A short guide to estrogen and estrogen dominance
Let’s talk about estrogen because frankly we don’t and it’s important in so many ways!
Estrogen is a hormone you’ll want to get to know if you care about:
- Clear, healthy skin
- Having a libido
- Weight maintenance
- Building muscle
- Fat loss
- Blood sugar balance
- Reducing PMS
- Breast health
- Fertility & Pregnancy
- Bone & Heart health
- Memory & Brain health
- Vaginal & Urinary health
- Feeling your best
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A quick estrogen overview
Let me get us started with a quick overview about estrogen:
- Estrogen is ONE of our sex hormones
- Men have estrogen too but we have more.
- Estrogen plays an important role in nearly 400 functions in the body. Due to this it is health-supportive, meaning that it supports energy, sleep, libido, mood, skin, metabolism and more when it’s in optimal amounts throughout our cycle, or when we stop cycling.
- Estrogen fluctuates with our cycle, for those women who have one. It climbs during the follicular and ovulatory phases and is the highest mid-cycle around ovulation. In the second half of the cycle, it drops and progesterone is boosted, when we ovulate, that is.
- If estrogen remains dominant during the second half of the cycle that’s called being estrogen dominant, which can sometimes happen. There are many reasons for that.
- Estrogen dominance can happen during perimenopause when there’s a shift in ovulation. As well as in menopause when estrogen and progesterone are out of balance.
- We produce three main types of estrogen: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3).
- Estrone is produced by our fat cells. The more we have, the more estrone we produce. Furthermore estrone can be converted to estradiol.
- Estrone and estradiol influence our body shape (estradiol = pear, estrone = apple).
- We need several nutrients to produce estrogen including zinc, magnesium, boron, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E and more
- Estrogen begins to decline in our 30s or 40s, depending on the women. Many lifestyle factors can affect when this happens and our experience with it. In menopause natural estrogen is at its lowest.
- Heavy training, stress, head trauma, birth control, hysterectomies, or other factors can suppress our natural health-supportive estrogen.
- Before menopause, when estrogen isn’t flowing (for any reason above), our period can stop which turns down progesterone too.
Causes and factors of estrogen dominance
Estrogen is also a “use it and lose it” hormone, meaning once it’s used we need to package it up and ship it out via bile & poop. When it sticks around too long it gets recirculated. We don’t want this as it can lead to estrogen dominance – having more estrogen than we need at certain (or all) times of the month.⠀
This can be an issue if digestion isn’t moving along optimally. That means that pooping 1 to 3 times a day is optimal and you might notice you’ll feel even better with 2 or 3 times a day.⠀
It can also happen if we’re exposed to too many estrogen-like chemicals in our environment, plastics, household and beauty products. These are called xenoestrogens. (Read up on them here.) Alcohol can raise estrogen too.
Estrogen is broken down and packaged up in the liver and gut in 3 different phases. A healthy liver and gut help these phases go smoothly, which we want if we want to feel, be, look our best.⠀
This happens with the help of many important nutrients including:⠀
- B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12⠀
- Vitamin C⠀
- Amino acids (from protein)⠀
- Phospholipids (from fats)⠀
- Glutathione (comprised of amino acids)⠀
You’ll get these nutrients from foods which is one reason optimal nutrition for women is so important.
Therefore following fads, restricting food groups or prioritizing weight loss over nutrient content could leave us with suboptimal levels of these important nutrients. ⠀
That means you’ll have suboptimal processing and elimination of estrogen. Which in turn leads to estrogen dominance symptoms and not feeling or performing our best. It’s also been connected with breast health and cancer, which we don’t want.
Take my quiz to find out if you are experiencing estrogen dominance and what you can do about it.⠀
Patel S, Homaei A, Raju AB, Meher BR. Estrogen: The necessary evil for human health, and ways to tame it. Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Jun;102:403-411. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.03.078. Epub 2018 Mar 22. PMID: 29573619.
Rettberg JR, Yao J, Brinton RD. Estrogen: a master regulator of bioenergetic systems in the brain and body. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2014 Jan;35(1):8-30. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Aug 29. PMID: 23994581; PMCID: PMC4024050.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, manage, or treat disease or serious conditions. Always check with your doctor before making any changes. It’s important to consult a well-informed health practitioner for personal advice about your situation before relying on general information — we’re all wonderfully unique.
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Laurie Villarreal, FNLP, CHWC, FNS, LMC, CPT, RYT
Hi, I'm Laurie, a functional nutritionist and board certified health coach, athlete, dog-mom, and biohacking adventure-lover. After having struggled for years to find lasting solutions for my own debilitating hormone-related symptoms, I created my online practice to begin helping other active, driven women get the support they need. I now help women around the world elevate their health, energy, business and life by optimizing their hormones with personalized nutrition and lifestyle tweaks. Together, we discover new tools and strategies that keep you showing up at your best so you can play even bigger in your life and work.
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