Estrogen excess can be described as too much estrogen in relation to progesterone, mainly in your luteal phase (the phase before your period and after ovulation). It is the most common hormonal imbalance in women.
Excess estrogen is the number one cause of numerous PMS symptoms that make you feel lousy in the days/weeks leading up to your period. It fluctuates the whole month so it’s not to be considered as a “bad” hormone because it is essential for healthy ovulation and menstruation, but where we run into problems is when the ratio of estrogen to progesterone is not in the optimal, balanced ranges.
In your follicular phase, it is normal to have more estrogen in relation to progesterone because your follicles are maturing and your ovaries are producing estrogen to plump up your uterine lining, should your egg become fertilized. That is healthy and to be expected. It’s the 10-14 days after ovulation, when progesterone should be the shining star but is outnumbered by estrogen.
You may be thinking well I don’t care, I don’t want kids yet (or ever). I totally get that, but this is a matter of healthy balanced hormones for ovulation, longevity and overall wellness, so you can feel your best, live in hormone harmony and alleviate pesky or painful PMS symptoms. Each phase of your cycle builds upon one other and your reproductive health is about so much more than just making babies. We really dive into this in my upcoming book!
Think of it this way: you need estrogen for healthy follicles, you need healthy follicles in order to ovulate, you need to ovulate because that is how the corpus luteum is formed which is the only way your body can make progesterone (the calming, mood-stabilizing hormone) and is the only way to ensure that 2 weeks post-ovulation, you will have a REAL period. Each part is connected and reliant on one another!
We love estrogen because makes it your skin glowy and plump, it builds bone and muscle, it slows the aging process, it raises your libido and boosts serotonin (so essential for mood and sleep), but we don’t want too much of it because long-term estrogen excess (over years or decades) increases your risk of breast cancer, other female cancers, fibroids and lack of ovulation which can lead to PCOS and infertility. Symptoms of estrogen excess are not something to ignore. Think of them as internal clues from within that something is not right or could be improved.
How and why does excess estrogen happen?
We live in a world where the amount of chemicals we’re exposed to on a daily basis is in amounts that our bodies have never seen before. Chemicals in our personal care products, household cleaning products, our food supply and from something as simple as the air we breathe from walking outside. This isn’t to scare you, but it is something you need to be aware of because these chemicals make it very difficult for your hormones to be happy, which makes it hard for you to feel happy and healthy.
- Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (personal care and household cleaning products)
- Environmental Toxin Exposure (pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in animal products)
- Stress (emotional, physical, mental, work-related, etc.)
- Poor diet (inflammatory, processed foods, refined sugar)
- Excessive plastic usage (water bottles, packaged foods, BPA-laden cans, cooking in teflon pans)
Symptoms of Estrogen Excess:
Estrogen excess is the most common hormonal imbalance and is often the main culprit of your pesky PMS symptoms. Getting your hormone levels tested is preferred to guesswork, but here are some symptoms/conditions that stem from excess estrogen:
- Bloating and water retention
- Weight gain in hips, butt and thighs (estrogen stimulates fat cells to store more fat)
- Ovarian cysts
- Oily skin and hair
- Breast tenderness and pain, fibrocystic breasts
- Mood swings
- Hair loss
- Heavy periods
- Irregular periods
- Painful cramping
How to Treat Estrogen Excess:
- Detox and love your your liver with fiber rich foods (at least 25 grams of fiber per day) and liver-supporting nutrients (cruciferous vegetables, sulfur-rich foods, vitamin C rich foods and legumes). You can also add a DIM supplement to help move estrogen out of the body.
- Remove endocrine-disrupting chemicals from all products (cleaning and beauty products) and switch to products that are plant based and actually natural – read the ingredients even if the label says “natural” because that truly means nothing! Use the Think Dirty app or the EWG Skin Deep database to check what score your products receive.
- Nourish and treat your microbiome health (eliminate inflammatory, processed foods or foods you are sensitive to, buy organic produce as often as you can, eat raw sauerkraut and kimchi, include probiotic-rich foods and a high-quality probiotic supplements, add a digestive enzyme before meals).
- Incorporate these essential hormone-balancing supplements, especially if you are plant-based.
- Try the naturopathic method of Seed Cycling (recipe linked for my Seed Cycling Energy Balls)
- 7-8 hours of high-quality sleep (see this post on CALM magnesium tea)
- Stress less, for real. Find ways to manage stress and reduce cortisol (meditation, exercise, mindfulness, relaxation activities, gratitude, sleep, etc.
- Drink my Estrogen Detox Smoothie below! Enjoy it in the ovulatory and luteal phases, especially 🙂
A liver-loving and hormone-loving smoothie to help move the excess estrogen down the right detox pathway and promptly out of your body!
3 cups kale (or spinach)
2 stalks celery
1/2 peeled cucumber
2-inch peeled knob of fresh ginger
1 small lemon (remove peel if not organic)
2 cups frozen mango (mango is especially tasty with the fresh lemon)
2 small handfuls fresh cilantro
4 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1-2 scoops vegan plant protein
3 cups filtered water
Add all ingredients to a high speed blender.
Blend until smooth and creamy!
Serve immediately. Enjoy.
*Choose organic produce as much as possible to avoid pesticides and chemicals. Refer to the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen for more info on what to buy organic, and what to buy conventional. The list changes year to year on the EWG website.