Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance can affect men and women (both cycling and menopausal).  

The symptoms of estrogen dominance run the gamut, but here are a few of the most common symptoms: 

  • Infertility 
  • Weight gain (especially around the hips and belly) 
  • Mood swings 
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety & Depression
  • Endometriosis

Relative vs. Frank

There are two different ways estrogen can be “dominant”.  

“Frank” estrogen dominance is when estrogen levels are out of lab-range normal.  

“Relative” estrogen dominance is when there is too little progesterone to offset estrogen.  In this situation, estrogen can still be lab-range low and cause estrogen dominance at the same time.  

There are multiple factors that can lead to estrogen dominance seen in the graphic below.  

Test Don’t Guess

When I’m working with a client who I suspect may be suffering from estrogen dominance, my first order of business is to order a test to confirm that estrogen dominance is at play. 

My favorite test for cycling women is the Diagnostechs eFHP, and my favorite test for men and menopausal women is the DUTCH test.  

Reduce Estrogen Levels

Once testing has confirmed that estrogen dominance is an issue, here are several factors to consider: 

  • Reduce alcohol intake.  One alcoholic drink can increase estrogen by 10%. 
  • Blood sugar balance is an important for both men and women, but in men it’s especially important.  The aromatase enzyme is responsible for converting androgens, such as testosterone and DHEA, into estrogens. Aromatase is found most prevalently in fat cells, so the more fat a man carries, especially in the abdominal area, the more aromatase he will have, which can lead to an overconversion of testosterone into estrogens. 
  • Xenoestrogens + endocrine disruptors have been shown to mimic the activity of estrogen & increase estrogen levels. Reduce plastic, check personal care products & eat meat that is organic, wild or pasture-raised and without hormones. 
  • Certain sulfur-containing foods such as those from the brassica family (eg, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage) as well as garlic and onions have been shown to upregulate phase II reactions, thereby promoting estrogen clearance down the healthier 2-OH liver detox pathway. 
  • The Estrobolome produces an essential enzyme that helps to metabolize estrogen.  Your gut is thus part of the elimination system that is vital to ushering hormones out of the body.  I use a test called the GI Map in my practice which amongst many things, measures beta-glucuronidase which is an important indicator of how well the gut is metabolizing estrogen. 
  • Support liver detoxification by eating enough protein every day (especially animal protein), antioxidant support including Vitamin C, selenium and ALA.  Castor oil packs are also useful for this. 
  • Nourish your emotional & spiritual world.  Cortisol can make estrogen dominance worse.  
  • A supplement that combines calcium-D-glucarate, DIM & broccoli seed extract can be helpful for moving estrogen onto the healthier 2-OH liver detox pathway and out of your body.   BUT – it’s really important to test before diving into supplements. 
  • Eat at least 25 grams of fiber per day in the form of plenty of fruits and veggies to both restore balance to the gut microbiome and assist the movement of estrogen out of the body.  
  • Cut caffeine – this calms cortisol levels which negatively impact sex hormone levels. 
  • Go to sleep by 10 pm which helps to amplify melatonin, a hormone that lowers estradiol.  

Increase Progesterone

One of the most important parts progesterone plays in the body is to counterbalance estrogen. If progesterone levels are low it can cause estrogen dominance.

How you increase your progesterone levels depends on your stage of life and is often not as simple as applying a cream or taking a pill.  

Here are several factors to consider: 

  • Vitamin C: 750 mg. p. Day has been found to increase progesterone levels in some people. 
  • B-6 supports the health of the corpus lute which is responsible for secreting progesterone
  • Magnesium: controls insulin levels, influences testosterone and health of the ovaries overall.  
  • Zinc & copper supplement is imperative for the production of progesterone. 
  • Stabilize blood sugar with proteins & fats.
  • Stress-relieving practices like meditation and exercise support the adrenals which are the main producers of progesterone for men and menopausal women. 
  • Cut down on caffeine.  Caffeine increases cortisol levels. 
  • Cut alcohol consumption which has been linked to belly fat, PMS, anxiety, mood problems and headaches. Alcohol taxes the liver and requires the liver to process alcohol versus burn fat. 
  • Herbal therapy like chasteberry has been shown to ncreases LH which cues progesterone to rise.  A Stanford University School of Medicine Study shows that in women with low progesterone, fertility rates are higher among those taking chasteberry.  After 6 months of treatment, 32% of women taking chasteberry became pregnant compared w/ 10% taking a placebo.  Less that 2% had adverse affects. 
  • Supplements for the brain and pituitary to amplify Gonadotropin-releasing hormone, LH & FSH levels which act as a communication superhighway between the brain, pituitary and sex organs. 
  • Bioidentical progesterone is a great option for women in the latter part of perimenopause or menopause. (Different from progestin which has been shown to have a lot of side effects.) 

Get Help

I know both personally and professionally how detrimental these issues can be to your health and sense of wellbeing.

Balancing hormones is no small feat. When in doubt, work with a practitioner to understand the root cause of your hormonal issues.

There’s so much that can be done to help you to feel like yourself again!

2 Comments

  1. Robin on November 3, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    Hi Ishbel, I hope you are doing well!
    Great information in your post!
    I am signing up for your upcoming class. Thanks for offering this!
    Lots of love, Robin

    • ishbelwell on November 3, 2021 at 4:04 pm

      Yay! I’m so happy you can join!

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About me

About Ishbel

For the last twenty years, I have helped people take charge of their health and feel better. I have been in your shoes - sick, tired, and overwhelmed by how to actionably care for myself. If you want to feel better, but don't know where to start, you've come to the right place. Learn More >

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