The O Factor – Oestrogen Dominance
Oestrogen, commonly described as the “woman’s hormone”, has the central role of preparing women for pregnancy.
That includes the monthly proliferation of endometrial cells and growth of the uterine lining to prepare for the successful implantation of a fertilised egg.
In the absence of a successful implantation, oestrogen levels drop, and the newly laid uterine lining is shed in menstruation.
But what happens when something goes wrong and oestrogen levels continue to dominate? Endometrial cells will continue to proliferate, causing a thicker uterine lining and heavier menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia).
Oestrogen dominance is now affecting women throughout their reproductive years. We are also witnessing an increase in conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), both of which aggravate oestrogen dominance and perpetuate hormonal imbalances.
Symptoms of Oestrogen Dominance
- Irregular and/or heavy periods
- Fluid retention (due to increased renal reabsorption of sodium and water)
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings, irritability and/or depression
- Weight gain around the hips, thighs and abdomen
- Low libido
- Symptoms of low thyroid function
- Sleep disturbances and insomnia
- Difficulties concentrating, “foggy head”
- Thinning of scalp hair
What’s Causing It?
In women, oestrogen is produced in the ovaries primarily in the form of oestradiol (E2), as well as in peripheral tissue in the form of oestrone (E1).
The production of E1 and E2 involves their conversion from androgens (e.g. androstenedione, DHEA and testosterone) in a process catalysed by the aromatase enzyme.
Anything that increases the expression of aromatase, therefore, leads to increased oestrogen production, in both men and women.
Inflammation is a major activator of aromatase activity. The inflammatory state is characterised by increased expression of the cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme.
This leads to increased production of prostaglandin 2 (PGE2) and the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha, all of which have been positively correlated with the heightened aromatase expression and excessively high oestrogen levels.
Emed Female Hormone Profile test gives you readings for E1, E2, E3, Progesterone, Testosterone and DHEA. This test can be a great place to start if you think that oestrogen dominance may be causing your current health conditions.
This test can also help you monitor the effects of current hormonal treatment.
Fat cells release pro-inflammatory signals. Therefore, being overweight or obese can increase aromatase activity by creating an inflammatory state.
Achieving a healthy weight, and more specifically, a healthy body fat percentage, is vital for individuals wishing to effectively control/avoid an oestrogen dominant condition.
Click here for the Shake-It Weight Loss program.
Indirectly, oestrogen dominance may also develop from elevated androgens (e.g. testosterone) seen in conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
In the presence of obesity and inflammation, these excess androgens are rapidly converted to oestrogen (primarily E1).
Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills contain oestrogen, and contribute to the development or worsening of oestrogen dominance. Depending on dosage, birth control pills can be very potent, and may linger for a long period of time in the body.
Cramping, painful and irregular periods are often due to a deficiency of progesterone and an excess of oestrogen. Oestrogen alone contraceptive pills can often compound this problem.
That’s why some women have intolerable oestrogen-induced side effects when they are on an oral contraceptive pill such as weight gain, mood swings and breast tenderness.
To maintain healthy oestrogen balance in the body, excess oestrogen’s are normally metabolised in the liver and excreted in the gastrointestinal tract. Any disruptions to these processes will lead to oestrogen dominance.
The solution? Try and help the body remove the excess oestrogen.
Folic acid, B12, B6 and magnesium are some of the most important nutrients required for these pathways, and the inclusion of cabbage, sprouts and broccoli that are high in indoles which accelerate oestrogen conversion to its water soluble form.
A chemical made from broccoli sprouts called Sulforaphane has been shown to help in oestrogen detoxification. EnduraCell Plus 100% Broccoli Sprout Powder induces our Phase 2 detoxification enzymes to safely eliminate oestrogen safely.
A high fibre diet is also an advantage: it accelerates the transit time (less constipation) and reduces the numbers of unfriendly bacteria that cleave the oestrogen bond.
Xenoestrogens are oestrogens or oestrogen-like compounds originating from external sources.
They enter the body, mostly unintentionally, through the diet or lifestyle practices, e.g. pesticide residues and dioxins in food, parabens in cosmetics and bisphenol-A (BPA) in plastic drinking bottles and food storage containers.
Xenoestrogens add to the oestrogen load in the body and can therefore contribute to oestrogen dominance and oestrogen-dependent diseases including breast and uterine cancers.
Avoiding xenoestrogen exposure, and enhancing oestrogen clearance will help to minimise their unwanted effects on the body.
While we may not be able to avoid these chemicals completely, we can reduce our exposure by choosing organic produce and by using chemical free products.
Oestrogen dominance is becoming an all too common condition today; one that if left unaddressed can bring about serious health challenges. Bringing your hormones into balance is the key to feeling great, looking great, and living well.
Remember to keep the following things in mind when working to balance oestrogen dominance:
- Avoid xenoestrogens and strong phytoestrogens
- Address and manage stress in your life
- Eat a balanced diet free of hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics
- Supplement as needed
- Exercise to promote detoxification and circulation
- Stay positive and find support when you need it
- If you don’t know where to start, talk to your Emed Practitioner today.