Estrogen Dominance…6 Root Causes That Are Easy to Miss

Estrogen Dominance…6 Root Causes That Are Easy to Miss

Estrogen dominance is very common these days,but that DOES NOT make it normal.  Our modern world creates the perfect environment for estrogen to take over.  It may seem impossible, but you can do something about it.  Yes, YOU can!  You just have to know what is causing estrogen dominance in you specifically.  There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to addressing estrogen dominance.  I know because I spent years trying to figure out what was causing estrogen dominance in my own body.  Different doctors told me what to do, but nothing was helping.  That’s because no one was addressing the root cause.

I work with a lot of women dealing with the symptoms of estrogen dominance.  Things like PMS, heavy or irregular periods, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, brain fog, mood swings, depression, irritability, low libido, histamine intolerance, fibroids, endometriosis, thyroid problems, gall bladder issues, and blood sugar issues.  Any of these sound familiar?

Many things can contribute but here is a list of the top causes I see with my clients

1. Gut dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance)

Your gut and hormones are absolutely connected.  Glucuronidation is one of the major phase 2 detoxification pathways in the liver that helps us eliminate hormones from the body.  An enzyme called beta glucuronidase can block this detoxification process, which can cause your hormones (including estrogen) to get reabsorbed, reactivated, and put back into circulation.  Beta glucuronidase is produced by imbalanced intestinal bacteria.

So to address the cause, you need to lower this enzyme by balancing your gut bacteria.  Sorry to say it but simply taking a probiotic is usually not enough to re-balance the gut.  Get a good stool test, like the GI MAP, to address bacterial overgrowth.  The nice thing about the GI MAP is that it actually tests for the beta glucuronidase enzyme.  This result below was the first GI MAP I took…it showed over double what the lab considers normal!  In order to address the cause, I worked to re-balance my gut bacteria, which is a process that should be customized to you and your microbiome.

2. Poor liver detoxification (overall, phase 1, or phase 2?)  

If your liver is sluggish, then it will be difficult to clear estrogen from your body, no matter what.  We live in a pretty toxic world, which makes our livers work really hard.  The liver processes hormones to get them ready to be eliminated from the body.  If the liver is not functioning optimally, estrogen levels can be high because your body is not breaking it down and getting rid of it like it should.  It is important to know if there is a specific phase of liver detoxification where estrogen is getting backed up.  This information can help figure out what you need to do to address the cause.

If phase 1 of estrogen metabolism is stuck then a supplement like DIM can help but if that isn’t the problem, then you could be wasting your money on an unnecessary supplement or even cause estrogen to drop too low.

Phase 2 of estrogen detoxification is a process called methylation.  Genetically we might not be good at methylating properly, but we also depend on certain nutrients for this process to work correctly.  We need vitamin folate, B12, B6, and magnesium. If you are deficient, then that could be a contributing factor to your estrogen dominance.  These pathways can’t be tested using blood or saliva, but you can test them with urine, which is why I use DUTCH test by Precision Analytical with my clients.  So much more information!  Save yourself a lot of trouble and get tested instead of guessing.

3. Constipation

I talk about pooping all the time with my clients.  Your bowel movements can tell you a lot about your health.  When you are not having at least one bowel movement per day, when you are not eliminating fully, or when you are going and it looks like little pellets, then you are constipated.  Estrogen that should have been eliminated from the body in your stool is reabsorbed in the gut and re-circulates in the body.  It’s the gut’s responsibility to eliminate hormones.  Get to the root cause of your constipation.  Is it your thyroid, gut pathogens, motility issues, dehydration, low fiber, stress, or something else?  Start by increase your water intake.  You should be drinking at least half of your body weight in pounds in ounces of water per day (coffee and alcohol doesn’t count).  Then make sure you are eating enough fiber by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables.  If that doesn’t help then you may need to investigate further.  Test your thyroid and gut with functional lab testing.  Proper testing is key!

