Teeter totter with estrogen on one side and the other side is empty with a text bubble saying what is estrogen dominance?

Estrogen dominance is a clinical phenomenon that may affect a woman at any point during her life. Although estrogen is generally considered the main, beneficial female sex hormone, there is such a thing as too much; this is referred to as estrogen dominance.

A Review of Estrogen Metabolism

Estrogen is not one singular molecule floating around in your blood. In fact, there are various forms of it. Metabolism is the process of converting estrogens from one form to another. This process happens in the liver and gut.

The images below summarizes some of the metabolites.

diagram explaining estrogen hormone metabolism showing the different forms of estrone, the good and the bad ones.
diagram explaining estrogen hormone metabolism showing the different metabolites of estradiol, including the good and bad ones

For an in-depth review of the concept of estrogen metabolism, please click here.

As you see in the diagram above, some estrogens are good; others are bad. Click here to learn more about what makes estrogen good or bad.

To review, a good estrogen is one which has weak, regulated actions throughout your body. A ‘bad’ estrogen is one that has a strong, uncontrolled effect on your body.

The videos below review these subtle differences between good and bad estrogens.

What is Estrogen Dominance?

Estrogen dominance simply describes a scenario when a woman (or man) has a relative excess of estrogen, in comparison to the other hormones such as progesterone, testosterone and DHEA. This phenomenon is even worse when that person has a lot of the ‘bad’ estrogen.

Estrogen Dominance and Disease

Estrogen is usually thought of in terms of menstrual irregularities. Since a woman’s menstrual cycle is dependent on sex hormones, including estrogen, estrogen dominance is often a culprit.

Estrogen doesn’t just have one role, it's crucial to managing blood sugar, immune function, bone health, heart health, fertility and brain function [1].

High estrogen is associated with:

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Inflammation
  • PCOS
  • Endometriosis
  • Gastric cancer
  • Pituitary cancer
  • Thyroid carcinoma and adenomatous goiter
  • Schizophrenia
  • Autoimmune Disease
  • Male hypogonadism and oligospermia
  • Gynecomastia
  • Obesity
  • Prostate cancer
  • Alcohol use
  • Drug use: marijuana, heroin, cannabis, methadone, amphetamines,
  • Bisphenol A (BPA)
  • Cosmetic products (fragrance compounds)
  • Antidepressant use (diazepam)

 

Signs and Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance

 

  • Sex drive
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Bloating (water retention)
  • Breast swelling/tenderness
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue

As you can see, this list is long and somewhat non-specific; and people can present with any combination of these signs and symptoms. It takes a trained healthcare provider to properly assess and diagnose estrogen dominance. Naturopathic doctors can use clinical presentations to guide their assessment but ultimately, certain tests can be performed which look at the sex hormones and their metabolites to figure out the extent of the hormone dysregulation and subsequent treatment.

How to Treat Estrogen Dominance

We can influence the metabolism of estrogen through various natural ingredients and products as well as easy dietary changes.

Discuss these matters with your naturopathic doctor.

References

Interested in learning more?

Read on in our series of articles on Hormone Health!

About the Author - Dr. Johann de Chickera

Dr. Johann de Chickera is a naturopath at Absolute Health and Wellness in Paris Ontario

Dr. Johann is a licensed naturopathic doctor and co-owner of Absolute Health and Wellness. He completed his 4-year degree at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). His clinical focus lies in chronic disease, such as those related to the Gastrointestinal, Endocrine, and Immune Systems.

His approach to medicine relies on working with the patient to come up with a feasible, multi-factorial approach that addresses all complaints at once. He employs a strong background in diagnostic medicine and human physiology and pathology to diagnose and treat. His treatment involve a combination of nutritional counselling, botanical medicine, eastern medicine (acupuncture), nutraceutical supplementation and hands on physical medicine.

To book in please call us at (519) 442-2206 or click here.

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