As you probably know, there are many different types of hormones in our body. I’m going to focus on two specific steroid hormones, estrogen and progesterone, and discuss the impact these hormones can have on the body when there is an improper ratio between the two. There are actually three types of estrogens:
1. Estradiol – the strongest and most abundant estrogen in the body
2. Estriol – the weakest estrogen in the body
3. Estrone – the least abundant of the three estrogen hormones
When talking about estrogen dominance, estradiol is the prominent estrogen involved. Both estrogen and progesterone work together, and while these hormones play a big role in women, they also are produced in men as well. In both men and women, estrogen and progesterone need to be in a certain ratio. This ratio varies not only between men and women, but also between cycling and menopausal women.
Speaking of menopausal women, many people mistakenly assume that menopausal women don’t produce any progesterone. While it is true that their ovaries no longer produce progesterone, other parts of their body do produce it. So to take bioidentical progesterone just because you’re menopausal is a big mistake, although some books recommend that all menopausal women should do this in order to help with the common menopausal symptoms women tend to have. However, most menopausal symptoms can be reduced or completely eliminated through natural treatment methods, and without having to take natural progesterone for the rest of your life.
With regards to estrogen dominance, this doesn’t always involve an increase in estrogen. As mentioned before, both estrogen and progesterone need to be in a certain ratio (ideally 30 to 1), and in many cases the problem involves a deficiency of progesterone. This is one of the reasons why natural progesterone is frequently recommended for this condition, which sometimes is admittedly necessary, but often times this hormonal imbalance can be corrected by following a natural treatment protocol and without taking any natural hormones.
What Are Some Of The Side Effects Of Estrogen Dominance?
There are many different symptoms one can have with estrogen dominance, such as weight gain, depression, breast tenderness, mood swings and irritability, fatigue, and numerous other symptoms. It’s also important to know that estrogen dominance can lead to the development of other conditions, including thyroid disorders. The reason for this is because this condition can block thyroid hormone from getting into the cells. As a result, when seeing a natural endocrine doctor for a thyroid condition they will evaluate you to make sure you are not estrogen dominant, and if you are, put you on the necessary protocol to fix this.
This is yet another reason why people shouldn’t self-treat their condition, as while eating well and taking the right type and dosage of nutritional supplements can definitely help, not all cases of estrogen dominance can be cured through diet and supplementation. And while I’m not a huge fan of giving bioidentical hormones, sometimes it is necessary for people with this condition to take them for a short period of time. However, as I mentioned earlier, if at all possible I will try to correct estrogen dominance with natural treatment methods instead of bioidentical progesterone, which most of the time is possible.
What Causes Estrogen Dominance?
As for what can cause estrogen dominance, there are numerous factors that can lead to this condition, which as mentioned before can in turn cause thyroid issues. Lifestyle factors definitely can play a role, as chronic stress can ultimately lead to a decrease in progesterone, which can lead to estrogen dominance.
On the other hand, eating a lot of meats with added hormones can increase the amount of estrogen in the body, which also will affect the balance of estrogen and progesterone. Too much exposure to xenohormones can also lead to estrogen dominance. I’ll talk more about xenohormones in a future post, as this is a serious problem that is affecting the health of just about everyone.
More and more people are developing estrogen dominance due to the misuse of bioidentical hormones. For example, someone who is taking bioidentical estrogen can easily overdose, which is why you need to be extremely careful. Most women aren’t estrogen deficient, and therefore don’t need to take bioidentical estrogen.
Taking bioidentical progesterone can also lead to estrogen dominance, especially with regards to progesterone creams. I’m not going to explain the physiology behind this in this post, but it’s really easy to overdose with progesterone cream, which on the surface might seem to give someone an excess of progesterone, and not lead to a progesterone deficiency.
But from a cellular perspective the person will actually have a deficiency in progesterone, as when they overdose, the cells will eventually stop taking in progesterone, which will lead to a deficiency. Once again, I’m not going to discuss the physiology behind this, but the point is that abusing bioidentical hormones can lead to a lot of problems. Many sources will mistakenly tell you that because these hormones are natural they carry very little risk, which isn’t true. And the unfortunate part is that many medical doctors who give bioidentical hormones to their patients don’t know much about them.
