Estrogen consists of three different hormones: estriol, estrone and estradol. It is manufactured by the body in the adrenal glands, fat cells, ovaries and in the placenta during pregnancy. Levels of estrogen are higher for women than men, however men can also experience low levels of estrogen.
This hormone gives women the female characteristics of breasts, body hair and fat distribution. Estrogen is responsible for menstruation, fertility and menopause. It controls the development of female reproductive tissues and keeps the breasts, urinary tract, uterus and blood vessels toned and flexible.
Somewhere around the late 30s to 40 years of age, hormone levels begin to fluctuate and decline. This can be controlled by supplementing with bioidentical hormones to achieve a balance of hormones in the body and by reducing one’s exposure to xenoestrogens, a good diet and exercise. Women can experience either low levels of estrogen or too much estrogen, a condition known as estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance can include: weight gain, depression, anxiety, breast tenderness, headaches, migraines, digestive problems, fuzzy thinking, and irregular periods. By contrast, the same symptoms can also indicate low estrogen. Problems experienced during perimenopause (the time prior to menopause) are also related to decreasing levels of progesterone. This situation can be also be created by exposure to xenoestrogen – toxins in the environment which then lead to estrogen dominance.
If one is experiencing estrogen dominance, it can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed, excessively emotional, physically bloated and depression. Estrogen dominance can lead to serious health issues because excess estrogen will lead to the development of cancerous cell growth.
Low estrogen levels can also present health problems and cause depression. Excess weight begins to accumulate around the waist as the body attempts to produce estrogen in the fat cells. Balancing your hormones in perimenopause and menopause is importan to health and wellbeing both for a man or a woman. Working with a doctor who has the knowledge and can prescribe bioidentical hormones will help to achieve this balance. Based on the physical and mental symptoms, blood or saliva tests to measure hormone levels (a hormone panel) and supplementing with the hormones that are needed is the method by which this is achieved. Estrogen supplementation must be accompanied by bioidentical progesterone supplementation to achieve biomimetic hormonal balance in the body.
Excess estrogen also creates deficiencies in B vitamins, zinc and magnesium, supplements that are necessary for hormonal balance. Consult with a nutritionist or naturopath to learn about nutritional supplementation for this new phase of life.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include:
- Acceleration of the rate of aging
- Allergies: including asthma, hives, rashes, congestion
- Autoimmune disorders: lupus erythematosis, thyroiditis
- Breast cancer
- Breast tenderness: fibrocystic breasts
- Cervical dysplasia
- Cold hands & feet
- Copper excess
- Low sex drive
- Depression, anxiety, mood swings
- Dry eyes
- Early menstruation
- Endometrial cancer
- Fat gain especially around the stomach & waist
- Foggy thinking
- Gallbladder disease
- Hair loss
- Increased blood clotting leading to higher risk of strokes
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Magnesium deficiency
- Memory loss
- Polycystic ovaries
- Premenopausal bone loss
- Prostate cancer
- Slow metabolism
- Thyroid dysfunction leading to hypothyroidism
- Uterine cancer
- Uterine fibroids
- Water retention, bloating
- Zinc deficiency