As I have always stated before, us ladies are a symphony of hormones. If one hormone is out of tune, it is quite apparent. However, sometimes it is hard to hear what instrument (hormone) is out of tune because when one hormone is out of balance, others seem to follow suit. So remember, it is not a good idea to fixate on one hormone being out of balance. It’s about balancing them as a whole.
Patients tell me all the time, ‘they have estrogen dominance.’ They read on the internet, and their symptoms fit ‘estrogen dominance.’ Yes, their symptoms do fit estrogen-dominance, but It does not mean their estrogen is the only hormone that is “off.”
I am going to go through some common ‘estrogen dominance symptoms’ that you might find on the internet. And I will explain what other hormones might be at work here besides estrogen. Later in another episode, I will delve into more detail, causation, and treatment to balance our hormones.
“My PMS is off the chain 7-10 days before my period!”. This is actually because the progesterone is too low compared to the estrogen level. It is not that estrogen is “too-high,” but because the progesterone failed to peak after ovulation or it dived too quickly before your period.
Fibrocystic breast tissue:
If your estrogen is high, it can cause dense breast tissue and fibrocystic breasts. Estrogen likes to “grow things.” So if estrogen is not balanced or is high, the breast tissue will thicken and can become fibrocystic. Also, caffeine can exacerbate or lead to fibrocystic breast tissue.
This is because the progesterone level is to low for the amount of estrogen. Your estrogen levels might be “normal,” but because the progesterone is lacking it cannot hold back the estrogen. So estrogen will continue to grow that uterine lining.
This again is because the progesterone is too low for the amount of estrogen. A drop in progesterone can cause hormonal headaches starting at 14 days before your period. If you have headaches the last half of your cycle, your progesterone might be too low.
Breast swelling and tenderness:
Estrogen can cause water weight. Our breast tissue is very sensitive to estrogen. So if your estrogen is high, it can cause water retention in the breast tissue, making them feel full, heavy and, tender.
Weight gain in the belly:
Female hormones can contribute to weight gain, but not by themselves. It happens via the connection that estrogen/progesterone has with insulin and cortisol. High levels of cortisol and insulin will cause fat to accumulate around the mid-section. When the progesterone is low, or estrogen is high, that can cause insulin and cortisol to elevate. This will make you gain weight and also make it hard to lose.
Feeling grumpy, snarky, irritable, weep, or sad. When the progesterone to estrogen balance is off, it can definitely affect our moods. If progesterone is low, that causes irritability. When you feel like everything it aggravating and you are quick to anger. That is low progesterone. If you feel weepy and nostalgic, that is high estrogen.
Decreased sex drive:
I think this is because the progesterone is too low and it makes us irritable. And us ladies do not want to have sex if we are angry or aggravated. High levels of estrogen do not drop the sex drive. Low levels of estrogen drop the sex drive. That is why sex flies out the window when we enter perimenopause or menopause.
Again, estrogen likes to “grow stuff.” If estrogen is high, it can also grow fibroids and polyps. It does seem to aggravate endometriosis.
Cold hands/feet, hair loss, foggy thinking, memory loss:
If you have any of these symptoms, then we want to look at your thyroid. Thyroid comes into play with estrogen and progesterone balance. If thyroid levels are low, that can cause progesterone to drop. This drop in progesterone will cause estrogen to become dominant. So low thyroid level can be the culprit of your estrogen-dominance symptoms/low progesterone symptoms. Also, I need to mention adrenal dysfunction.
These symptoms can be caused adrenal dysfunction. When your adrenal function is compromised, it can lead to a drop in progesterone, a rise in insulin and inappropriate cortisol secretion. That in it of itself can create an estrogen/progesterone imbalance.
Even symptoms of brain-fog, memory loss, and fatigue are related your adrenals, not just female hormones. Low memory can also be a symptom of low estrogen. So if you have any of these symptoms the thyroid and the adrenals are most likely your culprit.
This should be categorized as either trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep. Trouble falling asleep is usually from adrenal dysfunction. The cortisol is too high at night, and you cannot fall asleep.
Trouble staying asleep is from low progesterone. The low progesterone will cause you to wake in the middle of the night. Then your cortisol rises, so forget getting good sleep after that.
Estrogen retains water. So if your estrogen is high, it can cause water retention everywhere. From your stomach to your ankles, your face, your hands. Low progesterone can cause bloating. But low progesterone will cause the bloating more in your bowels and stomach.
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