Have you been experiencing low energy, poor performance, an inability to build muscle and not much appetite for sex? There might be a problem with your hormones, particularly your ratio of estrogen and testosterone (yes ladies, testosterone applies to you as well).
One of the most common hormonal imbalances is excess estrogen, which will affect everything from weight gain to sex drive. However, you can balance your hormones back to normal the natural way and make sure estrogen dominance will not happen to you in the first place.
What is estrogen dominance?
This is a condition where your estrogen levels are higher than normal. The consequence is a decrease in testosterone levels as well as an increase in cortisol (the catabolic stress hormone). Testosterone exists in small amounts in women too and just as for guys, it highly correlates with your appetite for sex as well as your ability to build and maintain muscle mass.
A condition of excess estrogen is bad for many things. It’s bad for building muscle, bad for weight loss. It’s bad for your health. Basically it’s bad for just about everything.
No hormone in the body is ever good when it is presented in higher than normal amounts for extended periods of time.
Estrogen is an important sex hormone in both men and women. It is needed in higher levels in women. Men produce estrogen mainly from the aromatization of testosterone (the process that converts testosterone into estrogen). Women do this too but their ratio of estrogen to testosterone is naturally much higher than in men.
You know what they say about too much of something good being equally bad? That applies to estrogen, and you need to control it.
What causes estrogen dominance?
One of the main and most common causes of estrogen dominance is exposure to phyto-estrogens and xeno-estrogens. Phyto-estrogens are plant-based estrogens. Xeno-estrogens are artificial estrogens created by man. Both of these mimic estrogenic activity. Exposure to these compounds would mean higher estrogenic activity in your body.
Too much body fat is also another common cause of excessive estrogen. The aromatization process happens within the fat cells. If you have lots of body fat, you are providing more areas for the aromatization process to create estrogen.
Stress is another notorious cause of higher-than-normal estrogen levels. Stress promotes the production and release of cortisol, a stress hormone. Progesterone, another sex hormone that helps keep estrogen levels in check, in the precursor of cortisol. So, if you need more cortisol (because of high stress levels), you will use up more progesterone. In the end, there will be less progesterone to regulate estrogen levels, and this is when estrogen levels start to rise to new highs from excess stress.
What often happens in a state of estrogen dominance?
One vital event happens that can push things to snowball towards a more serious condition is fat accumulation.
We now know that aromatization happens in the fat cells.
Estrogen promotes more fat to be produced and stored.
It’s goes like this:
Estrogen levels rise and promote more fat formation and storage. Then there will be more fat cells in the body, where more aromatization can happen.
This sets off a vicious cycle that will worsen estrogen dominance more and more.
It will also decrease your lipolysis rate, which is the process that breaks down fats for use as energy production for various bodily processes. Decreased lipolysis will support more fats to be stored and basically stall any weight loss.
Increased estrogen will also inhibit the production of testosterone and DHT (dihydrotestosterone), causing sexual problems for both women and men.
All these events join to form a negative cycle that ultimately leads to higher estrogen levels and worsening of symptoms.
What are the core symptoms of estrogen dominance?
Symptoms that may occur include the following:
- Increased body fat
- Low libido
- Low energy
- Mood swings and/or depression (think PMS 24/7)
- Faster muscle breakdown (muscle atrophy)
- Difficulty gaining lean muscle despite diet and exercise
- Inability to lose weight even when dieting
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Breast enlargement (which is very undesirable for men, also called gyno)
What can you do?
Most men and women immediately reach for medications that block estrogen. These are effective but the side effects can be equally undesirable. They are also unsuitable for long term use or as protection.
These medications block estrogen too effectively, which is turn can easily result in too little estrogen. This is equally bad. Symptoms of too little estrogen include:
- In men, difficulty sustaining erection (estrogen in the right amounts is needed to get their manhood up and have it stay up)
- Unable to orgasm
- Reduced bone mineral density (can lead to increased risk for fractures)
- Reduced libido (too little and too much won’t help)
- Brain fog
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Cardiovascular complications
Natural ways to combat estrogen dominance
The first and most important step is to keep your body from getting exposed to xeno-estrogens.
Stop eating and drinking stuff that comes in plastic (especially when hot) and contains anything artificial. Processed meat products, eggs, dairy and dairy products from non-organic animal sources should be avoided as well. They often contain growth hormones and artificial estrogens.
Do not drink from plastic bottles and most important of all, do not heat your food in the microwave in plastic boxes! Get a glass container with a plastic lid instead that you can remove when heating.
Stop drinking beer. If you must (well, on occasions, that is), drink red wine instead. It is rich in resveratrol that improve hormonal balance while regulating estrogen-binding activity. Resveratrol is a healthy phyto-estrogen.
Wait, aren’t phyto-estrogens bad?
Yes, but not all of them. There are certain phyto-estrogens that can boost testosterone and combat estrogen dominance. Soy phyto-estrogens, for instance, are too estrogenic for most people to consume on a regular basis. Resveratrol is helpful for restoring hormonal balance, it can block the negative effects of excess estrogen levels.
Eat more cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli. These are rich in DIM or diindolylmethane, which helps metabolize estrogen and turn it into less potent forms.
Other natural compounds that can help block estrogen and improve testosterone levels are:
- Tongkat Ali – boosts testosterone and is a natural estrogen blocker that can be as potent as prescription SERM (selective estrogen receptor modulator) drugs such as Novaldex. Great for women to boost sex drive too!
- Pine Pollen – can help rebalance hormones, especially if your testosterone levels are running low.
- Zinc – used for enzyme production, including enzymes that boosts testosterone production and inhibits aromataste; found in foods such as oysters.
- Indole-3-carbinol – works similarly to DIM; also found in cruciferous vegetables
- Calcium-D-gluconate – helps improve estrogen metabolism; found in fruits and vegetables such as apples, citrus fruits, legumes and cruciferous vegetables.
Going natural is the best way to combat estrogen dominance and prevent it in the first place. Get a grip on your hormones by taking these natural compounds and eating the right foods, you’ll experience improvements in no time!
“Alex Eriksson is the founder of Anabolic Health, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Check out www.anabolichealth.com to learn more about Alex and his work. You can also find him on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.”