Ever felt a huge decline in your sex drive along with your energy level lately? It might be because there’s something wrong with your hormone levels.
Hormonal imbalance isn’t an uncommon condition. In fact, the most common types of hormone imbalance is estrogen dominance – affecting both men and women.
So what is estrogen dominance exactly?
Estrogen is a sex hormone present in both men and women. However, unlike testosterone, men have lower levels of estrogen than in women. Hence, estrogen dominance is most often associated with women.
Estrogen dominance occurs where there is excess estrogen and there are low levels of progesterone to counter it. The result is an increase in the stress hormone cortisol and a decrease in testosterone. Even if women naturally have lower levels of testosterone compared to men, a deficiency of testosterone can still affect a woman’s muscle growth and sex drive.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include:
- Breast tenderness
- Irregular menstrual period
- Increased symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
Causes of Estrogen Dominance
Xenoestrogens. Too much estrogen is usually caused by outside factors such as xenoestrogens found in the environment and diet. They are non-biodegradable and fat-soluble. They’re considered artificial estrogens that may be present in plastics, cosmetics, detergents, pesticides and birth control products.
They tend to mimic how estrogen works in the body so it’s not surprising that they are one of the main culprits when it comes to high levels of estrogen.
Stress. When a person is under stress, their adrenal glands secrete cortisol. To sustain the increased production of cortisol due to chronic stress, the body utilizes more progesterone to produce it. Remember that progesterone regulates the effects of estrogen.
If there is low level of progesterone to balance estrogen (because it’s being shuttled towards cortisol production), the body secretes more estrogen, eventually leading to estrogen dominance[i].
Excess fat tissue (obesity). It has been proven that excessive fat tissues in the body can cause an increase in the levels of estrogen, particularly in men. Aromatization, which is the process of converting testosterone to estrogen, happens in fat cells. When there is too much body fat, it provides more space for this process to happen, producing more estrogen[ii].
How to Reverse Estrogen Dominance Naturally
There are three main ways to reverse estrogen dominance and restore hormone balance:
- Improving liver function
- Improving bowel function
- Avoiding artificial estrogens present in pharmaceuticals and food
In order to achieve them, here are 5 easy steps you can follow.
Step 1: Eat a majority plant-based, high-fiber diet
High fiber diet can reduce excess estrogen in the body. How?
A diet high in fiber can reduce levels of excess estrogen. Excess estrogen is eliminated via the bowels, but, when the stool stays in the gut for an extended period, as with constipation, estrogen is reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
Studies have revealed that women following a high-fiber diet have lower levels of circulating estrogen and lower estrogen levels means less stimulation of estrogen in the breast tissues, which lowers the risk of breast cancer[iii].
Step 2: Daily intake of estrogen-clearing foods and supplements.
Cruciferous vegetables are loaded with glucosinolates – a compound that promotes detoxification. What makes this family of vegetables potent allies against estrogen dominance is that they contain diindolytmethane (DIM), a compound that helps convert excess estrogen into less effective forms[iv].
Using dietary supplements can also help manage estrogen dominance. Taurine, lecithin and methionine amino acids are compounds that support bile circulation, thus enhancing the excretion of estrogen from the body.
Lipotropic formulas support liver function. These include milk thistle, dandelion, black radish or beetroot. Other useful supplements include Calcium d-glucarate, which helps deactivate excess hormones and toxic substances. For men, the use of testosterone-boosting and estrogen-blocking supplements can help block excess estrogen, helping to bring healthy levels of testosterone back into to the body.
Step 3: Physical Exercise
Regular exercise can reduce excessive estrogen levels in a variety of ways. Physical activity help detoxify too much estrogen and eliminates it through your perspiration. It can also increase your sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which is important as SHBG binds to estrogens and deactivates them.
Exercise also increases your metabolism and helps burn excess body fat. This will naturally lower the amount of circulating estrogen through minimizing aromatase enzymes. To achieve optimum hormone balancing, a combination of strength training, cardiovascular and flexibility-promoting exercises are recommended. HIIT (high intensity interval training) are excellent fat burning exercises but they must be applied in moderation as they may cause excessive stress to the body (we recommend once a week max). Yoga is a gentler form of exercise that is great for reducing stress and increasing flexibility.
Step 4: Stress Management
Stress is a significant factor in estrogen dominance. Eliminate all forms of stimulants such as sugar, alcohol, caffeine and energy drinks. Your adrenal glands react to these stimulants, releasing more stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline. These increases your overall stress, putting you at risk of adrenal exhaustion.
Meditation can also help you relax and bring your cortisol down to a healthy level. Other stress-reducing activities include deep breathing exercises, gardening, Epsom salt baths, yoga or just getting lost in something you truly enjoy.
Step 5: Reduce xenoestrogen exposure
Our environment is filled with feminizing or estrogenic elements. Xenoestrogens such as phthalates, pesticides, PCBs and DDT and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) have been proven to increase estrogenic activity[v].
Chlorine and hormones in dairy products and non-organic meats can also have effects on your estrogen levels. In men, an estrogenic environment can affect fertility or quality of the sperm. In women, it may cause various female diseases – all traceable from deficient progesterone or excess estrogen.
The 5 steps mentioned above can help you to significantly reduce your estrogen levels. Use of these lifestyle changes and natural means is the best way to restore hormonal balance and manage estrogen dominance.
“Alex Eriksson is the founder of AnabolicHealth.com, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Check out his guide on Manly Foods That Boost Testosterone.”
[i] Kate M. Edwards and Paul J. Mills. (December 2009). Effects of estrogen versus estrogen and progesterone on cortisol and interleukin-6. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2663529/
[ii] Schneider G, et.al. (April 1979). Increased estrogen production in obese men. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/429508
[iii] Monroe KR, et.al. (2007). Dietary fiber intake and endogenous serum hormone levels in naturally postmenopausal Mexican American women: the Multiethnic Cohort Study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17640158
[iv] Shilpi Rajoria, et.al. (March 2011). 3,3′-Diindolylmethane Modulates Estrogen Metabolism in Patients with Thyroid Proliferative Disease: A Pilot Study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048776/
[v] Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis, et.al. (June 2009). Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2726844/