Estrogen is important for the female body, but having too much of it can be problematic. Learn how to reverse estrogen dominance naturally and protect your body from its unpleasant symptoms.

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Estrogen is extremely important for women’s health. Estrogen helps manage our brain, bones, cholesterol, and other tissues, while feminizing our bodies. But, having too much estrogen can cause unpleasant symptoms and put you at risk for certain conditions and cancers.

Estrogen dominance is a hormonal imbalance in which a woman’s estrogen levels are too high. Estrogen dominance can be categorized in two ways: frank estrogen dominance and relative estrogen dominance. While both have similar symptoms, the causes differ.

Frank estrogen dominance is an excess of estrogen on its own, while other sex hormone levels (such as testosterone and progesterone) are at normal levels.

Relative estrogen dominance occurs when a woman’s estrogen levels are elevated in relation to her progesterone levels, which are often too low.

Causes of Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance is a hormonal imbalance that is not uncommon in today’s world.

There are several reasons a specific imbalance such as estrogen dominance can occur. Often, this condition is due to a combination of factors. Here are a few common reasons for estrogen dominance.

Estrogen Exposure

Girls and women around the world are being exposed to more estrogen in our diets and environments than ever before. Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like compounds found in foods like soy and flax. When consumed excessively, phytoestrogens from foods can lead to estrogen dominance.

Xenoestrogens are human-made compounds that mimic our natural estrogens, causing estrogen dominance. These compounds are found in synthetic hormones such as birth control pills, plastics, and common chemicals in household products and cosmetics.

No matter the source, too much exposure to outside estrogens can lead to a hormonal imbalance or estrogen dominance.

Perimenopause

Perimenopause refers to the time period in a woman’s life before menopause officially occurs. This time is characterized by fluctuating hormone levels as the body prepares to transition from its fertile years.

A common cause of estrogen dominance–and subsequent unpleasant symptoms–during perimenopause is low progesterone as ovulation begins to slow down. This is because adequate progesterone levels can only be produced by successful ovulation.

For this reason and others, perimenopause is a phase when women may experience low progesterone, high estrogen, and symptoms of estrogen dominance.

Progesterone Deficiency

With relative estrogen dominance, estrogen is too high in relation to progesterone. If adequate progesterone is not produced, estrogen dominance often occurs.

Some causes of progesterone deficiency include stress and unsuccessful ovulation. This can lead to estrogen dominance for women of any reproductive age.

Poor gut health

An enzyme called beta-glucuronidase is produced in your gut by certain bacteria. If you have poor gut health, then you could produce too much of this enzyme. This will then cause metabolized estrogen to re-enter circulation in the body and cause symptoms of estrogen dominance.

Also, poor gut health usually equals poor digestion. Digestion and successful elimination is crucial to rid your body of excess hormones. See my related article with Perimenopause Bloating Remedies.

two women eating together in a kitchen.

Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance

Likely, you’ll know if you have a hormonal imbalance. Estrogen dominance in particular has a range of unpleasant symptoms that can be hard to ignore.

Common symptoms of estrogen dominance include:

  • Heavy or painful periods and/or fibroids, including the condition endometriosis
  • Premenstrual syndrome, often characterized by cramps, fatigue, and mood swings
  • Headaches, including premenstrual or menstrual migraines
  • Weight gain localized in the abdomen, hips, and thighs
  • Low libido
  • Bloating around or during your period
  • Tender or swollen breasts around or during your period
  • Irregular or abnormal cycles

7 Ways to Reverse Estrogen Dominance Naturally

1. Avoid environmental estrogens

If you want to get your estrogen balance back under control, you may have to make some changes to your environment.

Try to avoid the xenoestrogens mentioned above, including chemicals, plastics, and synthetic hormones.

Avoid plastic whenever possible (especially in the kitchen!) and switch to safer skincare and household products. The EWG Skin Deep database is a great resource for checking your products for chemicals that should be avoided.

variety of cosmetics on a table.

2. Consider supplements

The supplement DIM, short for 3,3′-Diindolylmethan, contains concentrated amounts of the compounds found in cruciferous vegetables. It can support your liver’s detoxifying abilities so estrogen is successfully metabolized.

You may also want to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about supplementing with micronized progesterone or progesterone cream. Both of these can help balance female hormones during perimenopause when natural levels of progesterone decrease.

