The Unknown Epidemic of Estrogen Dominance May 24, 2017
One of the most common (yet severely under-diagnosed) types of hormone imbalance is "estrogen dominance." Dr. Randolph and our clinical team firmly believe that estrogen dominance is an unrecognized epidemic in modern life. Estrogen dominance can short-circuit your internal remote control physically, emotionally, and mentally! Symptoms include fatigue, depression, low libido/poor sex drive, mood swings/increased irritability, PMS, hot flashes, night sweats, headaches/migraines, abdominal weight gain, insomnia, osteoporosis, irregular bleeding, and bloating. Women and men with this condition may have normal, deficient, or excess levels of estrogen, yet at the same time, significantly low levels of progesterone. Without enough progesterone to balance the effects of estrogen, negative symptoms and significant health problems can arise.
“‘Estrogen dominance’ means that the ratio of estrogen to progesterone in the body is disproportionately high.”
To understand how estrogen dominance works, imagine this: the production of estrogen and progesterone operate like sides of a seesaw, shifting up and down during a woman's monthly cycle. When progesterone gets low, that side of the seesaw hits the ground, and negative symptoms arise: poor sleep, fatigue, anxiety, heavy periods, weight gain, uterine fibroids, and irritability. When the progesterone side of the seesaw gets "stuck" on the ground, the estrogen side is "elevated," relatively speaking. It's not (necessarily) that your estrogen is high -- it's that your progesterone levels drop so low that estrogen effectively "dominates." As men get older, falling progesterone levels lead to a drop in testosterone levels. As both progesterone and testosterone decline, these levels are not enough to balance out the circulating estrogen, and men also become "estrogen dominant.”
Untreated estrogen dominance has been clinically linked to an increased risk of breast and uterine cancers, osteoporosis, low thyroid, and dementia. Estrogen dominance is a serious health concern. A more comprehensive list of symptoms includes:
- weight gain (especially abdominal weight)
- low libido (low sex drive)
- mood swings
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- tender/fibrocystic breasts
- bone loss
- irregular bleeding
- hair loss
- brain fog
- cold hands and feet (related to thyroid problems)
Disease risks from untreated estrogen dominance include:
- breast, uterine and ovarian cancers
- heart disease
- blood clots and strokes
- dementia/Alzheimer’s disease
Estrogen dominance has a widespread effect on body because we have estrogen receptors from head to toe. The word "estrogen" is really shorthand for a group of several different but related hormones that perform similar functions within the body: Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2), and Estriol (E3). Estrogen circulates through the bloodstream and fits estrogen receptors throughout the body: in women, it affects not only the breasts and uterus, but also the brain, bone, liver, heart, and other tissues. Estrogen controls growth of the uterine lining during the first part of the menstrual cycle, causes changes in the breasts during adolescence and pregnancy, and regulates various other metabolic processes, including bone growth and cholesterol levels. Estrogen also plays a role for men in supporting healthy cholesterol, brain function, and bone health. In women, estrogen is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat tissues. Men produce estrogen in the testes through a process involving an enzyme called aromatase that transforms testosterone into Estradiol (E2).
“Estrogen dominance can short-circuit your internal remote control physically, emotionally, and mentally.”
When all three "sex hormones," estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, are in optimal balance, you feel healthy and energetic. Estrogen dominance is the inevitable result of your aging body's inability to produce hormones efficiently. However, lifestyle factors can also throw your hormones out of balance. Due to the added influence of "environmental" estrogens, hormonal fluctuations can occur for women and men at any age. Daily exposure to “xenoestrogens,” (man-made environmental estrogens) can accelerate the aging process, and/or create a condition of estrogen dominance at an earlier age. Xenoestrogens are found in certain pesticides, petrochemicals, herbicides, plastics, fuels, car exhausts, and drugs, as well as phthalates, or plastic-softening chemicals, which enter the body and add to the “estrogen load”. There are many surprising sources of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals in products we use every day, from cosmetics and deodorants; synthetic perfumes (in dryer sheets, scented candles, etc); canned foods; conventionally produced meat and dairy; pesticides in vegetables and fruit; high-mercury fish; cleaning products, and more. You can limit your exposure to xenoestrogens as much as possible by avoiding/limiting pesticide use, choosing natural cosmetic and cleaning products, and eating un- (or low) processed foods. Lifestyle choices can also contribute: getting too little exercise, too little sleep, and too much stress can increase and accelerate estrogen load and thus estrogen dominance.
“Untreated estrogen dominance has been clinically linked to an increased risk of breast and uterine cancers, osteoporosis, low thyroid, and dementia.”
The best high-impact solution to resolve estrogen dominance in women and men is balancing estrogen levels with bioidentical progesterone cream. A "bioidentical" progesterone treatment is chemically identical to the kind your body naturally produces! Bioidentical progesterone is derived from a plant molecule found in wild yam, which is synthesized to be identical to naturally produced hormones. The synthesizing process ensures that these hormones have the exact molecular structure and duplicate the exact same function as the hormones made by your body. When you use bioidentical hormones, the cells of your body recognize them as familiar and know how to put them to best use.
Bioidentical hormones are safe because, like your own hormones, they fit perfectly into the hormone receptor “locks” of the cells in the body where they do their work. And because they have a 100 percent “relative binding affinity” (RBA) for your internal hormone receptor sites, they do not trigger side effects. Just as the key to your car fits perfectly into the ignition and sparks the engine when turned, bioidentical hormones fit into your body’s hormone receptor locks and spark exactly the same response as the hormones produced in your ovaries, testes, adrenal glands, or hypothalamus. The objective is to replace or rebalance hormones that are deficient or in excess, in order to restore optimum hormone balance. Bioidentical progesterone allows your hormone "seesaw" to shift back into equilibrium again, relieving or eliminating your symptoms.
Many people have found relief from their symptoms with Dr. Randolph's over-the-counter formulation of Natural Balance Progesterone Cream (for women and for men). However, for more severe hormone imbalances, the best approach is to have your hormone levels checked. Our clinicians evaluate your health and lifestyle issues, check your hormones with a simple blood test, and write prescriptions for exactly the hormones that YOUR body needs. Restoring hormone balance is intricate endocrinology, and often there are several imbalances at play. Each bioidentical hormone formulation we offer is compounded at our on-site pharmacy and can be picked up or shipped as needed.