Causes of High Estrogen (AKA Estrogen Dominance)
ByJoanne Aponte, ND •September 28, 2023
High estrogen can contribute to heavy periods, breast pain, fibroids, and PMS. It can also interfere with your thyroid and increase the risk of breast cancer.
What causes high estrogen levels?
- Dietary factors – diets that are low in fiber and high in sugar, dairy, animal protein and processed foods.
- Sluggish liver function and poor detox – your liver is the main way estrogen gets metabolized and packaged up so it can be excreted from the body. Estrogen mimicking chemicals and other toxicants in the environment bog down the liver rendering it less effective at metabolizing our body’s natural estrogen. You might also have slow detox pathways, specifically the methylation and COMT pathways. These are the 2 primary enzyme pathways that metabolize estrogen. For genetic and environmental reasons these pathways could be working slowly. Deficiencies in certain nutrients such as B vitamins and Magnesium also impair these enzymes.
- Gut issues and microbiome imbalances – bacterial imbalances in the gut contribute to systemic inflammation and those inflammatory chemicals tend to drive estrogen levels up. Also, if you have too much “bad” bacteria in the gut and not enough good, it tends to lead to estrogen being reabsorbed into the body (instead of being pooped out like it’s supposed to)
- Underlying systemic inflammation and excess histamine
- High Stress– high stress tends to drive up the hormone cortisol. When cortisol levels are high, progesterone levels are suppressed which leaves you in a relative high estrogen state.
- Insulin resistance – when insulin levels are high it leads to an overproduction of a specific type of estrogen called estrone.
- Lack of ovulation – if you are not ovulating you are not producing enough progesterone. Adequate progesterone is needed to balance estrogen so if you don’t have enough progesterone, your body will be in a relative high estrogen state.
- Exposure to toxicants – EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals) and xenoestrogens (estrogen mimicking chemicals) disrupt the hormone system in many ways. BPA, PCBs, Phthalates and PFAS are some of the main toxicants that disrupt the hormones.
- Perimenopause – during perimenopause estrogen naturally climbs and has wide fluctuations. This is paired with declining progesterone levels which can be a recipe for disaster.
- Estrogen receptor hypersensitivity – sometimes the actual amount of estrogen is only part of the story. Some women have normal estrogen levels but they are far more sensitive to estrogen than is typical. This can lead to all the same high estrogen symptoms. Estrogen hypersensitivity is common in teenagers.
How to lower estrogen:
- Reduce alcohol – limit to 3 drinks per week maximum.
- Focus on your health foundations – Regular exercise, adequate sleep, rest and relaxation.
- Eat a high fiber diet that is plentiful in plant foods- click here to learn more about diet.
- Avoid inflammatory foods such as dairy, sugar and corn.
- Manage stress and prioritize life balance and self-care.
- Reduce exposure to toxicants such as in plastics, canned foods, cosmetics and pesticides.
- Work with a naturopathic doctor to identify your specific underlying causes (inflammation, gut issues, insulin resistance, etc)
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.