What is Estrogen Dominance + What to Do About It

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: Sex Hormones Leave a Comment

Estrogen dominance is one of the most common hormone imbalance problems for women. It is a common condition because both stress and environment have a big impact on your hormone levels.

Estrogen dominance can develop from excess body fat, environmental estrogens, poor digestion, stress, adrenal issues, and even autoimmune conditions.

Common Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance can also lead to decreased amounts of available thyroid hormone.

In this video I discuss estrogen dominance in great detail and provide you the information you need to start balancing your hormones.

The First Steps to Solving Estrogen Dominance

1. Improve Your Sleep and Reduce Stress

I recommend stress reduction and quality sleep are the very first steps women take in rebalancing their hormones. You can find tips in this article to help you reduce your stress.

2. Maximize Your Nutrition.

Focus on increasing dietary fiber, eating more liver supportive foods, and organic nutrient dense meals. Grab a meal plan here to see how. If you develop gas, bloating or other symptoms during this step it is imperative that you have lab testing done to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms.

3. Find a Practitioner to Partner With.

You will need lab testing to understand if and why you have estrogen dominance. In my clinic, we use advanced hormone lab testing to develop an individualized protocol based on your body's needs.

What Causes Estrogen Dominance

There are a lot of ways in which our environment, food, stress, and other lifestyle factors can mess with our hormones and create estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance causes many of the symptoms us gals dread. PMS, hot flashes, terrible periods, weight gain and even hair loss.

Estrogen Dominance Causes

Your liver is responsible for packaging up estrogen so your gut can move it out. If either system doesn't do its job, then you can develop estrogen dominance. You must supply your liver with what it needs to process estrogen and you must poop every day in order to remove excess estrogen from the body.

Environmental toxins known as xenoestrogens can also be behind your symptoms. You can watch a quick video explaining more about this here.

And if you don't ovulate or are having issues getting progesterone levels up during your luteal phase, this can cause a relative estrogen dominance.

How Your Gut Health Can Cause Estrogen Dominance

Oh and you know those rockstar gut bugs that do pretty much everything? Yeah, well, if they are out of balance and making too much beta glucuronidase then you can also find yourself with estrogen excess.

Calcium d-glucarate can help with this, which is why you'll find it in my Balance Women's Hormone Supplement. This supplement also contains B vitamins, DIM, and broccoli seed extract to support the liver's role in detoxing estrogen. Yup, it loves your liver and your gut in just the right way to support them in getting that estrogen out!

Notice if you find yourself constipated how your next period is. How does your skin look? How is your mood? Are your breasts more tender? Have you had hot flashes or difficulty sleeping?

In my naturopathic medical practice these are the kinds of things I ask my patients to monitor. Many of my patients are able to begin making the connection between their gut health and how their gut functions with how this impacts their hormones. I'd encourage you to do the same.

Download your free copy of Dr. Brighten's Quick Guide to Balancing Your Hormones.

Stress and Estrogen Dominance

Yes, we all know stress is a problem. But did you know that when you're stressed it pushes you into cortisol production at the expense of progesterone? This leads to a relative estrogen dominance because there isn't enough progesterone around to challenge estrogen. The result?

You're having trouble sleeping, you lose your cool, your periods are worse, your breasts are tender, and you feel like every stressor will break you!

Reducing stress is key to optimizing hormones! That's why you'll find stress reducing practices all throughout my book, Beyond the Pill.

Stress Reduction to Eliminate Estrogen Dominance

  • Deep Breathing
  • Massage
  • Journaling
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Walking
  • An epsom salt bath
  • Essential oils
  • Meditation
  • Mindfullness
  • Painting
  • Dancing

You get the idea! Next time you feel stressed, try to practice techniques to help you reclaim your chill!

Can Diet Help Estrogen Dominance?

Absolutely! You can grab a free meal plan + recipes here that are designed to help you get your hormones in balance.

