The term estrogen dominance was first used by the late Dr John Lee of the USA to refer to a state where estrogen is not being balanced by progesterone in a woman’s body. This is a particular problem approaching and at the menopause, although it can occur at much younger ages.
Estrogen is one of the two primary female hormones, the other being progesterone, and it is the increase in the levels of estrogen at puberty that leads to the characteristic changes that take place in the body at that time
When we refer to estrogen we are really referring to a group of the three most important and active hormones which are: oestradiol, oestrone and oestriol. The relative amounts of these three estrogens to each other vary at different times in a woman’s life and all three are secreted in the ovaries, adrenal glands, placenta and fatty tissue.
* During the reproductive years of a woman’s life estradiol, the strong estrogen, is being secreted in large quantities by the ovaries.
* Pregnancy changes the dominant estrogen to estriol which is produced by the placenta.
* During the Post-menopausal years the level of oestradiol decreases but the levels of oestrone and oestriol increase. At this time the estrogen is produced by conversion of androstenedione in fatty tissue.
Estrogen Dominance Can Occur At Any Age: Whatever a woman’s age may be, these estrogens need to be balanced by progesterone to prevent the benefits of estrogen being outweighed by its potential problems.
At the time of the pre-menopause and menopause when it is known that estrogen levels are falling it can be difficult to understand that a situation of estrogen dominance could be responsible for the problems that arise. What is forgotten is that as the menopause approaches, ovulation becomes less frequent and less efficient and at the menopause it stops altogether. As a result of this, the ovary does not produce progesterone and the estrogen is not balanced in the body. This also applies to women who have a forced early menopause after having a hysterectomy.
The actual levels of estrogen and progesterone are not important in themselves; it is the ratio of the levels of estrogen and progesterone to each other that matter. This means you can have estrogen dominance with both high levels of estrogen and with low levels. It all depends on the progesterone level as this is the key factor.
Identifying Estrogen Dominance: It is possible to diagnose estrogen dominance for yourself. You can see from the list below that most of the effects balance each other out. If you cover up the list of progesterone effects you can see what the effects of unbalanced estrogen are. If you are experiencing any, or all of these, then you may well have estrogen dominance.
Effects of Estrogen:
– Creates proliferation of the endometrium
– Stimulates breast tissue and tenderness
– Increases body fat
– Fluid retention
– Suppresses action of thyroid
– Increases blood clotting
– Decreases libido
– Interferes with blood sugar levels
– Reduces zinc and retention of copper
– Reduces cell oxygen
– Increases risk of endometrial cancer
– Increases risk of breast cancer
– Slows bone breakdown
Effects of Progesterone:
– Stabilises the endometrium
– Protects the breasts
– Helps break down fat
– Natural diuretic
– Facilitates thyroid function
– Normalises clotting mechanism
– Increases libido
– Stabilises blood sugar
– Normalises zinc and copper
– Restores cell oxygen
– Protects the endometrium
– Protects the breast
– Builds up bone
Estrogen dominance can occur at any age but it is more likely to occur in the years preceding and during the menopause. Altering your life style, eating a good wholefood diet, as well as taking herbs and nutritional supplements to restore the normal estrogen progesterone ratio can help alleviate it and certainly taking bio-identical natural progesterone is the most effective route.
An experienced practitioner can often diagnose estrogen dominance by listening to your symptoms and it can also be confirmed by doing a Saliva Hormone Test.