Estrogen dominance is at an all-time high. Women are feeling tired, facing period problems, dealing with more disruptive estrogen dominance symptoms earlier and earlier in life, and are desperate for solutions. Especially because so many women are needlessly falling victim to diseases like diabetes, heart attack, and cancer later in life as a result of unopposed estrogen.
And yet, we have been led to believe that at the earliest symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, they should run out and get hormone replacement. Which only delays and/or exacerbates the symptoms until something worse comes along.
While it’s true that estrogen levels decrease during menopause, the truth is, estrogen levels do not fall significantly until after a woman’s last period.
In fact, far more women suffer from estrogen dominance symptoms during the transition to menopause in perimenopause. I call it the perimenopause spectrum because symptoms can vary by the person (and even by the day), and estrogen dominance is one of the main causes.
There’s a LOT to unpack in the blog!
MY BATTLE WITH ESTROGEN DOMINANCE
Full disclosure, I had estrogen dominance in my late 30s.
How did I know?
After three months of heavy periods, migraines, and breast tenderness accompanied by severe PMS symptoms, I knew that my estrogen levels were higher than progesterone, causing my symptoms. These symptoms are always obvious signs for me to focus on supporting my liver and gut function (I’ll share more on that below).
Are you there, too? Have you looked at yourself recently and wondered, “Where did I go? What happened to my energy, ability to sleep, predictable mood and period, etc.?”
If that describes where you are, you are not alone. Women over 35 are dealing with an epidemic of estrogen dominance, and it’s taking its toll on your productivity, your energy, your motivation, and your body.
This is something you do NOT want to ignore.
The heavy bleeding, painful periods, fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, migraines, etc. are your body’s way of sending a signal that something is not right. If you just “push through it” or try to counteract it with more hormones, it’s likely to lead to something WAY more serious down the line, like breast or uterine cancer.
That’s why it’s so important to pin this down NOW before it gets to that point, and while you can still address it naturally.
WHAT IS ESTROGEN DOMINANCE?
Put simply, estrogen dominance is a higher concentration of estrogen to progesterone in your body.
Estrogen is a hormone that is stimulating, while progesterone is its calming counterpart. When your body carries excess estrogen, or if you are lacking progesterone, this balance is thrown off and the extra estrogen concentration leads to a whole host of symptoms that leave you exhausted, bloated, and miserable.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON ESTROGEN DOMINANCE SYMPTOMS?
If you are 35 or older and expect estrogen dominance may be an issue for you, take some time to go through the following list of symptoms and see which you identify with.
- Irritability, mood swings, and emotional roller coasters
- Weight gain around your belly or hips
- Fibrocystic, painful or swollen breasts
- Trouble falling (and staying) asleep
- Crushing all-day fatigue and feeling constantly drained
- Heavy, painful, and irregular periods
- Digestive issues and bloating
- Brain fog, concentration, and memory issues
- Headaches or migraines (especially around your period)
- Uterine fibroids
- Restlessness, especially in your legs at night
- Miscarriages in the 1st trimester, infertility, or subfertility (not being able to sustain a pregnancy)
- Heavy, painful periods
- Bloating or water retention
- Irregular periods or periods becoming shorter
- Hot flashes
- Dry, sagging skin
- Spider or varicose veins and cellulite
- PMS that has increased in severity
- Gallbladder problems
- Vaginal dryness
Now that I listed the key estrogen dominance symptoms to be on the lookout for, how did you do?
Now you might be thinking… That is a LONG list of possible symptoms.
And I get it.
But if you’re experiencing just two or more of those right now and you’re over 35, odds are… You’re already estrogen dominant.
How can you be sure?
You can test for estrogen dominance on a simple DUTCH test in your own home. This is by FAR the best test you can get.
There are three different measures that you should check:
- Progesterone to Estradiol (E2) ratio: This is the most common scenario. In this situation, you simply have too much estrogen as compared to progesterone. You can even potentially have low estrogen but still be estrogen dominant, due to progesterone being too low as well.
- Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2), and Estriol (E3) ratio: These are the three types of estrogen in your body. E1 and E2 are more “aggressive,” while E3 is “protective.” If your levels of E1 and E2 are not adequately balanced out by E3, the effects lead to all of the symptoms I just listed out above.
- Estrogen metabolites: When your body breaks down estrogen, it releases metabolites that should be expelled from your body. However, sometimes the system breaks down and your liver doesn’t do a good enough job of metabolizing the estrogens. Then the liver releases a “dirty” metabolite called 16 hydroxy-estrone. If you find this metabolite in your testing, you will know something has gone wrong in your liver’s detox pathways.
WHAT DO YOU DO NEXT?
If you identify with several of the symptoms in the brief assessment above, it’s time to start taking steps to heal your body. I definitely recommend working with a functional doctor to have your hormone levels checked, or you can order your own at-home DUTCH test and have a trusted doctor walk through your results with you.
