Estrogen Dominance

Causes and Effects

Estrogen and progesterone are two of the primary female sex hormones produced in the ovaries from follicles. Ovarian follicles are the structures inside the ovaries containing a maturing egg surrounded by its encasing cells. Estrogen rises in the first half of the cycle, peaks at ovulation, and then falls in the second half as progesterone rises. Progesterone is released after the rupturing of the follicle during ovulation by the structure called corpus luteum. Corpus luteum is the structure that develops after the release of a mature egg from the follicle. If there is no pregnancy, there will be a bleeding and the whole cycle begins again. In a woman who is in her 20’s and early 30’s, estrogen production is balanced and “opposed” by progesterone production due to the fact that ovulation takes place almost every month. Once a woman enters her mid 30’, the frequency of ovulation decreases. As a result, corpus luteum which is the by product of ovulation and responsible for progesterone production is not formed. Although adrenal glands (two glands sitting on top of the kidneys) produce some amount of progesterone, it is used for other purposes and is not enough by itself to oppose estrogen.

Among other contributing factors in “estrogen dominance” are Xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are synthetic substances that differ from those produced by living organisms and imitate or enhance the effect of estrogens. The estrogenic stimulation is an unintended side-effect of these agents or their metabolites. External estrogens from a variety of sources may have a cumulative effect upon living organisms, and xenoestrogens may be part of a larger picture of a process of estrogenization of the environment. Xenoestrogens have only been recently (less than 70 years) introduced into the environment, as produced by industrial, agricultural, and chemical companies Symptoms Symptoms that are experienced in “estrogen dominance” conditions are caused by the physiological effects of estrogen not being balanced by progesterone. In general symptoms of PMS* (Premenstrual syndrome) are exaggerated:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Increase in breast size
  • Water retention especially around the abdominal area, fingers and toes
  • Irritability, anxiety, moodiness
  • Headache Symptoms are experienced mainly from 10-14 days after the first day of bleeding continuing through the first or second day of the next cycle bleeding.

Symptoms are experienced during the time in the cycle that normally ovulation should have occurred for progesterone to be produced to oppose estrogen. Diagnosis Is made based on:

  1. Patient’s symptoms
  2. Timing of the symptoms
  3. Blood test estrogen and progesterone day 21 of the cycle when the level of both hormones, especially progesterone is highest

After the diagnosis of estrogen dominance is established:

  • Estrogen metabolism testing to identify how the estrogen is broken down in the body
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