Estrogen Dominance and PCOS

Estrogen dominance describes a condition where you can have normal or excessive estrogen, but have too little progesterone to balance estrogen's effects in your body.

An important cause of low progesterone occurs when the follicle does not release the egg. The follicle becomes a cyst and the normal progesterone surge does not take place. The lack of increase in progesterone signals the hypothalamus to produce more LH and FSH, which stimulates the ovary to make more estrogen and androgens, which in turn stimulates more follicles toward ovulation.

If these additional follicles are also unable to produce a matured ovum and make progesterone, the menstrual cycle is dominated by estrogen and androgen production without progesterone. This failure to ovulate contributes to a condition called "estrogen dominance."

Women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) frequently do not produce enough progesterone.

What Causes Estrogen Dominance?

An increasing number of researchers suspect that "environmental estrogens" are contributing to hormonal imbalances. Estrogenic petrochemicals are pervasive in our air, food and water. They include pesticides and herbicides (e.g., DDT, dieldrin, heptachlor, etc.) as well as various plastics (polycarbonated plastics found in baby bottles and water jugs) and PCBs. At least 50 environmental hormone mimics have been identified. Tens of thousands of environmental chemicals have not even been tested for their effect on your hormone function.

These estrogen-mimics are highly fat-soluble and are stored in your fatty tissues. They are not biodegradable or easily excreted so they simply accumulate in your body. For example, most women have detectable amounts of DDT residue. These chemicals mimic natural estrogen or other hormones and are taken up by the hormone receptor sites in your body, thus interfering with natural biochemical activity.

Another possible factor is that your body may have an impaired ability to metabolize and dispose of estrogens. This could be the case if you have impaired liver function or constipation.

Excessive Estrogen Symptoms

A long-term estrogen dominance leads to a vast array of possible health problems:

  • Acceleration of aging
  • Allergies or asthma
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Bone loss
  • Breast cancer
  • Breast tenderness or fibrocystic disease
  • Cervical dysplasia
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Depression/anxiety/irritability
  • Dry eyes
  • Endometrial (uterine) cancer
  • Fat gain (abdomen, hips thighs)
  • Fatigue
  • Fibroids
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Hair Loss
  • Headaches
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Increased blood clotting
  • Infertility
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Memory loss or foggy thinking
  • Mood swings
  • PMS
  • Polycystic ovaries
  • Thyroid dysfunction or sluggish metabolism
  • Uterine cancer
  • Water retention, bloating.

If you have any of the above symptoms, consult with a licensed naturopathic doctor or MD in order to determine whether you have a chronic estrogen-progesterone imbalance.

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