Hormone replacement therapy can also cause estrogen dominance. This is because hormone replacement drugs that are high in estrogen but low in progesterone create an imbalance in the endocrine cycle. Luteal insufficiency, a condition in which progesterone levels are low, also contributes to this condition.
Exposure to xenoestrogens is also a major cause of estrogen dominance. Xenoestrogens function by mimicking bodily estrogen and therefore function as endocrine disruptors even when they are present in small concentrations.
The leading source of xenoestrogens is pesticides, which are stored in the fat cells of fish, poultry and other food sources consumed by humans. It is estimated that the average American ingests more than one pound of pesticides annually in this manner.
The second leading source of xenoestrogens are growth hormones, which are given to livestock and poultry, and which contain fat-soluble estrogens absorbed by the body upon consumption. Other sources of xenoestrogens are plastics and pollution.
Exposure to xenoestrogens can lead to anovulation (lack of ovulation), which also contributes to high estrogen levels.
Estrogen Dominance Complications
When estrogen levels outweigh levels of progesterone, the following conditions and symptoms can occur:
- cyclical headaches and migraines
- digestive problems
- irregular menstruation
- water retention
- weight gain
However, low estrogen levels can also be the cause of the above conditions.
Estrogen dominance has also been linked to:
- impaired cognitive ability
- hypermenorrhea (heavy periods)
- uterine cancer
Estrogen Dominance and Fertility
Estrogen dominance can affect both men and women, as it has been linked to male and female infertility, thereby reducing individuals' chances of getting pregnant.
In women, high estrogen levels can inhibit conception by causing conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). High estrogen levels in women also decrease the chances of getting pregnant because they reduce libido. Estrogen also accelerates the rate of reproductive maturity in women; because of increased exposure to estrogen, girls are beginning to develop secondary sex characteristics (pubic hair and breasts) at a younger age.
In men, high estrogen levels are linked to low sperm count. In some studies, sperm count levels were found to have dropped by 50%.
Estrogen Dominance Treatment
There are many natural treatments to minimize estrogen dominance.
Dietary changes can reduce estrogen levels in the body. Reducing fat consumption and increasing fiber consumption, as well as starting a plant-based diet (featuring soy and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kale) can lower excessive estrogen levels. Limiting the consumption of caffeine is also beneficial. Similarly, regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of estrogen dominance.
Detoxification is another effective form of estrogen dominance treatment. Minimizing exposure to pesticides, pollutants and plastics reduces estrogen levels. Some ways in which to do this include using organic soaps and toothpastes, natural-based perfumes and avoiding the use of plastics. Properly washing food while preparing meals also helps to eliminate pesticides.