Depressed or irritable? PMS or insomnia? Irregular or heavy periods? These symptoms could be results of either high or low estrogen levels. Read on to see if you have signs of estrogen dominance or deficiency.
Estrogen, a group of female sex hormones, has a very important effect on your mental clarity, emotional stability and physical vitality. Estrogen dominance, or deficiency, can be the cause of your monthly mood swings, depression, PMS or perimenopausal symptoms.
So to find relief for your menstrual cycle symptoms, it’s important to have some basic understanding of what estrogen is and what is does.
The Role of Estrogen
Simply put, estrogen is what makes you a woman, and it’s the essence of your femininity. It makes your skin supple and glowing, your eyes sparkling, your breasts full, your mind sharp and clear, and your mood uplifted and stable. It regulates your menstrual cycle and keeps you youthful.
Good stuff, right? But the fluctuation of estrogen and its excesses or deficiencies can also create a whole slew of problems for you during your menstrual cycles – and at various stages of your life.
Estrogen Fluctuations During Your Monthly Cycle
When you start your period, your estrogen level is very low. It begins to increase after menstruation and reaches its monthly peak at ovulation (12-16 days before your next period). It’s on a path of slow decline after that, followed by a slight peaking again about one week after you ovulate. Then, unless you’re pregnant, the production of estrogen bottoms out again until your next cycle returns.
A Quick Way to Gauge Your Estrogen Level
No two women are alike. And even if your estrogen level falls within the normal range via a blood test, that doesn’t really tell you much. Luckily, your body provides some useful clues on how well you respond to its fluctuations, and if you have a balanced level of its production.
In his book Natural Hormone Balance for Women, Dr. Uzzi Reiss, an M.D., gynecologist, and expert in women’s hormone issues, offers a simple way to gauge your own estrogen level.
Assuming you have a 28-day cycle, if you feel best from day 7 to day 14, that means your body likes a higher level of estrogen. If you feel good only during this period, you are probably estrogen deficient. And if you are estrogen deficient, you are also likely to suffer from specific menstrual cycle symptoms a few days before and during your period.
If your symptoms are mostly premenstrual (from ovulation to the onset of your menstruation), it may indicate that you suffer from estrogen dominance or progesterone deficiency.
In addition to how you feel during your cycle, there are four other ways to help paint a clear picture of your unique estrogen profile. I encourage you to learn the five key factors that influence your estrogen individuality.
Because estrogen regulates your menstrual cycles and plays an important role in your mental clarity, physical vitality and emotional stability, as well as your sexuality and fertility, its excess or deficiency also manifests differently in these five key areas:
Signs of Estrogen Deficiency
Forgetfulness, mental fogginess, poor concentration
Hot flashes, night sweats, sagging breasts, loss of skin radiance, dry eyes and skin, fatigue, reduced stamina, increased appetite and weight gain, insomnia, headaches/migraines, back or joint pain
Anxiety, depression, mood swings
Fertility and Sexuality:
Decreased feeling of sensuality, lessened self-image and attention to appearance, vaginal dryness, painful sex, low libido, reduced fertility, vaginal/bladder infections
Irregular menstrual cycles, absence of periods, scanty or heavy periods, sense of normalcy only during the second week of the cycle
Signs of Estrogen Dominance
Snappy, short-tempered, impatient, but with a clear mind
Breast tenderness or pain, increase of breast size, water retention (swollen fingers and legs), weight gain, nausea, bloating, sugar cravings, sleep disturbances
Nervousness, irritability, anger outburst
Sexuality and Fertility:
Strong sense of femininity and sexuality, fertility issues caused by fibroids, ovarian cysts, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis
Heavy menstrual bleeding, menstrual blood that is dark red or with black clots, painful period cramps, PMS
Since estrogen dominance is often associated with progesterone deficiency, you may also want to learn more about progesterone:
As you can see above, it’s not very difficult to tell the difference between estrogen dominance or deficiency. Estrogen dominance manifests as various signs of excess, whereas estrogen insufficiency shows those of deficiency.
So based on the information above, do you think you have signs of estrogen dominance or deficiency
P.S. For further reading, I recommend Natural Hormone Balance for Women by Dr. Uzzi Reiss, MD and Hormone Cure by Sara Gotfried, MD. They both contain good information, and are easy to read for a non-medical person.
Many of our community members also like Dr. John Lee’s Hormone Balance Made Simple: The Essential How-to Guide to Symptoms, Dosage, Timing, and More.