What You Will Learn in This Article
- Why women think Estrogen Dominance doesn’t make sense in menopause
- Sharing my experience with Estrogen Dominance
- The demographics of Estrogen Dominance
- How it’s possible to have Estrogen Dominance during peri- and menopause
- What you can do
Estrogen Dominance in perimenopause or menopause? You might be surprised to hear this is even possible.
Most women, understandably, believe that if they have low estrogen, they couldn’t possibly have Estrogen Dominance. After all, it seems like a contradiction that you could be estrogen dominant while your estrogen levels are declining or are already low…
In this article, I will explain why it is possible, and even more dangerous to have Estrogen Dominance in peri- and menopause than it is during reproductive years when we have a lot of estrogen circulating in our bodies.
We’ll talk about how that happens. But first, here’s my experience with Estrogen Dominance.
My Story And Interest in Estrogen Dominance
As it often happens, when you go through a medical problem and come out on the other end, you want to share it with the rest of the world. In my case, first, it was Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and then Estrogen Dominance. I’ve managed to reverse both conditions well enough to feel and look pretty good for a 50-year-old woman.
I’m now also going through perimenopause and armed with the knowledge I’ve gained over the years, I’ve definitely noticed that if I don’t stick with the diet and supplement protocols I’ve created, I feel the effects and my Estrogen Dominance symptoms return pretty quickly.
I often see them being particularly pronounced when I travel, especially to Europe where I tend to indulge a little more in varied foods, more gluten (which I typically don’t eat at home, in the US), more wine and beer, later dinners and less exercise. And most importantly, I often forget to take my supplements.
Now, given, I have a few genetic SNPs that predispose me to Estrogen Dominance – I’m a poor methylator and tend to recirculate “dirty” estrogens. This partly explains why so many women on both sides of my family have struggled with this hormonal imbalance and many have passed away from estrogenic cancers (uterine, breast, and ovarian cancers).
What I have learned is that as I get older, enter peri-menopause, and experience declining hormones, my Estrogen Dominance isn’t getting better – it’s only getting worse.
So yes, this is just how my hormones are, with these genes, predispositions and what not – and I’ve learned to live a lifestyle that feels fulfilling and rich, free of fear and frustration and somehow also made it my mission to help women reverse and manage Estrogen Dominance so they can live their best lives yet.
My point is: do something early to address your symptoms, especially when in peri- or menopause.
The Demographics of Estrogen Dominance
As you ponder whether it’s possible to have Estrogen Dominance while you also have low estrogen levels, here are a few stats to consider:
- The highest demographic of women who get estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer (ages 45-65) are LOW in estrogen
- The highest demographic of women who get ovarian cancers (ages 45-65) are also LOW in estrogen
Both ER+ breast cancer and ovarian cancer are due to Estrogen Dominance. If Estrogen Dominance didn’t happen in menopause, these estrogen-related cancers couldn’t happen.
So, what’s going on? It’s not that there’s too much estrogen in these cases; it’s the hormone ratios and metabolism of estrogen that are the issues.
There Are Two Main Causes of Estrogen Dominance in Peri- and Menopause
#1 The Ratio of Estrogen to Progesterone is Off
This happens when you don’t have enough progesterone to balance out the aggressive estradiol (E2). This can happen even if both estrogen and progesterone levels are low – as happens in peri- and menopause.
As soon as we hit 40 or so, both estrogen and progesterone levels start declining quickly.
The problem is that progesterone starts dropping a lot faster than estrogen does as we age. This creates an imbalance between the two hormones, leading to Estrogen Dominance.
Here’s a chart that explains:
As you can see in the above chart, a 35-year old woman’s estrogen-to-progesterone ratio is pretty balanced. As both hormones decline, by the time she’s 55, her estrogen-to-progesterone level has shifted to estrogen being more dominant and progesterone being insufficient to oppose and balance out estrogen.
Estrogen and progesterone work as “balanced partners.” They both play a role in fertility, beauty, mood, and overall health and vitality. However, progesterone is really there to oppose estrogen.
Estrogen tends to have a more aggressive effect on the body, and progesterone is there to calm it. But both hormones work to keep the body in balance.
Progesterone dropping a lot faster compared to estrogen creates a type of imbalance where estrogen becomes overly dominant. This is what leads to Estrogen Dominance and sometimes estrogen-related cancers.
#2 There’s an Issue With Breaking Down Estrogen Into Clean & “Dirty” Estrogens
Most of us have gone through a romantic or professional breakup that was less than ideal and the consequences lingered on. In the context of hormones, the liver is responsible for breaking down estradiol and estrone into smaller pieces as the first step in the process of eliminating metabolized or “dirty” estrogen. There are three different smaller pieces that estrogen can be broken down into:
- 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OH): a “good” estrogen that does not stimulate cell growth and can block the action of stronger, potentially cancer-causing estrogens.
- 4-hydroxyestrone (4-OH): potentially harmful, with increased estrogenic activity. A “dirty” estrogen.
- 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone (16-OH): potentially harmful, associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. A “dirty” estrogen.
We want more 2-OH with limited amounts of 4-OH and 16-OH. If that’s not happening because your liver is already taxed and therefore not able to break down the estrogens to eliminate them properly, it will generate too many “dirty” estrogens, so you’ll experience estrogen dominance. This is why the health of the liver is so vital when you’re experiencing estrogen dominance.
Not surprisingly, as we age, our liver becomes less efficient than it was when we were younger.
For example: In college, you could have, like, 5 shots of tequila, go to bed, and then get up, have some coffee and go to class. Try having 5 tequilas now and see how you feel in the morning!
This is largely due to the fact that the liver just isn’t as efficient and effective at peri- and menopause as it was when we were in our 20s and 30s.
This doesn’t just apply to the liver’s metabolism of alcohol, but also to its metabolism of hormones. Read more about the liver’s role in hormone balance here.
The gut is another organ to address if you’re not metabolizing estrogen well. Certain estrogen-metabolizing bacteria, collectively known as the “estrobolome” are there to keep hormone levels in balance.
If they are damaged, for a variety of reasons (antibiotic use, toxins, etc), they won’t be able to properly break down estrogen, leading to Estrogen Dominance.
You may have low estrogen levels, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have Estrogen Dominance.
What You Can Do
If you’re in peri- or menopause and you have symptoms of Estrogen Dominance, there are some things you can do:
#1 Take the Estrogen Dominance Quiz. Estrogen dominance symptoms occur in 75% of women, but the vast majority (90%) don’t even realize they have it. Take the quiz to find out for yourself here.
#2 Consider getting my book: Overcoming Estrogen Dominance. It will guide you, step by step, in how to eat, which supplements to take, and what lifestyle hacks to include in order to overcome Estrogen Dominance and get back into hormone balance.
#3 Start off with a few articles. While you’re waiting for your copy of the book to arrive, take a look at these articles:
- Estrogen Dominance As Hormonal Imbalance In Women
- The Breast Cancer and Estrogen Link | How to Prevent Breast Cancer
- Could Ingredients in Your Makeup Cause Early Menopause?
- Top Herbs for Liver Health & Estrogen Detoxification
- Best Supplements for Estrogen Dominance
Going through peri- and menopause doesn’t exclude women from having Estrogen Dominance. In fact, Estrogen Dominance in menopause is even more dangerous than in reproductive years as women tend to produce more “dirty” estrogen that can be harmful.
The GOOD NEWS is that Estrogen Dominance is highly reversible and manageable. It’s just a matter of getting started. We’ve provided some resources to get started under “What You Can Do” above – and if you need more, reach out to our team at [email protected].