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How to spot oestrogen dominance and what to do about it.

Oestrogen is a female reproductive hormone, but is also produced in males. It plays an essential part in the female menstrual cycle. Less commonly known, Oestrogen also supports energy production, mental clarity and can give you that confident feeling. However just like most things in life, including kale, too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. When oestrogen builds up in the body it can lead to a host of negative health implications and symptoms.

What does oestrogen dominance mean?

Oestrogen dominance occurs when there is an excess of oestrogen compared to the other sex hormones within the body such as progesterone. As a result, a hormone imbalance develops and health problems can arise.

What can cause oestrogen dominance?

The perfect blend of excess production and exposure to endocrine disruptors and poor clearance of oestrogen. Just like a simple maths equation when we are over producing oestrogen and not removing it just as quickly this leads to a dominance.

Excess production can come from having underlying reproductive diseases such as endometriosis or PCOS. Being overweight as fat cells secrete oestrogen and having chronic high levels of inflammation.

Common endocrine disruptors

Endocrine disruptors are environmental toxins that disrupt the production and metabolism of our hormones. Causing an imbalance between our hormones and contributing to oestrogen dominance.

PESTICIDES & HERBICIDES

The food we eat is often sprayed with chemicals such as pesticides or herbicides.This is especially the case when it comes to large-scale farming that delivers to major supermarkets. It can be found in a number of food products including conventional grains, non-organic coffee beans, conventional legumes and lentils and even fruits and vegetables.. Glyphosate, in particular, has received a lot of attention from researchers as it has been associated with female cancers.

BEAUTY PRODUCTS

They may make you feel good on the outside but it’s what they are doing to your insides that creates concern. A vast majority of commercial beauty products contain xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body but create havoc to your endocrine system, throwing your hormonal balance out. The most commonly seen xenoestrogens include:

  • Parabens- this preservative is used in products ranging from skin to hair care.
  • Phthalates – used as an emulsifier and stabilizer found in topical products such as body lotion.
  • Benzophenones- an additive that alters both estrogen and testosterone productions. Commonly found in sunscreens.

Your skin is the biggest organ, so it’s no surprise that the products we use on your skin can easily be absorbed, having an effect on your hormones.

THE CONTRACEPTIVE PILL (BIRTH CONTROL)


Although a positive public health initiative, the contraceptive pill, tends to have a not so positive outcome for your hormones. A common case for prescribing the pill, along with many other reasons, is due to erratic PMS symptoms, irregular periods or heavy bleeding. All of which are a result of oestrogen dominance to begin with. Using the pill as a treatment for the above may mask the symptoms however, deep down it just adds to the excess oestrogen. Another factor to consider is how the pill is processed within the body. The pill contains synthetic progesterone which is released into the body, suppressing your natural production of progesterone to prevent you from falling pregnant. While this might sound like the perfect contraceptive solution, progesterone is required to balance oestrogen levels. Therefore, without progesterone, oestrogen levels are able to build up in the body, leading to oestrogen dominance.

What impairs the clearance of oestrogen?


The liver and our gut bacteria are responsible for the metabolism and clearance of oestrogen. If we don’t properly remove oestrogen it will be reabsorbed and lead to a build up. Having a gut bacterial imbalance from overuse of antibiotics or a poor diet will impair metabolism. Too much caffeine, alcohol, stress and toxic overload from exposure to heavy metals will all overload the liver. Meaning oestrogen cannot be removed by the liver efficiently.

What are the signs of oestrogen dominance? 

Estrogen dominance is more often seen in women however men can experience it as well. It can present differently for everyone, common symptoms include but aren’t limited to:

Women:

  • PMS symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Fluid retention
  • Weight gain (especially in the midsection and thighs)
  • Fibroids
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood swings symptoms

Men:

  • Enlarged breasts
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Infertility

If you’re sitting at your desk with your matcha almond latte mentally ticking off some of these symptoms, it is worth working with a health practitioner to further investigate. While these symptoms don’t necessarily equate to oestrogen dominance, there is no harm in finding out the root cause behind your symptoms. None of these symptoms listed above are normal and should not be ignored.

 

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How to reduce estrogen levels naturally? 

Know where your food is coming from

Be mindful when purchasing food that may have been exposed to pesticides and herbicides. Some produce is more likely to contain these chemicals. Do your research and opt for shopping at local grocery stores or farmers markets where you can. Talk to the traders and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the processing of their produce.

Use beauty products with naturally derived ingredients 

This one can be a tricky one for most people to adopt. It can be expensive to replace all your beauty products. You can start by replacing your products as you run out of your old ones. Beauty products are a very personal choice so trial out a few to see what suits you best. Reading the ingredients can be overwhelming.

A rule of thumb when purchasing beauty products, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, chances are its toxic. Another tip to look out for is the smell of the product. If it has a strong chemical or perfume smell, it is most likely going to alter your hormones. Obviously this does not apply for products fragranced with essential oil which tend to have a strong odour.

Create a mindful environment

As stress can play a huge role in hormone imbalance, it pays off to reduce stress where you can. Try incorporating activities that allow you to switch off and encourage progesterone to flourish. This may look different for everyone. Think yoga, walking, meditation, reading, sewing, gardening. Anything that brings you peace of mind and forces you to slow down.

Support detox pathways and reduce toxic load 

The liver works to remove toxins out of the body. Therefore, ensuring the liver is correctly functioning can assist in reducing excess oestrogen. Additionally be aware of reducing your overall exposure to toxins such as endocrine disruptors. This will, in turn, take the pressure off the liver.

Weigh up the pros and cons for the contraceptive pill 

Think about your reasons behind being on the pill. If you suspect you have an oestrogen dominance, discuss your options with a health practitioner. This is not to say you have to go off the pill however there are contraceptive alternatives with fewer hormonal side effects and other ways to support hormone balance while on the pill.

As oestrogen dominance can lead to serious health conditions, it is something to be aware of. There can be more than one contributing factor and each case may be unique.


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