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Estrogen Dominance

In my last post the goal was to understand the role of estrogen within the body.  In case you missed it check it out here.  This post will explore a collection of symptoms relating to excess estrogen in the body, and the conditions estrogen dominance may be associated with.

To start things off lets look at external source of estrogen, now remember, your body makes the estrogen it needs for functioning, excess estrogen can come from your environment.

Animal sources – normal animal consumption provides some naturally occurring estrogen from that animal, additional concerns come when these animals are fed or injected with estrogen to increase fat or milk production.  Another is example is farmed fish, which may be a source of accumulated environmental estrogens (xenoestrogens – more on those later)

Environmental chemicals – in the form of pesticides, plastics, petrochemicals, detergents, cosmetics, solvents, chlorinated water, fire retardants among others are all forms of xenoestrogenes.

Synthetic estrogen – from birth control pills, fertility drugs or hormone replacement therapy all introduce estrogen into the body.

Xenoestrogens (also referred to as endocrine disruptors) are toxic compounds that modulate the endocrine and immune systems, resulting in alteration of homeostasis, reproduction, development and behaviour.

Photo Credit: http://momworksmd.com/

The liver is the organ that processes estrogen. From the liver, estrogen breakdown products are then passed into bile and through to the intestines to be excreted in the stool.  These estrogen breakdown products can be in several forms good (C2 metabolites), bad (C16 metabolites) or ugly (C4 metabolites).  The C4 type of estrogen metabolites become triggered by environmental irritants, pesticides, high fat diet, among others.

Some of the physical symptoms associated with estrogen dominance include: breast tenderness, headaches, swelling, sore nipples before menses, decreased sex drive, PMS, heavy menstrual flow with clots and cramps and/or irregular cycles.

Conditions that have been associated with estrogen dominance are weight gain, fibrocystic breast disease, migraines, endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts and breast cancer.

Although it is considered uncommon to have a progesterone deficiency, it often coexists with what appears to be estrogen dominance, due to the fact the progesterone hormone depleted.  A common source of progesterone deficiency in current society is chronic stress, resulting in elevated cortisol levels.  Progesterone is a steroid hormone that is used in making our stress hormone cortisol, so chronic stress essentially “steals” progesterone to manufacture cortisol.

Not to forget about the male population, they are not unaffected by xenoestrogens, and estrogen dominance symptoms are becoming more common in men.   These symptoms can be linked to low sex drive, impotency/erectile dysfunction, infertility, gynecomastia, or “man boobs”, weight gain, and enlarged prostate.

Naturopathic Medicine has a variety of different tools to inactivate these harmful estrogen metabolites and support optimal liver function.  There are food choices, and supplement options to help support clearance of these metabolites from the liver.  Traditional Chinese Medicine, and acupuncture are uniquely suited to create balance within the liver organ, both physically and energetically.

To find out more contact me for a visit, or find a local registered Naturopathic Doctor, to help support you in your journey to health.

Next post will focus on what happens when estrogen is deficient.

This post is for educational purposes only, and not meant to replace a visit with a health practitioner.

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