One of the most frequent concerns that I hear from my patients is suspicion of a hormonal imbalance. It’s easy to have a love / hate relationship with our hormones; can’t live with ‘em – can’t live without them! Ask a woman in menopause what it’s like to have too little estrogen, or hear from a friend who has PCOS how too much testosterone can negatively affect her body.
Today, I am focusing all of my attention on estrogen. A short list of it’s duties include: building up endometrial tissue in the uterus, protecting our mood, brain and heart, and keeping our vaginal tissue moisturized and pH balanced. Estrogen is so important to the female body – but we need to keep it in check! Trust me, you can have too much of a good thing. Symptoms of estrogen dominance are: irregular or heavy menstrual cycles, water retention, fibrocystic / tender breasts, mood swings, hair loss, thyroid dysfunction, foggy thinking, fatigue, PMS – just to name a few.
It’s important to understand that our hormone levels are not static. When a woman’s menstrual cycle is normal, estrogen is the dominant hormone for the first two weeks leading up to ovulation. Estrogen then becomes balanced by a surge of progesterone during the last two weeks of the cycle. Unfortunately, this hormonal symphony can be disrupted if the ratio between estrogen and progesterone is out of tune. To understand if this hormonal imbalance is taking place, a simple blood or saliva test can be performed on a specific day of your cycle. Your provider will determine which method of hormonal testing is right for you.
Here are some practical ideas to keep your hormones in sync:
- Eat lots of fiber. Estrogen is excreted by your bowel; if stool is not properly and frequently excreted, estrogen will be re-absorbed.
- Detoxify your liver. Sweat. Utilize an infrared sauna or ask your provider if you are a candidate for a focused 7-21 day liver detox.
- Eat the highest quality food your budget allows. Factory farmed animals are high in estrogen containing growth hormones. Look for grass fed meats and organic dairy.
- Learn to love your veggies. Studies show indole-3-carbinol (I3C) – prevalent in the cruciferous veggie family have been found to alter estrogen metabolism – thus protecting against hormone-dependent cancers. Need help managing your nutrition? Contact our Registered Dietitian for a consultation.
- Decrease stress.
- Assess the quality and ingredient list of personal care products to avoid xenoestrogens.
Hope Placher, MMS, PA-C, IFMCP