Good health is all about balance, and your body is naturally equipped to maintain this balance by regulating everything from blood sugar to hormones. But there are moments when this equilibrium is destroyed, and when this happens to your hormones, the repercussions can be immense.
According to a study published in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy in 2018, very high or very low levels of estrogen – which is known as the “female hormone” – are linked to the occurrence of acute and chronic diseases. Estrogen dominance, or the state in which the levels of estrogen far outweigh the levels of progesterone in the body, is a grave concern because it’s linked to a higher prevalence of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), infertility, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, autoimmune diseases, neoplasms and gynecomastia among women.
Why estrogen dominance occurs
High levels of estrogen in the body are likely to occur with age, which is why it’s usually associated with perimenopause and menopause. However, increased estrogen levels are also side-effects of medications and hormone replacement therapies. In certain situations, your body might have exceptionally low levels of testosterone and progesterone, which can also tamper with the balance and cause estrogen dominance.
Recognising the signs of estrogen dominance
Whatever the core cause might be, diagnosing estrogen dominance is very important, not only because it causes many other complications and diseases, but also since the treatment for estrogen dominance is a delicate process and can take some time to take effect. If any of the following signs show up, get in touch with a gynaecologist to get screened for estrogen dominance.
1. Mood swings: These are usually a sign of hormonal changes. If you’re getting dramatic mood swings without any known reason (like PCOS, birth control pills or pregnancy) then consult with a doctor.
2. Low libido: Women with estrogen dominance might experience a dip in their sexual drive levels since the progesterone levels are too low.
3. Increased PMS: If your premenstrual symptoms are more severe than before, this could be a sign that your estrogen levels are shooting up.
4. Irregular periods: Irregular periods, sudden heavy or light flows, etc are sure-shot signs of hormonal imbalance.
5. Bloating: Most women have come to realize exactly when during their menstrual cycle they are the most bloated. This bloating time of your cycle will change if you have estrogen dominance.
6. Weight gain: If you’re putting on weight without any evident change in your diet, exercise, sleep or other lifestyle behaviours, then the cause might be hormonal imbalance, like a spike in estrogen.
7. Anxiety: Too much estrogen can not only cause mood swings but also exacerbate anxiety levels. Anxiety in turn can cause physical symptoms like palpitations, panic attacks, etc.
8. Hair loss: Hair loss usually occurs due to perimenopause and menopause, but if you’re too young then estrogen dominance can be the main cause.
9. Sleep issues: Hormonal imbalances often lead to disturbed sleep, insomnia and other sleep disorders.
10. Fatigue: Given all the other symptoms of estrogen dominance, especially sleep problems, feeling fatigued or too tired is also a common sign of this condition.
11. Hot flashes: Hot flashes and night sweats are predominantly linked to hormonal changes in women, so if you have this symptom, do visit a doctor.
12. Brain fog: The inability to concentrate, think clearly and remember details – also known as brain fog – can occur due to estrogen dominance.