Estrogen. We're aware when it rears its ugly head before mensuration, but do we really know signs of an imbalance and the problems it can cause?
Estrogen is metabolized by a large group of bacterial genes, collectively known as the estrobolome. Their main job is to keep estrogen levels balanced. Healthy gut bacteria will ensure that neither too much nor too little estrogen is in the system. However, when the estrobolome becomes off balance, it can activate too much estrogen, leading to estrogen dominance.
Why does the estrobolome get off track? For the same reasons that any gut dysbiosis occurs – poor food choices, stress, overuse of antibiotics, and in women – the use of birth control pills.
Estrogen can become dominant in two ways:
● When there’s too much estrogen in the body
● When there’s not enough progesterone to balance out the estrogen
How can you tell if you are off-balance?
Some symptoms of estrogen dominance include:
● Low sex drive
● Irregular menstrual periods
● Mood swings
● Weight gain
● Brain fog
Yes, PMS is not really supposed to happen. When our bodies are in balance, we should not see extreme changes during that time of the month. Crazy, right? What can we blame our actions on now? hehe...
Imbalanced estrobolome isn’t the only way that estrogen dominance can occur. It can also be caused by:
● Exposure to endocrine disruptors (plastic, pesticides, heavy metals and more!)
● High stress levels
● A diet high in processed foods and low in fiber
If you think about it, all of these are factors influenced by the gut, too.
Estrogen dominance is more common in women, but men produce estrogen as well and in some cases, too much. Under stressful conditions, the body converts testosterone to estrogen!
Symptoms of estrogen dominance in men include:
● A loss of libido
● Low sperm count
● Breast enlargement
The gut has the major task of processing excess estrogen so that it can leave the system.
Active estrogen passes through the liver where it’s converted into a less active form called estrogen metabolites. It's clear we need to constantly be supporting our liver.
● Eating more cruciferous vegetables – like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
● Decreasing excess body fat
● Improving the health of the microbiome
● Getting regular physical activity.
● Participating in a seasonal liver cleanse, with a health care professional (like me!)
A healthy liver makes healthy estrogen metabolites!
Hormone balance can result in irregular or absent ovulation. It also increases the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women – because progesterone is essential to maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Also, the decline in progesterone will lead to estrogen dominance.
To recap, sex hormones affect the health of the gut, and gut health can have an impact on reproductive health. The gut and the estrobolome play a large role in how much estrogen enters the body in an active state. When the gut can’t properly regulate estrogen and remove it from the body, estrogen dominance can occur. The takeaway point from all of this is that gut health is an important part of any healing process.
Stay tuned for my completely all-natural solution to proper family planning. I'm fully aware I am not an OBGYN, but from what I have studied in school, I am also not a fan of most conventional birth control methods. More on how to really get to know your body soon...
Sources and Additional Reading:
Institute of Integrative Nutrition, 2018