What is Estrogen Dominance?
By: Dr. Jacquelyn Paykel, MD, FACOG
The term estrogen dominance (ESD) refers to a relative deficiency of progesterone in relation to estrogen levels in the body. Symptoms of estrogen dominance include:
- Breast pain
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Decreased sex drive
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Weight gain (hips, waist, thighs)
- Foggy thinking
- Growth in uterine fibroids
Conditions associated with estrogen dominance include premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMMD), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), infertility, peri-menopausal symptoms and sometimes postmenopausal bleeding.
ESD symptoms may range from slightly annoying to completely disruptive in a woman’s day-to-day life. However, we must remember that a woman’s long-term health suffers when these conditions are not addressed. ESD predisposes women to insulin resistance, diabetes, other endocrine disorders, elevated triglycerides and cholesterol, hypertension, breast cancer, uterine cancer, etc.
Many healthcare providers will correct the symptoms of ESD by prescribing oral contraceptive pills that contain synthetic estrogen and progestin. This may help minimize or eliminate the symptoms of ESD. However it does not address the underlying reason that estrogen dominance exists in the first place.
Reducing estrogen production and consumption (e.g. weight normalization, specific dietary changes, daily exercise, limiting exposure to environmental estrogens and stress reduction) in conjunction with increasing progesterone ovarian production or replacement with natural progesterone should be the primary goal.
About Dr. Paykel
Jacquelyn M. Paykel, MD, FACOG is a board certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist with fellowship training in Integrative Medicine. She completed her medical residency at the University of Wisconsin and her fellowship at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine under the direction of Dr. Andrew Weil.
Dr. Paykel is an Assistant Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, WI. In addition to Obstetrics, Gynecology and Integrative Medicine, she specializes in Menopausal Medicine (including hormone therapy) and Female Sexual Health.