picture of 3 types of estrogen that may contribute to estrogen dominance

What is Estrogen Dominance?

You may read elsewhere that estrogen dominance is having too much estrogen. That’s only partially true.  Sometimes it is actually having an estrogen level that is too high, but more often it is having relatively more estrogen than one or more of the other hormones that should be available to balance your estrogen, such as progesterone, DHEAs and testosterone.  Also, there are environmental pollutants that can act like estrogen and bind to estrogen receptors, causing excessive estrogen activity.

What are the symptoms of Estrogen Dominance?

While you need a certain level of estrogen, too much of a good thing can cause symptoms like:

  1. PMS – sad, emotional, weepy crying type PMS, your husband or boyfriend has no idea what’s going on type PMS
  2. Breast tenderness
  3. Headaches or Migraines
  4. Uterine fibroids
  5. Uterine polyps
  6. Acne
  7. Heavy periods
  8. Painful periods
  9. Hormone-related cancers such as ovarian, uterine or breast cancer
  10. Endometriosis
  11. Anxiety or depression

How do you test for Estrogen Dominance?

Well, now that depends.  There is a blood test for estrogen (estradiol), but did you know that estradiol is only one of 3 main forms of estrogen in your body? The other two are estrone and estriol and these are not usually measured on blood tests. So your estradiol test may come back perfectly normal, but there may still be estrogen dominance.  Even should your estradiol blood test be normal, it depends on how the other reproductive hormones are faring.  It also depends on how active your estrogen is, something that is regulated by a protein called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). A full hormone blood test panel would include total testosterone, DHEAs, androstenedione, progesterone (best measured on day 21 of a 28-day cycle), SHBG, estradiol (on day 3 and 14 of a cycle), LH and FSH (day 3).  There may only be subtle shifts in these hormones that your doctor considers normal, but those subtle shifts are sometimes enough to cause the above symptoms.  Even if all the blood tests are normal, we still have the unknowns of estrone and estriol.  With the above symptoms, I would often help the liver with estrogen metabolism, regardless of blood test results, although I always like to see what the exact numbers are to see about the subtle shifts.

How do you treat Estrogen Dominance?

In order to efficiently process extra estrogen for disposal, the liver requires specific nutrients in specific forms.  It does not require dandelion or milk thistle, which are the constituents of many liver detox kits.  It does require 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, pyridoxal-5-phosphate, indole-3-carbinol, methylcobalamin, n-acetylcysteine, glutathione, calcium-d-glucarate.  These are all natural substances, but almost none of them are found in health food store liver detox kits.  These are the types of treatments that I would use to enhance liver detoxification generally, but also complete, efficient estrogen metabolism. I have seen dramatic improvements in the above-mentioned symptoms through improving liver metabolism of excess estrogen and xenoestrogens (chemical pollutants like BPA, that can act like and be even more powerful than estrogen).

For help with this or any other health problem, book an appointment here or call the office for more information at 416-481-0222.

by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

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