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E & P balance

If you haven’t seen my previous post on E & P, take a look before reading further :) It will really help bring this whole concept together, I promise!

When talking about E & P there is one MAJOR concept we like to discuss...BALANCE !

When we talk about estrogen excess and deficiency, it is usually an imbalance of estrogen relative to progesterone. This post is about what occurs if E & P becoming imbalanced.

The most common case of this is referred to as : Estrogen dominance

Estrogen dominance

Estrogen dominance refers to too much estrogen RELATIVE to progesterone (too little progesterone).

Remember how we talked about how the second half of the cycle is progesterone’s time to shine? Often times symptoms that occur during this part of the cycle can signify that estrogen is in excess and progesterone is in deficiency .

The trouble time for symptoms:

  • the week before we get our period... sounds about right!

How can estrogen become dominant?

  • stress : is our hormone cascade getting shifted away from progesterone and towards cortisol?

  • poor diet: are we getting the right precursors? is our body in a thriving state?

  • birth control: goal is to prevent ovulation and without it we don’t make as much progesterone

  • our microbiome: certain bacteria can allow for recirculation of estrogen in our body

  • lack of ovulation

  • xeno-estrogens: substances we use in everyday life that cause hormone disruption in our bodies : pesticides, soaps and cosmetics, plastic bags and water bottles

Signs and symptoms:

One of my profs once told us to think of E & P in this way: think of estrogen as your old, bossy and bratty sister... and progesterone as your nice, kind and delicate younger sister (sorry older sisters).

When your older sister is acting out, and your younger sister is hiding from the drama, here is what happens:

  • irregular periods

  • heavy bleeding

  • weight gain

  • fibrocystic breasts

  • brain fog

  • mood swings

  • anxiety

  • depressed mood

  • decreased libido

  • food cravings

  • fatigue

Sound like you? I have some info for you at the bottom of the page :)

Since we talked about what occurs during estrogen excess I felt like we should also discuss estrogen deficiency. This can also involve an E & P imbalance but is less common and less overt.

Estrogen deficiency

One of the main ways this occurs: communication breakdown

The signal for our body to make estrogen actually comes from something called our pituitary gland. Our pituitary gland releases two hormones called FSH and LH that basically tell our ovaries: “hey, secrete some estrogen”. Without this communication, we can end up with estrogen deficiency.

How can this happen?

Ever heard of an HPG axis? Otherwise known as Hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, which refers to the teamwork of all three of these components. The hypothalamus is part of the brain, the pituitary gland sits just below it and our gonads are of course, our ovaries.

If one component of this axis or many components aren’t working well together as a team then we can end up with dysfunction including estrogen deficiency.

Lifestyle factors that can affect this pathway and decrease estrogen:

  • over-exercising

  • eating disorders

  • high stress

  • as we age, our ovaries also stop responding as well

Symptoms of low estrogen:

  • absent periods

  • irregular periods

  • increased UTIs

  • hot flashes

  • breast tenderness

  • decreased vaginal lubrication

  • headaches and migraines

  • depression

  • trouble concentrating

  • fatigue

  • dry skin

  • insomnia

Menopause is an interesting case because it is low estrogen.. however there is can also be an estrogen dominance picture. How you might ask? Because although estrogen drops by as much as 60%, progesterone drops by about 90%. This can leave us with a higher estrogen to progesterone ratio = estrogen dominance symptoms. Interesting hey?

So how can you find out if your E & P are in balance?

There are various ways to test your hormone levels – this includes through a blood test or saliva and urine samples. They all have their pros and cons but can be very beneficial in identifying an imbalance and providing guidance on where to focus.

If you just read through this whole post and thought WOW this is me...

I have good news for you: there are many ways in which we can support our body and try and correct the balance between estrogen and progesterone. There are many Naturopathic Doctor’s that are supporting and treating E&P imbalances and it may be something for you to look into.

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