For those of you who have been tuning into my life, over the last year, you know that I’ve dealt with painful periods and acne. Believe me when I say: I’ve. Tried. Everything. I realize acne is caused by an unhealthy gut, but I thought my gut was healthy! Not until recently, was I made aware of the ever-present facts: my thyroid needed help, my gut was off and my hormones were imbalanced (I was high in estrogen, especially).
Estrogen-dominance happens when there is too much estrogen, in relation to progesterone, mainly in your luteal phase (the phase before your period and after ovulation). It is the most common hormonal imbalance in women.
Have you ever felt really lousy in the days/weeks leading up to your period? Chances are, it’s because of estrogen excess, which is the number one cause of numerous PMS symptoms. Since it fluctuates the entire month, it’s not considered “bad”, by any means. Estrogen is essential for healthy ovulation and menstruation, but finding balance can be tricky! Estrogen doesn’t directly impact sexual desire, but it assists in helping keep things lubricated and elastic. Did you know that without estrogen, clitoral stimulation has almost zero effect? Having too much estrogen can block testosterone production.
In your follicular phase (the phase after your period), it’s normal to have more estrogen than progesterone. Our follicles are maturing and the ovaries are producing estrogen to help prepare our uterine lining (for the potential to become fertilized). The tricky time comes after ovulation, when progesterone should be higher than estrogen.
Remember: Reproductive health (and fertility and libido, etc) is about so much more than just making babies. It affects your overall wellness (mind and body). Our bodies NEED estrogen to create healthy follicles, which we need in order to ovulate, which is how the corpus luteum is formed, which is the only way our bodies can make progesterone, which is the only way we can ensure that two week after ovulation, we’ll have a REAL period. Whew! Each part is SO connected and reliant on the other!
Estrogen is an essential component of our hormone health. It makes our skin plump and gives it a glow. It slows the aging process and builds bone and muscle. It helps raise libido (and assists in clitoral-stimulation, like mentioned earlier) and boosts serotonin. However, we don’t want too much of it. Long-term estrogen excess (over years and decades) can increase our risk of breast cancer, fibroids and lack of ovulation, which can lead to PCOS and infertility.
Symptoms of estrogen-dominance
Typically, any PMS symptoms are due to excess estrogen, however, having too much estrogen can cause many other not-so-great symptoms. Symptoms of Estrogen-Dominance include:
Bloating and water retention
Weight gain in hips, butt and thighs (estrogen stimulates fat cells to store more fat)
Oily skin and hair
Breast tenderness and pain, fibrocystic breasts
Why Estrogen-Dominance Happens
Unfortunately, in today’s society, we’re exposed so many chemicals, on a daily basis. Chemicals in our household cleaning products, personal care products, our food and even the air we breathe. It’s a scary thought, and no one person can prevent complete chemical-exposure, however, it’s important to be aware because these chemicals can make it very difficult for your hormones to be happy and healthy, functioning properly. Estrogen-Dominance happens from:
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (personal care and household cleaning products)
Environmental Toxin Exposure (pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in animal products)
Stress (emotional, physical, mental, work-related, etc.)
Poor diet (inflammatory, processed foods, refined sugar)
Excessive plastic usage (water bottles, packaged foods, BPA-laden cans, cooking in teflon pans)
How to Treat Estrogen-Dominance
Luckily enough, there are opportunities to treat estrogen excess:
Detox and love on your liver, especially with fiber-rich foods (shoot for 25 grams), as well as liver-supporting nutrients (sulfur-rich foods, vitamin C and cruciferous veggies)
Nourish and treat your microbiome (eliminate inflammatory, processed foods and foods you’re sensitive to, buy organic produce as often as you can, eat sauerkraut, kimchi and other probiotic-rich foods, as well as consume a high-quality probiotic supplement, and digestive enzyme
Remove endocrine-disrupting chemicals from your products (cleaning and beauty) and switch to products that are actually natural (“natural” on a label doesn’t necessarily mean it’s natural). Use the “Think Dirty” app, or the EWG Skin Deep database to check products.
Stress less, seriously. Find different outlets to manage stress and reduce cortisol (exercise, meditation, mindfulness, gratitude, relaxation, sleep, etc).
Speaking of… 7-8 hour of high-quality sleep, a night!
Drink my Estrogen-Detox Green Smoothie (recipe below)!
Estrogen-Detox Green Smoothie
1 small head romaine
2 cups spinach
1 cucumber (peeled)
4 stalks celery
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP flaxseed
1/2 cup water
1 tsp fresh ginger
1/2 cup fruit of choice (my favorite is mango or apple)
Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until fully-processed. Since this is a lot, usually I add in a few ingredients at a time, blend, and make room for the rest. Usually, this makes 32 oz, which can be used for multiple days. Just store, tightly, with lid, in fridge, for up to five days.