Estrogen Dominance and Women’s Well-BeingJul 30, 2021 ● By Cristina Madine
Photo credit drazen – stock.adobe.com
One in 10 women experiences depression at least once in their lifetime in the United States, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. A majority of women are also unsatisfied with their bodies, especially when it comes to their periods, and premenstrual syndrome is so severe for some that it interferes with daily life. They miss work, school, social activities and have problems in relationships.
Estrogen plays a crucial role in women’s emotional health and well-being, and estrogen dominance may be the culprit behind mood swings and painful periods. Estrogen helps control the cycles through childbearing and menopause, keeps cholesterol in check, affects mood and helps libido and sleep.
“It’s clear that estrogen is closely linked with women’s emotional well-being. Depression and anxiety affect women in their estrogen-producing years more often than men or postmenopausal women. Estrogen is also linked to mood disruptions that occur only in women—premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and postpartum depression,” says Nivin Todd, M.D.
Estrogen dominance occurs when the body continually produces estrogen in excess compared to progesterone. Estrogen is supposed to be at its peak during the follicular phase, but only for a few days. If estrogen is dominant for a longer time, it can create further imbalances elsewhere.
Two or more of these symptoms may signify estrogen dominance: constant headaches or migraines; water retention and bloating; gaining weight in the lower body; ovarian cysts; oily hair and skin; fibroids; acne; polycystic ovary syndrome or endometriosis; tender and painful breasts; hair loss; random mood swings; heavy flow during periods; painful cramps before and during periods; or irregular periods.
How to Balance Estrogen
Begin a detox by eliminating certain foods and beverages and replacing them with healthier options that support the liver and kidneys. Avoiding foods high in processed fat, sugar and salt, and focusing more on fresh, whole foods rich in fiber helps the liver and kidneys not work so hard. Also, it is crucial that elimination means regularly having bowel movements and urination. It is important to note that detox does not imply a starvation diet or juicing—it is mostly about nourishing the body with healthy foods such as green, leafy vegetables (they are hormone helpers), onions/leeks and cruciferous veggies. The fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in all vegetables help support good health and hormone balance.
The skin is the largest organ, and it’s a key player in the hormone and detoxification realm. Besides urine and stool, waste is excreted through sweat. Exercise, saunas and warm mineral baths are other good ways to induce healthy sweating. Reduce endocrine disruptors like plastics, pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, fertilizers, antibiotics and hormones. Beware of makeup and other items for the skin. Detergents may have endocrine-disrupting chemicals. An easy swap is eco-friendly, natural detergents free from perfumes and dyes.
Think of menstruation as the fifth vital sign. It is an incredible, real-time health test. The key is to know what it says about our current state of health. “Your period is an excellent hormonal self-evaluation tool. It’s like getting lab work done every month that gives you an immediate heads-up about any hormonal imbalances,” says Alisa Vitti in her book, In the FLO: Unlock Your Hormonal Advantage and Revolutionize Your Life. Most women don’t even know what a healthy period is or how it looks. Learning about menstruation more in-depth may help those suffering from pain and other uncomfortable symptoms that prevent many from enjoying life. Knowing the difference between a healthy period and not can truly help empower women to be advocates on their next doctor’s appointment.
Health is more than the food we eat. It is also important to take stock in other areas of life where there is an imbalance. Women, especially, take on too much. Take time to evaluate and make the appropriate adjustments. Focus on small changes for ensured success.
There is countless data that confirm what
we already know—women are suffering. However, armed with knowledge, we can
change that paradigm. Taking steps to balance hormones, reduce toxins and kick
natural detox responses into gear may take some time. Always consult a doctor
before implementing any changes. A doctor will more fully assess health and
order labs for a woman’s hormone levels. Once on the way to hormonal balance,
an improved menstrual cycle, women will feel like they can enjoy life again.