Foods to Support Hormone Balance:

  • Broccoli and broccoli sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Flaxseeds and seed cycling
  • Protein like grass-fed beef, lentils, eggs
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Carrots
  • Jicama
  • Avocado
  • Blackberries
  • Beets
  • Burdock root
  • Dandelion root
  • Dark chocolate

Concerned you may have estrogen dominance?

Get the Hormone Balancing Starter Kit and start optimizing your hormones today!

Supplements for Estrogen Dominance

It's important to determine why you have estrogen dominance to begin with and address that.

Leveraging high quality supplements to provide your liver with nutrients to process estrogen can help some women create more favorable estrogen metabolites. In addition, probiotics and nutrients that help your body's stress system can help address some of the other factors that can lead to this issue.

This is why we designed the Period Problems Kit to provide adrenal, gut, and sex hormone support.

5 Steps to Eliminate Estrogen Dominance

1. Love Your Liver

Your liver is responsible for readying estrogen to be moved out of the body. This could honestly be a whole article of it's own (and it probably will be), but here are some basics:

  • Eat quality protein
  • Eat plenty of garlic and onions
  • Take a B complex
  • Eat a minimum of 3 cups of cruciferous vegetables weekly
  • Consider a supplement with DIM, a nutrient that supports the liver in processing estrogen

2. Fix Your Gut

Once the liver processes estrogen for elimination, it is up to your gut to move it out! If you are experiencing constipation, there is a good chance your estrogen isn't making its way out, but instead, going back into circulation in the body. Figuring out and treating the underlying cause of your digestive issues is crucial in creating optimal hormonal health.

When there is dysbiosis or an imbalance of gut flora, these organisms can make more beta-glucaronidase. This is an enzyme that can lead to higher levels of estrogen in the body. Taking a high quality probiotic may help shift the flora to be more favorable in some women.

3. Eat Fiber

Aim for at least 25 grams per day by eating plenty of vegetables and fruits. Fiber will keep your bowels regular and help eliminate waste, including unnecessary estrogen.

4. Stress Less

Easier said than done— I know! But here's the thing, all that stress is wrecking your mood, your hormones and well, your life. Do I sound dramatic? Maybe a little. But I cannot emphasize enough how much of an impact stress can have on your hormones.

For some women, supplements like Adrenal Support can help their body's hormonal stress response in addition to lifestyle practices.

5. Sleep!

Seven hours is the minimum you should be getting nightly. Your body needs sleep and your hormones demand it. For many of my patients, I recommend wearing light blocking glasses 1-2 hours before bed to help them get the rest they need and shift their hormones to a more favorable state. If you're struggling with sleep, I recommend you meet with your doctor to determine the cause and treat appropriately. Your hormones can be a cause of sleep disturbance!

Estrogen is a hormone that can sometimes get a bad wrap, especially in the context of estrogen dominance. But estrogen is what gives women their hips, breast and thighs and keeps the whole body well lubricated. It is also very important for bone health and your mood.

Estrogen also plays a crucial role in thyroid health and, when in excess, can lead to decreased amounts of available thyroid hormone.

Estrogen dominance can develop from excess body fat, environmental estrogens, poor digestion, stress, adrenal issues, and even autoimmune conditions.

Although estrogen dominance can make you feel miserable, it is reversible! By implementing these 5 steps you can improve your estrogen/progesterone balance and begin to heal your entire hormonal system.

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is one of the leading experts in women’s medicine and is a pioneer in her exploration of the far-reaching impact of hormonal birth control and the little known side effects that impact health in a large way. In her best selling book, Beyond the Pill, she shares her clinical protocols aimed at supporting women struggling with symptoms of hormone imbalance, including Post-Birth Control Pill Syndrome and birth control related side effects. A trained nutritional biochemist and Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Brighten is the founder and Clinic Director at Rubus Health, an integrative women’s medicine clinic. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and has been featured in prominent media outlets such as Forbes, Cosmopolitan, ABC news, and the New York Post. Read more about me here.