While blood, saliva, and urine tests can help nail down a diagnosis, you need to listen to your body. If something feels off, it probably is.
There’s no need to have a definitive diagnosis before you begin addressing your estrogen dominance symptoms naturally.
Even if some of these symptoms have been around for a long time and you are not even sure what is causing them…
Even if you have been told what you’re feeling is “normal for your age” (which it doesn’t have to be)…
Even if these symptoms are just beginning, please don’t ignore them…
THE TOP 8 MOST COMMON ESTROGEN DOMINANCE SYMPTOMS AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO FIX THEM
#1 – Mood Swings and Emotional Rollercoasters (the mother of ALL estrogen dominance symptoms!)
When you have estrogen dominance, the balance of neurotransmitters in your brain may be affected, leading to mood swings and emotional fluctuations.
Estrogen influences the production and activity of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which play significant roles in regulating emotions.
These hormonal fluctuations can make you feel irritable, teary, or overly sensitive to even minor stressors.
How to fix it:
Mood swings and emotional changes can be regulated with the addition of certain supplements or adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha and Maca Root.
#2 – Stubborn Weight Gain
Weight gain– particularly around the hips and thighs– is a common sign of estrogen dominance and probably the one that we ALL know the most about.
Estrogen influences fat distribution in the body, and when levels are elevated, your body may preferentially store fat in these areas.
Additionally, high estrogen levels can lead to insulin resistance, which further promotes fat storage. Insulin resistance is when your cells don’t recognize how to appropriately use insulin which leads to high blood sugar and a host of other health issues.
How to fix it:
To combat stubborn weight gain, it is ESSENTIAL to incorporate cruciferous vegetables into your diet, like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts promote estrogen detoxification,
#3 – Breast Tenderness and Swelling (the most overlooked of all estrogen dominance symptoms)
Fluctuating estrogen levels can lead to breast tenderness and swelling, especially during your period.
Estrogen stimulates the growth of breast tissue and increases fluid retention in the breasts. This causes SERIOUS discomfort and sensitivity.
How to fix it: Incorporate more chia seeds into your diet–which are loaded with fiber and special compounds that can help you eliminate estrogen more effectively.
#4 – Insomnia and Disrupted Sleep Patterns
Estrogen dominance can interfere with the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin, leading to insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns. Estrogen affects the production of melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
How to fix it:
To promote restful sleep, consume magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. Magnesium plays a crucial role in supporting the production of melatonin and promoting relaxation. You’ll also want to supplement with a powerful form of melatonin, which you can find here.
#5 – Fatigue and Low Energy Levels
Excess estrogen can disrupt adrenal gland function, leading to fatigue and low energy levels. The adrenal glands produce hormones like cortisol, which are essential for energy regulation and stress response.
High estrogen levels can interfere with this delicate hormonal balance, leading to high estrogen symptoms like fatigue and constantly feeling drained.
How to fix it:
To boost energy levels, consider incorporating adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola and Ginseng into your daily routine.
#6 – Heavy and Irregular Menstrual Periods (possibly the most dirsuptive AND obvious of all estrogen dominance symptoms)
Estrogen dominance can lead to irregular menstrual cycles with heavy bleeding.
When estrogen levels are high relative to other hormones like progesterone, it can disrupt the normal menstrual cycle, leading to irregular periods and heavy flow.
How to fix it:
Try Chasteberry (also known as Vitex) for its hormone-balancing properties to reverse excess estrogen. Chasteberry can help regulate menstrual cycles and reduce discomfort associated with high estrogen levels. Here’s what I recommend.
#7 – Brain Fog and Forgetfulness
Research shows estrogen receptors are present throughout the brain, impacting cognitive function and memory.
Fluctuating estrogen levels can lead to frustrating high estrogen symptoms like brain fog, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating.
How to fix it:
To enhance brain health and improve memory, consume omega-3 fatty acids. You could also add this powerhouse brain supplement to your regimen.
#8 – Digestive Issues and Bloating (one of the least-known, but most problematic of all estrogen dominance symptoms)
Estrogen can influence gut motility, harm the balance of gut bacteria, and disrupt gut health, which often leads to disruptive bloating and digestive discomfort.
How to fix it:
Incorporate more fermented foods to promote healthy gut flora and ease bloating. Foods like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir contain natural probiotics that support gut health and aid digestion.
Now that you’ve had more clarity that estrogen dominance NEEDS to be an area of focus for your body AND I’ve given you few hacks to jumpstart your healing, it is absolutely worth exploring the biggest root causes that got you here:
- Toxic exposure and a sluggish liver
- Gut issues
- Chronic stress
THE BOTTOM LINE
It’s by identifying what’s contributing to YOUR individual case of estrogen dominance that you’ll be able to find healing.
If you’ve seen yourself in the list of symptoms in this post, it’s time to start healing your body from the inside out. It’s time to get your energy back. It’s time to start sleeping better, having less painful periods, feeling better, and getting back to yourself again.
This transformation is possible.