By Paria Vaziri
High Estrogen & How to Naturally Tackle It
If you’re a menstruator and you’ve been struggling with PMS, chances are you’ve heard of the term estrogen dominance!
Let’s break down exactly what that term means, what contributes to it, how it shows up, and some natural ways to tackle it.
What is estrogen?
Estrogen is one of our major sex hormones that helps regulate our hormonal cycle and also plays a role in different aspects of our health including development of secondary sex characteristics, pregnancy, cell growth, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, bone health, skin and hair health, cardiovascular health, and more.
Estrogen fluctuates throughout the cycle depending on what phase we are in. During menstruation (aka your period) estrogen is low then it rises during the follicular phase and once it hits a certain threshold, it will induce ovulation. Once we enter the luteal phase after ovulation, estrogen starts to drop as progesterone rises.
And there’s not just one estrogen!
It’s important to note that there’s more than just one type of estrogen. In fact, there are 3 different types!
- Estrone (E1): Some E1 is produced by ovaries, but we see a lot more of this produced by adipose tissue in post menopausal women
- Estradiol (E2): This is the most dominant and strongest form of estrogen during our reproductive years. It’s made in our ovaries and is important in regulating our menstrual cycle
- Estriol (E3): This is our dominant form of estrogen during pregnancy and plays a big role down the road in growth of milk ducts
What does estrogen dominance mean?
Estrogen dominance is a big buzz word. When we’re evaluating it, there’s no perfect ratio of estrogen to progesterone that we’re striving for and we’re expected to have fluctuating levels of estrogen during our cycle. The more accurate way to look at it and phrase it is that we have chronically elevated levels of estrogen that can leave us feeling crappy.
So what are some of the causes that drive this chronically elevated estrogen picture?
When we’re assessing high levels of estrogen, it’s important to differentiate if we have too much material to start with, if the issue is sluggish clearance of the estrogen from the body, or a combination of the two.
When we’re looking at too much estrogen to being with, some factors to evaluate include exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, certain medications, and obesity.
When we’re looking at sluggish clearance from the body, we want to look deeper into potential impaired liver detoxification, poor gut health, dietary factors, impaired thyroid function, and genetic factors involving COMT and MTHFR.
This is why it’s really important to work with a provider if you suspect you have hormonal imbalances so that they can help you get down to what exactly is driving high estrogen and tackle it at the root cause.
What are some signs and symptoms that could indicate high estrogen?
High estrogen can contribute to numerous symptoms including:
⁃ Heavy periods
⁃ Painful periods
⁃ Breast tenderness
⁃ Fibrocystic breast changes
⁃ Water retention and bloating
⁃ Mood swings
⁃ Headaches or migraines
⁃ Hair loss
How do I support healthy estrogen levels?
Now let’s dive into the fun stuff - what steps can be taken to optimize estrogen?
As always, building a strong foundation of health is going to be a great step.
So taking a look back into contributing factors to high estrogen, this means some key areas to focus in on include:
- Reducing exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. A good place to start would be to swap out plastic water bottles in favor of glass or stainless steel, using glass tupperware instead of plastic, avoiding handling receipts (which are coated in BPA!), and opting for cleaner home and personal care products.
- Eat a hormone supportive diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables (especially cruciferous veggies), fiber, healthy fats, and quality sources of protein.
- Seed cycling is a wonderful food based method to get in essential nutrients that are supportive of the different phases of your cycle. During the follicular phase of the cycle, flax seed and pumpkin seed is used to and in the luteal phase of the cycle, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are used. For an easy method to get the proper amount of seeds in daily, you can set up a monthly subscription with MONA seeds - on the go packets that deliver your daily dose delivered straight to your home! Click here to learn more about MONA seeds and use the code PARIA2022 for 15% off!
- Support your gut health! Daily bowel movements are important in helping clear out excess estrogen from the body. Support for the gut can include staying well hydrated, eating adequate fiber, daily movement, diversifying and rotating your fruits and vegetables, and eating more fermented foods (or opting for a high quality probiotic).
- Support the liver by reducing alcohol and processed foods in favor of upping liver supportive foods like cruciferous vegetables, beets, garlic, onion, grapefruit, glutathione rich foods, etc.
- Practice daily stress management techniques such as meditation, journaling, creative expression, and more.
If you feel like you’ve nailed the foundations of health and things still aren’t moving in the right direction, this would be the ideal time to bring in support with supplements and herbs. Some specifics that have been shown in studies to work well in rebalancing estrogen levels include DIM, Vitex, magnesium, B vitamins, and adaptogens.
Always remember that when it comes to supplementing, it’s advised to work with a provider to ensure that you are taking the correct supplement at the correct dose!
If you’re ready to take that next step and really get down to the root of what’s driving your period concerns, click here to book a free discovery call with Dr. Paria!