PMS? Painful periods? Heavy menstrual bleeding? Learn what causes excess estrogen, the top reason behind these various menstrual disharmonies.
When you have signs of estrogen dominance, such as PMS, mood swings, painful periods, breast tenderness, weight gain, bloating, headaches and insomnia, it’s important to understand what causes the excess estrogen in your body so you can take steps to correct the underlying imbalance.
5 Leading Causes of Estrogen Dominance
So what happens in your body to cause estrogen levels to rise?
The short answer is that estrogen needs to be broken down in the liver and excreted through stool and urine.
There are five factors that commonly interfere with normal estrogen metabolism, leading to excess levels of estrogen relative to progesterone.
1. Aging Ovaries
It’s estimated that more than half of the women over age 35 have high estrogen levels relative to progesterone.
This is because a decreasing ovarian reserve triggers the release of follicular stimulating hormones (FSH), which in turn promotes the production of estrogen.
At the same time, a decreasing progesterone level (a natural part of the aging process) will make estrogen level to appear higher relative to progesterone.
For detailed explanation, review my post: Estrogen Dominance during Perimenopause.
2. Adrenal Imbalance
Prolonged stress increases cortisol – the body’s main stress hormone. Cortisol is known to reduce the production of progesterone and block its receptors. And lower levels of progesterone lead to higher estrogen/progesterone ratios and signs of estrogen dominance.
A healthy adrenal function is the foundation for estrogen and progesterone balance.
For this reason, it’s important to recognize the signs of adrenal fatigue and learn natural ways to restoring your body’s adrenal balance.
3. Exposure to Xenoestrogens
Xenoestrogens are chemicals that mimic the functions of our natural estrogens. When they enter our body, they attach themselves to our cells’ receptors, taking over the natural estrogens’ functions to control growth and development.
As you know, estrogens promote tissue growth and development, which give you lovely breasts, supple skin, and the ability to conceive and create a new life.
Too much estrogen in the body, however, can promote unnatural growth such as fibroids, cysts, tumors and weight gain. It also interrupts the balance of the entire endocrine system.
Though estrogen is primarily produced in the ovaries, it’s made by fat cells as well.
So, being overweight also contributes to estrogen dominance – and other associated conditions such as breast and uterine cancers. The risks get even higher after menopause as estrogen is then mostly made by fat cells.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, women who gain more than 20 pounds from age 18 to midlife double their risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.
And women who gained more than 44 pounds since age 18 had a fivefold increased risk of endometrial cancer, per National Cancer Institute.
So if you’re overweight, getting your weight down to normal is the key to lowering your estrogen levels. Start by adding these 10 anti-inflammatory foods to your diet.
5. Poor Diet and Nutritional Deficiencies
As mentioned earlier, estrogen is metabolized in the liver. It needs to be broken down and excreted efficiently to avoid unhealthy buildup.
Certain foods congest the liver and impair its ability to process estrogen. These include animal products packed with antibiotics and growth hormones, refined carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice, and processed foods such as sweets and potato chips, alcohol, etc.
These foods tend to be poor in fiber and vital nutrients, reducing the production of progesterone and causing excess estrogen to accumulate.
For detailed recommendations, read Natural Supplements to Increase Progesterone and Balance Estrogen.
So far, we’ve discussed the five leading causes of estrogen dominance. Except for the natural aging of ovaries, four are within our control.
This is great news because it means that we can restore our estrogen and progesterone balance by eating healthy, exercising regularly, effectively managing stress, and living a clean lifestyle.
But while we know what to do, the difference between realities and dreams is in the actions. So the question is how to come up with a plan that works for you – a plan that creates healthy habits and routines, and allows you stick to them in the long haul.
For support, check out our free resources.
Chasteberry (proven to help treat low progesterone and regulate menstrual cycles in more than 60 years of clinical research, including 5 randomized trials)
Vitamin B6 (one of the best vitamins to boost progesterone)
Progesterone Cream (bio-identical hormonal support)
Reduce Estrogen Dominance
Liver Cleanse Detox and Repair Formula (support liver functions)
Dim Plus (improve estrogen metabolism)
Support Adrenal and Thyroid Functions
Adrenal Health Daily Support (promote overall hormone balance)
Thyroid Support Complex (support energy and metabolism)
Once Daily Organic Whole Food Vitamin Supplement (provide essential nutrients for health and hormone balance)
Liquid Iron (support healthy blood)
The Hormone Cure, by Dr. Sara Gottfried
Cooking for Hormone Balance, by Magdalena Wszelaki