Estrogen is a hormone that is usually associated with women, but both woman and men naturally produce estrogen hormones. Estrogen levels differ between the sexes, and both men and women are subject to estrogen imbalance with age. Think of it like a scale: if one side has more than what’s needed, it creates disorder in the form of unhealthy and unpleasant symptoms. Estrogen dominance occurs when estrogen levels are too high in either men or women.
What Is Estrogen And What Is It For?
Estrogen is one of the two major hormones produced in the adrenal glands, which are located at the top of the kidneys in men and in the ovaries in women. While men have more testosterone, women have a much higher amount of estrogen, hence its main function of developing the physical features in females and the reproductive system. Estrogen assists with developing breasts and causes hair growth in the pubic and underarm area, in addition to controlling a woman’s menstrual cycles. It also affects the body’s cholesterol levels, mood, and protects bone health in both men and women. It acts as a chemical messenger directing the body to act one way or another.
Estrogen Dominance In Women
As time passes and women become older, a surge in estrogen levels might come naturally, but it could impair your health if levels exceed far beyond what’s considered normal. The female body produces three types of estrogen, the most common being Estradiol, which is found in women of childbearing age. Estriol is the second form and it is found in women who are pregnant, and the third is estrone, which is found in post menopausal women when menstruation has ceased.
Women can become estrogen dominant when they consume too much processed meat, which has been injected with hormones to increase their size. Consuming liquids or foods from cans or bottles containing BPA can also cause estrogen levels to surge. Stress is another major cause of too much estrogen because the stress hormone, cortisol, weakens the body’s ability to rid itself of excess estrogen.
In general, a poor diet can also cause estrogen levels to spike. The chemicals in processed foods, like refined sugars and carbohydrates, have been linked to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance. This imbalance can lead to the development breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer. Women who suffer from estrogen dominance are likely to develop the following symptoms:
- Weight gain (primarily in the waist, hips, and thighs)
- Issues with menstrual cycle, such as light to heavy bleeding
- Complications with premenstrual syndrome
- Low sex drive
- Depression and anxiety
- Fibrocystic breast disease
Since estrogen levels in women are already higher than they are in men, it does not take much for the hormone to increase. Even your daily medication can raise estrogen levels. Oral contraceptives are prime examples because these pills force estrogen levels to remain high to the point where it fools the body into thinking that it’s pregnant, so that another pregnancy cannot occur. Often times, women experience mild to severe cramping and irregular periods due to excess amounts of estrogen after taking oral contraceptives. Taking these pills for a long period of time has also been linked to nutritional deficiencies, which can cause weight gain, heart disease, and depression.
Estrogen Dominance In Men
As men age, the production of testosterone naturally decreases. Not only does the body stop producing as much as before, but some hormones are also taken and converted into estrogen via an enzyme called aromatase. Estrogen promotes the stimulation of serotonin and endorphins, commonly known as the “feel good” neurotransmitters. These transmitters are directly associated with maintaining a man’s verbal and spatial memory in their senior years. A high amount of estrogen in the male body may cause:
- Weight gain
- Loss of sex drive
Treating Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen dominance in both men and women is usually treated with medication; however, non-medicinal methods have also been proven to be effective in treating the condition. Something as simple as eating natural whole foods and eliminating processed meat, sugar, and refined carbs from your diet can help balance your hormone levels. Steer clear of any toxic BPA containers, cleaning supplies, beauty products, GMO fruits and vegetables, as well as unclean or unfiltered water. Use glass containers rather than plastic and filter your water before consumption.
Another great way to balance your hormones is by cleansing the body. In doing so, you can naturally flush out the accumulated toxins that can cause estrogen levels to increase or decrease. Be extra careful about the types of medications you’re taking, and the amount of medications that are prescribed to you. Make sure that the chemical compounds in your meds won’t cause your estrogen levels to rise. Usually, medications that are used to regulate stress levels or mood have a way of increasing estrogen production, since it’s a hormone that’s directly linked to the “feel good” neurotransmitters in men. This also includes thyroid medication and anything that affects the adrenals.
Look for herbal supplements that can help balance your hormones naturally without added side effects. Supplements like an estrogen metabolizer, nutritional supplements with essential vitamins and minerals, or anything that provides hormonal support can assist with stabilizing hormone levels. Above all else, a healthy lifestyle is the best way to manage estrogen dominance symptoms. That means focusing your dietary efforts on fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds to help manage stress levels. Keep in mind that methods that may work for some people may not work for the others, but studies have shown that the suggested tips in this article have a high success rate for normalizing estrogen levels in both men and women.