4.  Low progesterone

Estrogen dominance does not always equal high estrogen.  Estrogen can be at a normal level, but if progesterone is too low then you can still have estrogen dominance symptoms.  So why is progesterone low?  Not eating enough healthy fats, too low body weight, chronic stress, HPA axis dysfunction (AKA adrenal fatigue), gluten sensitivity, lack of ovulation, hypothyroidism, or high prolactin– these are just some causes of low progesterone.  It is all about getting to YOUR root cause.  A good practitioner should be able to help you with this investigation.  That is exactly what I do with my clients.

5.  Copper toxicity and Other Heavy Metals

We can become copper toxic in a variety of ways.  Hormonal birth control (pill, patch, ring), copper pipes, copper IUDs, hormone replacement therapy.  It can even be something that was passed to you in-utero from your mother.  Copper stimulates estrogen production and estrogen can increase copper; they are very connected.  When one goes up the other can follow.  In my practice I use hair mineral analysis testing to look for copper issues.  If you have looked at all the other factors and still can’t seem to find out what is causing your high estrogen, then it might be time to consider copper.

Other heavy metals like aluminum, mercury, and lead are also considered metalloestrogens, which means that they have the ability to mimic estrogen in the body.  Some metals are considered essential minerals, but if the concentration of these metals become too high, they can interfere with hormones.  These types of metals are much harder for the body to eliminate on its own.  I like to do a hair mineral analysis test with clients, especially when they are having a hard time addressing why their estrogen is high.

6.  Inflammation

Do you have a lot of inflammation in your body?  Maybe aches, pains, skin problems, joint discomfort, gut issues, heart problems, excess weight, inflamed gums in your mouth?  Do you have a lot of food sensitivities?  Have you been exposed to a lot of toxins?  Inflammation anywhere in your body can be a problem because it can drive up your production of cortisol (your stress hormone that can also be anti-inflammatory).  High cortisol can equal higher DHEA, which then can get made into testosterone and – yes-even estrogen.

These are the top root causes of estrogen dominance that I see in my practice.  It is also very possible to have more than one root cause.  This can be an overwhelming and sometimes complicated beat to tackle.  Working with someone that can help you navigate your root cause(s) and provide you with the best game plan to get your hormones back into balance can be very helpful.   When your hormones are balanced it is easier to maintain a healthy weight, have clear skin, have healthier periods, and slow down the aging process.  If you don’t have the ability to work with a professional, below are a couple things you can  start to do on your own.

What can you start doing today to help your estrogen?

 1.  Use safer beauty products. Toxic chemicals in conventional beauty products can be hormone disruptors.  These chemicals can act like hormones in your body and contribute to higher estrogen levels.  Beautycounter is my favorite safer beauty line!  Consider swapping out your shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, and makeup for non-toxic products.  Read my post Are Your Beauty Products Contributing to Hormone Imbalance for more info.

2.  Eat more veggies.  Things like cruciferous vegetables contain a compound that help to support phase 1 of estrogen detoxification.  Even raw carrots contain a beneficial fiber that helps to eliminate estrogen from your system.  Don’t forget your leafy green veggies that are a good source of folate and support phase 2 of estrogen detoxification.  These are easy things you can incorporate into your daily meals.

3.  Love your liver with castor oil packs. I wrote a whole post about it so go check it out here.

4.  Get enough sleep. Sleep is super critical for overall health and it is whenyour body does a lot of repair work.  Just two consecutive night of not sleeping well can negatively impact your cortisol levels.  And high cortisol can lead to high estrogen.  Get to bed by 10pm and work toward getting at least eight hours per night.

5.  Manage your stress. I can’t emphasis this one enough!  Stress is terrible for your hormones.  Stress negatively impacts your adrenal glands and cortisol levels, which makes it really hard to get your hormones back on track.  Deep breathing, getting out in nature, and a daily self-care ritual are my favorite ways to keep my stress in check.

Resolving estrogen dominance is a multi-factorial process including nutrition, lifestyle, proper detoxification, and healing other bodily systems like the adrenals and gut.

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As a Holistic Dietitian and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, I help clients get proper testing, assist in the process of reading those results using clinical correlation (treating the patient and not just the test results), and give them the proper tools (diet, supplements, and lifestyle) to start the healing process.

 

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