Estrogen and Progesterone – it’s all about balance￼
ByJoanne Aponte, ND •June 19, 2022
The hormones estrogen and progesterone are both GOOD hormones. We need both of these hormones to be at the right level and in balance with each other to feel our best. These hormones fluctuate all cycle long in a rhythmical pattern and things can be off at any point in this cycle. Period problems and PMS arise when the balance between these two hormones is off.
Making sure your foundations for health are in place is key for maintaining a healthy menstrual cycle and balanced hormones. These foundations should not be skipped!
The foundations include:
- A general healthy diet that is low in sugar, alcohol and inflammatory foods (i.e. sugar, dairy, gluten, animal protein and vegetable oils)
- Making sure you are getting adequate sleep and exercise
- Managing your stress and making sure you are getting enough rest and repair time.
Common patterns of imbalance:
- High estrogen can be caused by actual high levels of estrogen or it could be a relative dominance if progesterone levels are too low. Either way, the symptoms arise because estrogen is too high relative to progesterone. Symptoms of high estrogen include: bloating and water retention, breast pain/swelling, heavy menstrual bleeding, headaches/migraines, PMS and mood swings, weight gain, uterine fibroids or ovarian cysts.
- The fix:
- To balance estrogen ensure that you are making enough progesterone to buffer estrogen (see below fixes for low progesterone). Lower high estrogen and promote better estrogen clearance from the body with green tea, cruciferous vegetables and flax seeds. Also consider supplements such as Iodine, B6, DIM or Calcium D-glucarate
- Actual progesterone levels might be low or if estrogens are too high there is a relative depletion of progesterone. In either situation, symptoms of low progesterone could be present and include: PMS, heavy frequent menses, spotting leading up to your period, Headaches/Migraine, Water retention/bloating, trouble sleeping. As you can see, these are pretty much the same as the high estrogen symptoms!!
- The fix:
- If estrogen is high, the goal will be to balance estrogen levels as discussed above.
- To increase progesterone we have to fix the entire menstrual cycle starting from Day 1. Follicles take 100+ days to develop, so fixing low progesterone is a long term and ongoing process. First we need to support healthy follicle development and ensure that you are making adequate estrogen (too much estrogen is a problem but so is too little). One of the follicles will mature and release an egg at ovulation time and after ovulation the corpus luteum will produce progesterone.
- To increase progesterone:
- Seed and oil cycling – click here to learn more.
- Supplement with Magnesium and B6 – both of these nutrients help production of progesterone. And they also help lower high estrogen levels.
- Take the herb Chaste Tree Berry – this herb works on the hypothalamus and pituitary to regulate the releasing hormones that increase progesterone production
- Consider antioxidants which help build healthier follicles cells and corpus luteum. Healthy follicles and a properly developed corpus luteum will make more progesterone
- For women in their 40‘s + progesterone naturally declines due to aging ovaries, in this case a progesterone supplement might be needed.
- Low estrogen is most commonly an issue later in life as your near or transition past menopause. But it can also be an issue for some women who have not been able to conceive. We need plenty of estrogen to develop a healthy follicle that will release an egg at ovulation. If there is not enough estrogen, this does not happen.
- Too little estrogen can cause weight gain, trouble sleeping, hot flashes/night sweats, lack of ovulation and trouble getting pregnant. Other symptoms, especially for women in menopause, might include: muscle and joint aches, vaginal dryness, recurrent urinary tract infections, foggy brain and memory issues.
- The fix:
- Seed and oil cycling (for premenopausal cycling women) – click here to learn more.
- Address stress, high cortisol and support the adrenals
- Supplement with herbs that support the ovaries and increase estrogen production: Maca, Black Cohosh and Raspberry
- Ensure that the thyroid is working optimally.
- For women who are close to menopause or past menopause – the ovaries are naturally making less hormone, so in this case the focus is on building up healthy adrenals. After menopause, estrogen and progesterone are primarily made by the adrenals. Herbs with estrogen like action (such as Maca or black cohosh) or bioidentical estrogen might also be needed.
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.