Estrogen Dominance Part 1: What Is It?

detoxification hormonal health period problems Mar 29, 2022

Starting around age 12, my journey with estrogen dominance began. I experienced early puberty, debilitating migraines, painful and heavy periods, and painful and swollen breasts throughout my young life. I developed a mild fibroid and experienced heavy bleeding into my adulthood. Unfortunately, so many of our patients are experiencing the same imbalances when they initially join our practice. So what is estrogen dominance, and what is at the root of this hormonal imbalance? 

 

Estrogen Dominance

 

Estrogen is one of the sex hormones both females and males have. It is the hormone that creates many of the female sex characteristics we are familiar with, such as breasts, wider hips, and pubic hair. It is an incredibly important hormone playing an essential role in a healthy female cycle as well as reproduction and growing a baby. It’s needed for bone and heart health, energy and vitality, and it’s the hormone that drops off after menopause when so many women start to feel awful. 

 

Although estrogen is needed, we don’t want too much of it and we also don’t want it present in its less desirable form. Too much estrogen, or toxic forms of estrogen, can lead to things such as breast cancer, endometriosis, fibrocystic breasts, painful periods, low libido, mood swings, weight gain, fatigue, migraines, and many other symptoms. We obviously don’t want to experience symptoms like these, but estrogen dominance is a sign that something is not right.

 

Just like any symptom, the unpleasant feelings we feel are actually our friends letting us know something is off that we need to pay attention to. We get to ask the right questions, look in the right places, and correct the imbalance it is highlighting. So thank goodness for symptoms!  Without a fire alarm going off or the smell of smoke, we may not know there is a fire.

 

So, what are the root causes of estrogen dominance? 

 

There are many factors that play into this hormonal imbalance such as

  • Genetics and epigenetic factors involving enzymes such as COMT and MTHFR

  • Liver detoxification imbalances

  • Our body’s preference on which hormones turn into estrogen or not

  • The types of estrogen products, or metabolites, our body makes

  • Environmental exposure to synthetic estrogens and other toxins

  • Dietary choices

  • One of my favorites...gut health!

 

Two main situations can lead to high estrogen. The first is if too much estrogen or synthetic estrogens are coming into or are being made in the body. The second is if not enough estrogen is leaving the body.

You can think about toxicity like a faucet and drain analogy. For a detailed article on that, read my previous blog post, The Faucet and Drain of Detox.

Many of the factors we often talk about with estrogen dominance are about bringing it in, or reducing the overall flow of toxins from the faucet.

Gut health, on the other hand, is more involved with the elimination of estrogen. This is equivalent to how well your drain is working to reduce the build up already in the sink, or the body, for sake of our analogy.

 

Learn more about the role your gut plays in estrogen dominance in part 2 of the blog series.

 

Estrogen Dominance Part 2: The Role Our Gut Plays

 

Dr. Leah Gordon

@tribemedicine

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