Hormonal Imbalance and Causes of Estrogen Dominance
We still have a lot to learn on how to balance the complex dynamics of women’s hormones and the research so far has only scratched the surface.
- Hormones are molecules that carry instructions from endocrine glands and tissues to cells all over the body. Humans have about 50 different known hormones that control a variety of biological processes including muscle growth, heart rate, menstrual cycles, hunger etc.
- All of the hormones and especially the known key players – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol and thyroid need to be in perfect sync and harmony. How much of each hormone is made depends on a complicated feedback loop that involves brain, the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, the ovaries, and the adrenal glands.
- Stress, poor nutrition, use of birth control pill and exposure to toxins influence this feedback process and directly impact hormones and hormonal balance.
- Just like the symphony orchestra, if one instrument (hormone) is out of tune, so is the melody and the symptoms like PMS, fatigue, mood swings, weight gain, insomnia, low libido, depression, fibrosis, night sweats start to appear.
- When the orchestra (hormone system) is seriously out of tune, Ovarian cysts, Endometriosis, Fibroids, Endometrial cancer, Fibrocystic breasts, Cervix cancer, Cervix dysplasia may occur.
Estrogen Dominance = Hormonal Imbalance
- Estrogen and progesterone are female sex hormones. During a menstrual cycle estrogen rises in the first half of the cycle, peaks at ovulation, then falls in the second half as progesterone, produced mainly by the ovaries, rises. If there is no pregnancy, woman has a period and the whole cycle recommences.
- Estrogen dominance happens when estrogen is disproportionally higher than progesterone, however the judgment if the ratio is normal is not trivial as this ratio is individualized and dynamic. Estrogen dominance obviously leads to hormonal imbalance.
- In the Western world women in the childbearing years tend to be estrogen-dominant which causes various health issues.
- There are 3 main contributors to Estrogen Dominance and Hormonal Imbalance in women all of them equally important
2. Birth Control Pill
1. Xeno-Estrogens Are Key Contributors To Estrogen Dominance and Hormonal Imbalance
- Estrogen-dominance can be caused by exposure to xeno-estrogens. Xeno-estrogens are the chemicals that resemble estrogen. Many of these xeno-estrogens are proven carcinogens. Our body unfortunately cannot always distinguish xeno-estrogens from natural estrogen which leads to estrogen dominance.
- Xeno-estrogens behave like hormones and can alter the timing of puberty in children, decrease sperm quality and stimulate mammary gland development in men, disrupt reproductive cycles and cause ovarian dysfunction and PMS in women. Xeno-estrogens are associated with obesity, cancer, heart disease and more. Sperm counts have dropped by 50% in some studies and girls as young as 7 or 8 are increasingly entering the puberty.
- Also important to know is that the estrogen inhibits the absorption of iodine, that’s why hypothyroidism disproportionately affects women. See more on Iodine Deficiency Epidemic.
- The top environmental offenders like BPA (bisphenol A), BPS (bisphenol-S), phthalates, agricultural chemicals, food additives, bovine growth hormone (rBGH), fluoride and many more are behaving as xeno-estrogens thus causing the estrogen to rise. Find here The List of Top Environmental Offenders and Food Additives.
- Metalloestrogens is a new class of estrogen-mimicking compounds. The metals like Aluminum, Chromium, Copper, Nickel and many others which are added to thousands of consumer products, including vaccines are adding to our estrogen levels and deepen further woman’s estrogen dominance.
2. Dangerous Birth Control Pill is Key Contributor to Estrogen Dominance and Hormonal Imbalance
The birth control pills, which are synthetic, artificial hormones wreak havoc on woman’s body and their use is almost never justified.
A woman’s natural cycle is composed of rising and falling levels of estrogen and progesterone. Birth control pills work by playing with hormones (e.g. keeping estrogen at a sufficiently high level) that they fool the body into thinking it is pregnant, therefore another pregnancy cannot occur.
The pill may
- Increase the risk of cervical and breast cancers
- Increase the risk of blood clotting, heart attack and stroke. Contraceptives containing the synthetic hormone desogestrel more than double your risk of fatal blood clots
- Make your bones thinner
- Increase your blood pressure
- Cause sexual dysfunction. The pill may interfere with a protein that keeps testosterone unavailable, leading to long-term sexual dysfunction including decreased desire and arousal.
- Cause side effects like migraines, nausea, weight gain, mood swings, irregular bleeding, breast tenderness, yeast overgrowth and infection.
There are numerous safe and effective ways to prevent pregnancy, the pill will indeed keep away unwanted pregnancy, but at the price of destroying the health and in some cases even causing the death.
3. Stress Is Key Contributor to Estrogen Dominance and Hormonal Imbalance
Stress plays a major role in estrogen overproduction by triggering an elevated level of cortisol, which interrupts the feedback loop between the brain, pituitary, and the ovaries.
When we are under a lot of stress and our adrenals are pumping out cortisol then our bodies take any available progesterone and divert it to meet that demand.
When woman is under stress too much progesterone may get diverted for cortisol so there is not enough to make the testosterone which is needed for a woman’s sexual response. She may feel sick, lethargic, may skip periods and be uninterested in sex.
So the answer may not necessarily be in supplementing hormones, but rather handling the stress so the body can balance the hormone levels naturally.
Read about some ideas/good practices on how to handle the stress levels Well-Being and Stress Handling.
Other Contributing Factors to Estrogen Dominance and Hormonal Imbalance
- Obesity – the more fat you have, the more estrogen is present.
- Decreased production of progesterone. If there is no ovulatation, no progesterone is made.
- Coffee addiction. Coffee Significantly Increases Estrogen in Women. Women who consumed four or five cups, had nearly 70% more estrogen than women consuming no more one cup of coffee.
How do I know if I am Estrogen Dominant?
If you are woman and live in the Western world, the chances are good you are estrogen dominant, given inevitable exposure to environmental toxins, stress and busy life. However there is no simple test available that would easily help us determine if we are estrogen dominant.
If you have severe symptoms of PMS, pre-menopause or menopause you may be estrogen dominant.
When estrogen levels are high in relation to our progesterone we experience symptoms, among them anxiety, breast tenderness, headaches or migraines, depression, fatigue, food cravings, irregular bleeding, water retention, weight gain and more.
The difficulty is that a number of these symptoms are also indicative of the exact opposite condition — a deficiency of estrogen which makes the assessment extremely hard.
You will want to make sure you get your hormonal levels checked properly before embarking on any kind of hormone supplementation program, and work with a knowledgeable health care practitioner who can guide you as the assessment is never a straight-forward exercise.
The hormones testing is a controversial topic because it is difficult to get an accurate measure of the levels. 24 hour urine test seems to be one of the better ways.
Read more about 8 Strategies That Help Restoring Natural Hormonal Balance
Sources and Credits