How Can A Doctor Diagnose Estrogen Dominance?
The best way for a doctor to diagnose estrogen dominance is through a male or female hormone panel. You obviously need to look at the ratio of estrogen to progesterone, which ideally should be around 30 to 1. But since hormones interact with one another it also is a good idea to look at the levels of some of the other hormones as well.
How Can Estrogen Dominance Be Corrected?
In order to correct estrogen dominance, the doctor will once again begin with a hormone panel to determine the ratios of both estrogen and progesterone. Remember that estrogen dominance doesn’t always mean an excess of estrogen, as sometimes the estrogen levels are normal, but the progesterone levels are deficient. Either way, since chronic stress and poor eating habits contribute to estrogen dominance, then it makes sense that eating well and doing a good job of managing stress will help with this condition, as well as taking quality nutritional supplements of the right type and dosage.
If the estrogen levels are high, then one also might need to do a liver detoxification in order to help eliminate the excess estrogen, which along with modifying the lifestyle and environmental factors (eating well, managing stress, reducing exposure to xenohormones, etc.), will help to balance the hormone levels. If the estrogen levels are normal and the person is deficient in progesterone, then frequently the person will need to take certain nutritional supplements and/or herbs to help raise the progesterone levels, and sometimes will need to take bioidentical progesterone for a short period if time.
Of course the ultimate goal is to get the body to produce a sufficient amount of progesterone on its own and not have to rely on taking hormones or supplements. Once again, this is possible even with menopausal women, as there is no good reason to have to continuously take progesterone for a prolonged period of time.
So hopefully you have a better understanding as to what estrogen dominance is, and how it can affect your body. It can lead to many of the symptoms women experience, making it almost impossible to lose weight, and can also lead to the development of other conditions. The good news is that under the guidance of a competent natural doctor it is relatively easy to correct, and so if you have any type of thyroid disorder, it’s a good idea to obtain a hormone panel to determine if you have this condition so you can begin the process of getting it corrected.
ELizabeth Tesla says
Thank you for this illuminating post.
I have endometriosis (avanced stage, first diagnosed in 2008, but I thin I had it for at least 5 years) and have recently been diagnosed with Hachimoto. If I understand correctly, according to your post the endometriosis (estrogene dominance) might have caused my thyriod condition ?
I have asked numerous doctors if there is a conection between the two conditions, and they have always said that they are two separate problems. This answer has always left me sceptical.
Do you have any contacts for a natural doctor in France (Paris area) who could help me get this problem under control?
I will be attempting an in vitro fertilisation in september and would like to be as healty as possible before we start the process.
Thank you and best regards,
Dr. Eric says
Estrogen dominance is not the same as endometriosis, although entrometriosis is usually driven by estrogen dominance. In your case, I definitely would recommend a female hormone panel to confirm this, and assuming that estrogen dominance is the culprit, would follow the appropriate treatment protocol to correct this problem. I don’t know of any natural doctors in Paris, but if you’re willing to consult with one remotely over the phone I can provide you with the contact information of a good natural endocrine doctor. You might even be able to avoid the in vitro fertilization process, depending on your condition. Just shoot me an email and let me know if you’re interested.
Now one more thing to wonder about and correct, “estrogen dominance”. I was disgnosed with hypothyroidism 8 years ago. Started taking a compounded Thyroid Rx. Over the next 8 years I was prescribed Synthroid, along with the compound, and at one point that took just Armor Thyroid rx. My endocrinologist also started me on biiidentical hormones. A year later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I underwent a bilateral mastectomy, my tumor was ER/Pr+ Her2-, all nodes were clear. I took Tamoxifen for 4 years. 2 years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson Disease. Because of the BC my gynecologist has always done a trannsvaginal ultrasound. The last one performed in November showed endometrial thickening. So I unrderwent a biopsy, which came back okay. I’ve been seeing an intergrative Dr for the past 6 month. I’m now taking the Thyroid compound IR twice/day. Because of leaky gut she’s thinking I’m not digesting the SR Thyroid, so trying the IR. I’m post menapausal, 5 years. No one can tell me why the endometrial thickening occurred. I’m thinking it’s because of estrogen dominance. She has mentioned running a E/P hormone profile, but wanted to get gut issues under control. What are your thoughts? Thank you.