Women really only have two hormones to worry about for the majority of their health issues: they are oestrogen and progesterone and they dominate our lives from puberty to menopause. We take for granted that they can cause us havoc, but do we really know when something is wrong?
What can go wrong?
Today women are the product of several generations of artificial hormone use from the first days of the contraceptive Pill to the newer implants and coils and finally HRT. These all contain synthetic hormones and to be in good hormone health women need progesterone, the natural hormone, as that is the only thing that will balance excess oestrogen.
Oestrogen is essential, but when found in excess in the body from artificial hormones, its presence in our food and water as residues from pesticides and plastics, we get out of balance. This has come to be known as oestrogen dominance and was a term first used by the late Dr John Lee to refer to a state where oestrogen is not being balanced by progesterone in a woman’s body.
In fact there is not one oestrogen, but three: oestradiol, oestrone and oestriol. The relative amounts of these three oestrogens to each other vary at different times in a woman’s life and all three are secreted in the ovaries, adrenal glands, placenta and fatty tissue. Whatever your age may be, these oestrogens need to be balanced by progesterone to prevent the benefits of oestrogen being outweighed by its potential problems. Excess oestrogen is linked to breast and uterine cancer, breast tenderness, heavy menstrual bleeding, PMS and PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) as well as the many symptoms of menopuase including hot flashes, mood swings and fatigue.
What are the symptoms?
It is fairly simple to see if you have oestrogen dominance by looking at the list of the effects of progesterone and oestrogen listed here. If you have a lot on the oestrogen side then you may want to look at redressing the balance.
Effects of Oestrogen
- Increases breast and endometrial cancer risk
- Stimulates breast tissue – tenderness
- Creates proliferation of the womb lining
- Increases body fat
- Fluid retention
- Suppresses action of thyroid
- Increases blood clotting
- Decreases libido
- Interferes with blood sugar levels
- Reduces zinc and retention of copper
- Reduces cell oxygen
- Slows bone breakdown
Effects of Progesterone
- Protects the breast
- Stabilises the womb lining
- Protects the breast
- Helps break down fat
- Natural diuretic
- Facilitates thyroid function
- Normalises clotting mechanism
- Increases libido
- Stabilises blood sugar
- Normalises zinc and copper
- Restores cell oxygen
- Builds up bone
What can you do to stay in balance?
Oestrogen dominance can occur at any age and a first step is to look at your lifestyle. The basic building blocks of optimal hormone balance start with a good wholefood diet, regular exercise and stress reduction as that can play a major part in most hormonal symptoms.
Supplementing with bioidentical natural progesterone will also be necessary to get your hormones back into balance if you have a number of oestrogen dominance symptoms. Because of the confusion between natural progesterone and synthetic progestins do make sure you get the real deal and not a chemical substitute. You need a safe, guaranteed source and that is normally listed as USP progesterone so always check the ingredients list to make sure.