvarian Disease | NCBI Bookshelf
  15. Advances in Precision Health and Emerging Diagnostics for Women | PMC
  16. Dissecting the Prevention of Estrogen-Dependent Breast Carcinogenesis Through Nrf2-Dependent and Independent Mechanisms | PMC
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