How to combat oestrogen dominance
By Juliana Kassianos, Transformational Fertility Coach, Yoga Teacher and Founder of The School of Fertility
WHAT IS OESTROGEN?
Oestrogen is the primary female sex hormone. It’s produced mainly by the ovaries, but also by other tissues such as the adrenal glands, fat cells and those that can synthesize oestrogen from androgens.
WHAT IS OESTROGEN DOMINANCE?
Too much oestrogen or too little progesterone to balance out the oestrogen. Symptoms can include bloating (water retention), mood swings, low sex drive and rapid weight gain.
Progesterone is a female hormone, produced by the ovaries, adrenal glands and placenta. It prepares the uterus wall lining so that a fertilised egg can implant and develop.
HOW TO LOWER OESTROGEN LEVELS
REDUCE COFFEE INTAKE
Research shows women who consume 4–5 cups of coffee daily (500 milligrams of caffeine), produce 70% more oestrogen in the early follicular phase of their cycle.
AVOID SOY PRODUCE
Soy food produce contain isoflavones; compounds that bind to oestrogen receptors and can exhibit a weak oestrogen-like effect. Studies on mice show that neonatal treatment with Gen, the primary phytoestrogen in soy, caused “abnormal estrous cycles, altered ovarian function, early reproductive senescence, and subfertility/infertility at environmentally relevant doses”.
AVOID FATTY MEAT
Xenohormones are often found in the fat cells of animal meat.
Studies have identified a potent phytoestrogen in hops, which can also be detected in beer, but at much lower levels. Phytoestrogens mimic natural oestrogen, therefore, you may wish to reduce your intake of beer or even better, cut it out completely.
EAT ORGANIC FOOD
Environmental oestrogens can be found in pesticides and chemicals. Either wash food thoroughly or buy organic produce.
EAT MORE FIBRE
Fibre helps the body get rid of excess oestrogen. Eat plenty of wholegrains, vegetables and fruit in your diet.
EAT CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES
Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, kale and broccoli have a compound in them called Di-indolyl-methane (DIM), which is important for flushing excess oestrogens and toxins out of the body. Lightly cook them so they don’t interfere with the thyroid as they are goitrogens (cooking deactivates this effect).
DRINK/EAT FROM BPA-FREE CONTAINERS
A lot of plastic contains Bisphenol A (BPA), which is a xenoestrogen. Avoid eating/drinking from plastic containers, including take-away cups with plastic lids, as well as heating food within plastic containers. Drink from a BPA-free flask.
If you’re overweight, try to lose some extra pounds as excess fat cells result in the production of higher levels of oestrogen.
WHAT ARE PHYTO-OESTROGENS?
Plant compounds that have an oestrogen-like effect in the body.
FOODS THAT CONTAIN HIGH AMOUNTS OF PHYTO-OESTROGENS
Pulses like chickpeas
Linseeds (Flax seeds)
INCREASE PROGESTERONE LEVELS
Participates in the synthesis of progesterone. Studies show that supplementation of vitamin C increases progesterone levels in infertile women with luteal phase defect. Good food sources include citrus fruits, yellow peppers and kiwi.
Contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity. It can help to maintain optimal levels of progesterone and break down the levels of oestrogen. Supplementation has been found to lengthen the luteal phase of the cycle for those women with luteal phase defect. One study showed poor vitamin B6 status decreased the probability of conception and contributed to the risk of early miscarriage. Good food sources include eggs, oatmeal and pistachio nuts. NB. The Department of health advises if you take supplements of vitamin B6, not to take more than 10 milligrams a day unless advised otherwise by your doctor. Be aware that if you take more than 200 milligrams a day for a long period, it can lead to peripheral neuropathy (loss of feeling in the arms and legs).
VITEX AGNUS CASTUS
Check with a qualified herbalist how this can help to regulate progesterone production.
Identification of a potent phytoestrogen in hops (Humulus lupulus L.) and beer. Milligan SR et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Jun;84(6):2249-52. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/10372741.
Early follicular phase hormone levels in relation to patterns of alcohol, tobacco, and coffee use. Lucero J et al. Fertil Steril. 2001 Oct;76(4):723-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/11591405
Adverse effects on female development and reproduction in CD-1 mice following neonatal exposure to the phytoestrogen genistein at environmentally relevant doses. Je erson WN, Padilla-Banks E, Newbold RR. Biol Reprod. 2005 Oct;73(4):798-806. Epub 2005 Jun 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15930323
Effects of ascorbic acid supplementation on serum progesterone levels in patients with a luteal phase defect. Henmi H et al. Fertil Steril. 2003 Aug;80(2):459-61. http://www. fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(03)00657-5/pdf
Preconception B-vitamin and homocysteine status, conception, and early pregnancy loss. Ronnenberg AG et al. Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Aug 1;166(3):304-12. Epub 2007 May 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17478435