Female Health – Oestrogen Dominance

The female body can feel somewhat like an enigma relaying on a balance of hormones that regulate behaviour, physiology and the ability to reproduce – that’s no mean feat!

Women go through varying life stages regarding their reproductive system, each stage impacted by hormonal health and imbalance which can lead to health issues. Maintaining hormonal balance is challenging in our modern world with the countless environmental factors that face us. The main female sex hormone oestrogen, falls victim of these daily environmental struggles.

The three types of oestrogen are: oestradiol (reproductive years), oestriol (present in large amounts during pregnancy) and oestrone (predominant during and after the menopause).  Oestrogen has many functions from regulating menstrual cycles and fat stores as well as maintaining cholesterol levels, and bone health to helping cognitive function. By-products (often called metabolites) of oestrogen metabolism can sometimes be harmful.

The common term ‘oestrogen dominance’ means that there is too much ‘oestrogenic activity’. When our bodies are not working to their optimum (which can be due to a myriad of reasons), we become unable to eliminate or ‘detox’ effectively meaning we have too much oestrogen and the wrong types of metabolites. Genetics, inflammation, diet, poor sleep, stress and low progesterone are all factors can affect this process.

If these processes or ‘detoxication pathways’ are not working correctly it can lead to various conditions and symptoms including: premenstrual syndrome (PMS), heavy and painful periods, water retention, fibroids, endometriosis, fibrocystic breasts and headaches or migraines.

These little lifestyle changes that seem so insignificant can add up to creating a positive impact on female health.

  • Use natural and organic cosmetics to avoid compounds that act like oestrogen in the body. Beauty and cleaning products can be a source of exposure to many chemicals.
  • Also good for the environment, avoid using plastic containers and cling film that might contain BPAs.
  • Filter your water
  • Exercise regularly
  • Be mindful of your sleep patterns and see if and how they could be improved.
  • Assess the stresses in your life – bringing balance and managing stress is key to hormonal health
  • Try to buy organic produce where possible

Dietary changes – I must stress that these are general, if you have any concerns about ‘oestrogen dominance’ it is always best to consult a nutritional practitioner to get tailored recommendations.

  • Optimise digestion. Part of the detoxification process relies on healthy bowel movements so keeping hydrated and eating good pre-biotic fibre in foods is important.
  • Increase foods rich in anti-oxidants – I feel like I say this to all of my clients whatever the issue but that is because they are so important!
  • Reduce alcohol, sorry to be a kill joy.
  • Have a balanced diet which includes vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale and those rich in phytoestrogens such as flaxseeds, sesame seeds tofu, legumes and tempeh. Soy has been under much controversy as there have been studies showing soy affecting fertility and a breast cancer risk, however there is also research which refutes this showing positive affects for fertility and cancer diagnosis. This demonstrates that much more robust study is needed in this area. Moderate amounts of organic and good quality soy in a healthy balanced diet is the best approach. Consult your nutritional practitioner of you are worried about your individual health concerning oestrogen.
  • Reduce the consumption of refined carbohydrates as it’s important to keep blood sugars balanced for hormonal health.

For some woman targeted nutrition support through supplements can be very beneficial especially during the menopause. Supplement recommendations are very personal however green tea can be beneficial for helping to reduce insulin and circulating oestradiol.