Understanding Estrogen Dominance

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Medically Reviewed
May 2, 2024

Estrogen, a vital sex hormone, plays a key role in a woman’s health, influencing everything from menstrual cycles to bone density. When estrogen levels become imbalanced compared to progesterone, another crucial hormone, it can lead to a condition called estrogen dominance. This imbalance can cause a cascade of symptoms that significantly impact a woman’s quality of life. 

The good news? Estrogen dominance doesn’t have to rule your life.  

Understanding Estrogen Dominance: Signs and Symptoms 

Estrogen dominance isn’t a medically defined term but rather a functional imbalance. Symptoms can vary from woman to woman, but some of the most common include: 

  • Menstrual irregularities: This could manifest as heavy or light periods, irregular cycles, or even skipped periods. 
  • Perimenopause: During perimenopause, estradiol drops, leading to anovulatory cycles, causing estrogen dominance  
  • PMS intensification: Existing PMS symptoms like bloating, mood swings, and cramps may worsen. 
  • Weight gain: Difficulty losing weight, particularly around the hips and thighs, can be a telltale sign. 
  • Breast tenderness and fibrocystic changes: Breast pain, lumps, or a dense feeling in the breasts can occur. 
  • Mood swings and irritability: Increased anxiety, depression, brain fog, and difficulty concentrating are common. 
  • Fatigue and low libido: Feeling constantly tired and a decrease in sex drive are often reported. 
  • Skin issues: Acne breakouts, oily skin, or hair loss can be a sign of hormonal imbalance. 

What Causes Estrogen Dominance? 

Several factors can contribute to estrogen dominance, including: 

  • Stress: Chronic stress elevates cortisol, which can disrupt progesterone production, leading to relative estrogen dominance. 
  • Diet: Excess sugar, processed foods, and a diet low in fiber can create a hormonal imbalance. 
  • Environmental toxins: Xenoestrogens, environmental chemicals that mimic estrogen, can overload our system. 
  • Birth control pills: While some pills contain both estrogen and progesterone, certain formulations may contribute to an imbalance. 
  • Weight gain: Excess body fat can convert androgens into estrogens, further tipping the scales. 
  • Thyroid dysfunction: An underactive thyroid can impair progesterone production, mimicking estrogen dominance. 

Finding Relief: Integrative Medicine Approaches to Estrogen Dominance 

Conventional medicine often focuses on managing symptoms of estrogen dominance with medications or even surgery. While these options may be necessary in some cases, integrative medicine offers a different approach that addresses the root cause of the imbalance and promotes long-term well-being.  

Advanced Diagnostic Testing for Estrogen Dominance 

While traditional hormone tests can offer a basic picture, functional medicine goes a step further by delving into the underlying reasons behind estrogen dominance.  

Here are tests your integrative medicine practitioner may recommend: 

DUTCH Test: This convenient at-home test analyzes both urine and saliva samples, providing a comprehensive profile of sex and adrenal hormones. It goes beyond just levels, measuring the crucial breakdown products (metabolites) of these hormones. This deeper analysis helps understand how your body is processing and utilizing hormones, potentially revealing metabolic and stress pathways contributing to the imbalance. 

Metabolomix+ Micronutrient Panel: This panel assesses nutrient insufficiencies that can hinder your body’s ability to properly detoxify estrogen. By identifying these limitations, we can address potential “liver stagnation,” a term used in functional medicine to describe sluggish detoxification pathways. 

Comprehensive Stool Analysis: This test can reveal elevated levels of beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme that breaks down estrogen for elimination. Additionally, it can identify intestinal dysbiosis, an imbalance in gut bacteria, which can further impair estrogen elimination. 

Environmental Toxins Screen: If your history doesn’t clearly point to exposure to environmental xenoestrogens (chemicals mimicking estrogen), this test quantifies your exposure to various endocrine-disrupting chemicals. These xenoestrogens can overload your system and contribute to estrogen dominance. 

Developing a Personalized Treatment Plan 

The key to addressing estrogen dominance effectively lies in a personalized approach. Integrative medicine offers a comprehensive way to address this imbalance and restore hormonal harmony. When determining a personalized treatment plan, you could encounter integrative medicine therapies like bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), clinical nutrition, acupuncture, or IV therapy to help you feel like your best self again. 

Here’s what you can expect when working with an integrative medicine practitioner: 

  • Comprehensive Evaluation: A thorough evaluation will include a detailed medical history, a discussion of your symptoms, and advanced diagnostic testing like those described earlier in this article to assess hormone levels and identify any underlying health conditions. 
  • Individualized Treatment Plan: Based on your unique needs and goals, your team of integrative practitioners will create a customized plan that may include a combination of functional medicine therapies, treatments, stress management techniques, and targeted supplements. 
  • Ongoing Support: Integrative medicine emphasizes a collaborative approach. Regular appointments will allow your integrative team to monitor your progress and adjust the plan as needed. 

The Journey to Feeling Your Best 

Estrogen dominance can be a frustrating and disruptive condition. However, with the guidance of an integrative team of medicine practitioners and modality experts, you can regain balance and boost your overall well-being.  

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this blog post is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. This blog post does not establish a doctor-patient relationship and should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. 

Dr. Angela DeRosa

As our Associate Medical Director, Dr. Angela De Rosa is integral to the continued education and innovation here at Nava Health. Dr. Angela DeRosa, DO, MBA, CPE, is a dynamic professional on a mission to change the face of women’s health and wellness. As a respected, internationally recognized authority on women’s hormonal health, Dr. DeRosa understands the range of health issues women face leading up to and during menopause, as she was in full-blown menopause by age 35. Dr. DeRosa has more than 25 years of experience in the medical field, both on the pharmaceutical side and in clinical practice.

Dr. DeRosa’s enthusiasm for educating patients on the realities of menopause and the risk factors of hormonal health imbalances has never waned. It was the driving force behind her first bestselling book, A Woman’s Health Survival Guide: How to Prevent Your Doctor From Slowly Killing You. Her book and its controversial title caught the attention of the public, media, and the medical community.

Dr. DeRosa is on the advisory board for the European Menopause and Andropause Society, a member of the International Menopause Society International Society of the Study of Women’s Sexual Health, and a researcher on women’s health issues. Dr. DeRosa is a Midwestern University Clinical Assistant Professor and a Past Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association President.