So how did you like Part I of How to Balance Hormones? Recognise any natural signs of insufficient progesterone? We see them very commonly here at Life and Cycles. Here is Part II of that series …oestrogen production, sources of xenoestrogens (chemical hormone harmers) and clearing old oestrogen. So many women we see have insufficient progesterone in relation to oestrogen and that can be for a variety of reasons, including the low progesterone issues we covered last week. It can also be due to issues with oestrogens themselves – er yes, there is more than one type! Read on for the skinny on oestrogen…
Estradiol is the oestrogen associated with mood, sleep, good skin, bone health, vaginal lubrication and sex drive. It’s released by developing follicles and stimulates the growth of our womb lining and fertile mucus (egg whitey mucus around ovulation).
How Do I Know If I Have Too Much Oestrogen?
Signs of too much oestrogen include heavy periods, sore boobs and PMS symptoms.
Be aware that it fluctuates throughout the day and throughout your cycle so if you’re going to ask your doctor for a blood test, you need to know where you are in your cycle.
It’s lowest about Day 3 of you period and highest around a few days before ovulation and also in the luteal phase. This means that if you want blood tests a good time to take them is around Day 21 (of a 28 day cycle) because you can get progesterone and estradiol done at the same time for convenience. And we all like convenience.
You can also get saliva tests or urine tests privately.
What the Heck is “Oestrogen Dominance”?
Have you heard the term “oestrogen dominance”? People often bandy it about.
It simply means too much oestrogen compared to progesterone. I’m not fond of the term really, because it implies excess oestrogen when in fact it can mean normal levels of oestrogen, but low progesterone as well. You can actually have too little progesterone and excess oestrogen at the same time!
So What Causes Excess Oestrogen?
You might think that it’s your follicles producing too much oestrogen. Nope, it’s not usually that.
It’s typically because we’re not clearing or detoxing old oestrogen properly. For that, we need tip top liver function and a good supply of the nutrients that support liver function like B vitamins, selenium, zinc, folate and certain amino acids from protein.
We also need to stop caning our livers with alcohol.
Hormone-harming chemicals called xenoestrogens hamper oestrogen clearing and detoxification too. It’s a mahoosive topic, but we are surrounded by chemicals that throw hormones out of whack and they include plastic softeners, pesticides, insect sprays, fire retardants, solvents and much much more. They increase our risks of hormone related conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis and even hormonally driven cancers.
Of course, any detoxed oestrogen needs to be eliminated/pooped out, so your gut needs to be working tip top too. We need healthy gut bacteria because if not, we run the risk of old oestrogens being reactivated and recirculated, contributing to excess oestrogen overall.
And let’s face it, many of us don’t have a healthy gut. Common gut disrupters include any antibiotics and the Pill… and lack of gut-supporting diet.
Many clients are surprised when they come to talk to me about hormones and I start asking about digestion and loving your liver and now you can all see why I go there.
Oestrogen Deficiency /Menopause
It is possible to have low estradiol. Symptoms here include light periods, hot flushes, sleeplessness, vaginal dryness. Blood tests for ow oestrogen are a bit unreliable because it fluctuates so much naturally.
Risk factors for low oestrogen include smoking, stress, excessive exercise and/or low body fat/weight. You’re more likely to suffer low oestrogen if you’re vegetarian or consume a lot of soy products.
In menopause, our ovaries do not produce the oestrogen they once did and so our adrenal glands should produce enough oestrogen and progesterone to avoid sucky menopausal symptoms. However, lots women go into peri/menopause with their adrenal glands depleted by stress and busy-ness and other stuff. And so their menopause is not as easy as it might otherwise have been. I know from experience. Again, clients are sometimes surprised when I talk adrenal health instead of menopause, and now you also know why!
I mentioned there is more than one type of oestrogen right at the start.
Estrone is made by body fat. I kid you not. It stimulates breasts, womb lining and other oestrogen sensitive tissues, just like estradiol. Too much can lead to sore boobs, PMS and heavy periods.
If you are carrying a lot of body fat, especially if its round the middle, you’re likely producing a lot of estrone.
There’s also estriol, which is a weak oestrogen and low in women who are not pregnant. The placenta synthesises high quantities of estriol during pregnancy. Not a lot of people know that.
So, I hope you enjoyed this whistle-stop tour of oestrogen, its benefits and potential issues. If you suspect oestrogen issues are affecting your cycle or fertility or you’re suffering sucky menopause symptoms get in touch and see how we can help you harmonise those hormones.