Estrogen and testosterone are two steroid hormones both found in males and females, although in different ratios.
For women, estrogen, along with progesterone, is the more dominant hormone. Estrogen is mainly responsible for the development of female characteristics and progesterone plays a role in menstruation and pregnancy.
On the other hand, testosterone is the main hormone for men and is responsible for the development of dominant male traits, including sexuality, muscle, fat, and bone characteristics.
Imbalance in the ratios among one’s hormones can lead to unflattering physical attributes such as weight gain or presence of traits from one’s opposite sex. At the physiological level, more subtle effects due to excessive or dwindling levels of any of these hormones may also lead to mood changes or even decreased sex drive.
One particular hormonal imbalance which can happen to both men and women is increased estrogen in excess levels also known as estrogen dominance.
Extra Estrogen : Causes
In women, estrogen levels increase for the following reasons:
- Medical conditions: overweight, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Tumors in the ovaries or the adrenal glands
- Certain medications like steroids, estrogen-containing drugs, ampicillin, phenothiazines, and tetracyclines
On the other hand, high estrogen may occur in men due to:
- Increased fat relative to muscle, obesity
- Excessive testosterone therapy
- High base estrogen levels
Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen dominance in both sexes may also be exhibited differently. In women, high estrogen symptoms include:
- Irregular menstrual period and worse premenstrual syndrome
- Swelling and tenderness of the breasts
- Fibrocystic developments (benign tumors) in the breasts
Males also have their share of high estrogen problems:
- Gynecomastia (a.k.a. “man boobs” or enlarged breasts)
- Sexual dysfunctions including poor erection and infertility
Moreover, both sexes may actually suffer from the following:
- Weight gain
- Decreased sex drive
- Emotional disturbances or moodiness, anxiety, and even depression
The opposite of high estrogen is not any better. Lower estrogen levels can only lead to a different set of physiological disturbances for both males and females. Some bad effects of high estrogen can also be exhibited during low estrogen levels such as weight gain and reduced sex drive for both sexes.
Let us recall that estrogen does the following:
- maintains bone mass,
- has roles in delaying skin aging,
- influences brain functions including memory and motor control,
- regulates signaling related to cardiovascular functions,
- plays a role in blood clotting, maintaining the thickness and strength of the urethral lining and the vaginal wall
- has roles in the male reproductive functions and influences fertility, and
- can even influence skeletal muscle mass and muscle strength
This means that if your estrogen levels are too low, you could suffer from early skin ageing, weak bones, and problems with some brain functions, among others.
The key is truly in the balance of these hormones but that is also the tricky part. But before you give up, let us review the roles of estrogen and the positive impacts of maintaining this hormone at optimal levels.
How to Balance Body Estrogen Levels
Balancing hormones is easier said than done. Cellular feedbacks in our body monitor estrogen levels relative to other hormones, all while considering our genetic predispositions, diet, current health practices, and even medications, if any.
We are however not quite helpless. We can find a way to manage these hormonal fluctuations taking place in the human body. If you are determined to have your sex drive back as soon as possible and get rid of that extra belly fat, check the following ways on how you can conquer estrogen dominance.
1> The Pharmaceutical Way
One way to control the estrogen levels is through supplements. This is helpful especially for those who need fast results or have genetic predispositions that render their modulation efforts futile.
There are two categories for estrogen-blocking supplements. Both of which are actually mainly used in addressing breast cancer:
- SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator): As the name implies, SERMs are different compounds that may interact or bind with estrogen receptors whether to stimulate (agonist) or prevent (antagonist) the production of estrogen as a way to control its levels. Despite these benefits, SERM use also has its disadvantages including thromboembolic disorders and in some worse cases, uterine cancer.
- AI (Aromatase Inhibitors): The use of AIs is another way to control for high estrogen by directly inhibiting its production. However, just like SERMs, this therapy can have adverse effects especially when it depletes too much estrogen. AI effects on men have also been studied.
For men, if you want to take this path, you may first consult your doctor or start checking out estrogen blockers which can lower your feminine hormones and boost your manliness. As for women, these therapies are usually administered for actual medical conditions like osteoporosis or cancer so it is better to consult with your physician first.
2> The Natural Route
For regular people without any significant medical conditions, there’s nothing that a healthy lifestyle or balanced diet and regular exercise can’t achieve. This is actually the method we high recommend. It’s generally safer, for starters.
To optimize your routine with estrogen dominance in mind, consider following the tips below.
Many natural products can act as aromatase inhibitors. These include:
- Red wine and grape seed extract
- White button mushrooms
A high-fiber, and vegetables-rich diet is also recommended. Particularly consuming cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, maca, kale, brussels sprouts and cauliflower also helps as these contain estrogen-regulating compounds and zinc for an extra testosterone boost.
You should also match the healthy diet with vigorous training for the ultimate fat-reducing program. Overweight and obese people are more at risk in developing high estrogen levels as fat stores are able to produce estrogen which leads to more fat and the vicious cycle ensues.
In addition to this, avoid high amounts of alcohol. The liver is the main organ responsible for metabolizing estrogen. Therefore, excess alcohol will impair the process and will result in an accumulation of excess estrogen in the body.
Wrapping it Up: Consider a Lifestyle Overhaul
There is no sure-win formula to battle estrogen dominance overnight. Every individual, male or female, will have their relative normal hormonal ratios with respect to their genetic predisposition and lifestyle.
Remember that people can always start with healthy living. Don’t skip your veggies especially cruciferous ones. Cut down on processed carbs and settle for a high-fiber diet instead (with complex carbohydrates). Exercise while you’re at it.
But if your efforts come to naught, don’t hesitate to ask help from your physician who may even recommend you a prescription or supplements which are worth the try.