You can purchase both DIM and progesterone creams online, but you’ll need to get a prescription if you want to take oral micronized progesterone. Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your supplement routine.

Also, don’t miss my related articles on the best supplements to reduce estrogen dominance, best supplements for hormone balance, the best supplements for women in their 30s and the best supplements for women over 50.

3. Eat more fiber

Eat more fiber, especially from fruits and vegetables. The body naturally eliminates excess estrogen with fiber. This is part of your overall digestion; you must be eliminating regularly to rid your body of excess estrogen.

In particular, you may also want to emphasize eating foods like berries, peaches, carrots, and squashes as they have been studied for their role in reducing the incidence of hormone-related breast cancer. This may be due to the fiber and antioxidants contained in these foods.

Carrots are also an interesting food that relates to estrogen. While there is not science to back this up, many women feel like eating at least one raw carrot a day can help flush out excess estrogen. It’s a simple and healthy trick that is worth trying!

Learn more about how to eat more green vegetables. You may also like this article with the best diets to reduce estrogen.

That said, some women who are experiencing estrogen dominance may also benefit from a restricted diet such as a low-histamine diet to help manage symptoms. But, don’t necessarily start restricting your diet until you’ve worked with a functional medicine doctor who can help determine the root causes of your estrogen dominance (find a functional medicine doctor near you).

If you are new to eating healthy, then be sure to get my clean eating shopping list or see my post on how to eat clean. You may also want to check out my clean eating recipe index with hundreds of free recipes!

basket of fresh vegetables on a table.

4. Fix your gut so you have more enzymes that metabolize estrogen

A healthy gut lining and microbiome is essential for producing the right amount of the right enzymes to metabolize estrogen. Do your best to eat lots of healthy foods and avoid too much add sugar or processed foods that are bad for gut health.

Read about the top 10 foods with natural probiotics to help with gut health. You might also want to check out this list of the best gut healing foods.

Other activities that can harm gut health include taking antibiotics, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising enough, not getting enough sleep, and not managing your stress.

If you are experiencing chronic digestive issues, you should talk to your healthcare provider to develop a plan to help reduce gut inflammation and to help improve the integrity of your digestive system.

5. Reduce body fat with a balanced diet and movement

Higher body fat percentages are associated with an excess of estrogen, as estrogen is partially produced by adipose tissue. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider to see if you would benefit from reducing your body fat by a certain amount.

Check out these tips for women who are having trouble losing weight no matter what.

6. Manage stress

Stress robs your body of the resources needed to produce favorable amounts of your sex hormones. When your body is prioritizing making cortisol due to high levels of stress, there isn’t enough pregnenolone left over to make progesterone, causing relative estrogen dominance.

Stress can also suppress ovulation, further decreasing your chances of progesterone production. You may like this article with the best supplements for anxiety or this one on holistic health tips for beginners.

woman writing in a journal on a white table with flowers.

7. Avoid hormonal birth control

Hormonal birth control including the birth control pill, intrauterine devices, or arm implants all replace your body’s natural sex hormones with synthetic hormones.

Hormonal birth control works by flooding your body with synthetic estrogen and progestin to mimic pregnancy so you will not ovulate. The increased levels of these xenoestrogens can lead to estrogen dominance once you stop taking hormonal birth control, as your body attempts to regulate its own hormones and metabolize the synthetic hormones.

Instead of using hormonal birth control that can lead to estrogen dominance, consider non-hormone types of birth control including the fertility awareness method, vasectomy, or other types of natural birth control.

Bonus Recommendation: Consider Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are compounds found in plant foods that resemble our natural estrogen.

There is some evidence that consuming unprocessed forms of phytoestrogens such as whole food soy, garlic, potatoes, apples, pomegranates, and coffee can help balance the body’s production of estrogen.

Try introducing some of these foods into your diet and see if you feel less symptoms of estrogen dominance.

foods high in phytoestrogens on a table.

Conclusions

Estrogen dominance can be caused by environmental estrogen exposure, poor gut health, and often, progesterone deficiency. This condition can cause symptoms like painful periods, PMS, and weight gain and increases the risk of certain cancers.

Estrogen dominance can be addressed naturally by focusing on a nutrient-dense diet, reducing stress, limiting your exposure to environmental estrogens, and improving gut health.  

infographic on 7 ways to reverse estrogen dominance naturally

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Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.