Estrogen dominance is one of the most common hormonal imbalances, this article will guide you on how to reduce high estrogen levels.
Excess estrogen can have a negative impact on the quality of your life and cause a great number of health issues.
If you have high estrogen levels, this article is for you. You'll find out how to naturally reduce high estrogen levels and gain control over your health.
Estrogen dominance can affect both women and men.
What Is Estrogen?
Estrogen, along with progesterone are the main female hormones, but men also need a small amount of estrogen.
Estrogens are steroid hormones and they work by binding to the estrogen receptor, and this is how using phytoestrogens can help to reduce the effect of the elevated estrogen.
There are three different types of estrogen:
- 1Estradiol. This is the strongest form of the three estrogens and is produced in the ovaries. It is the most metabolically active one. In men and women estradiol (also known as oestradiol) helps with bone maintenance, nitric oxide production, and neurotransmitter levels. For women, it is essential for fertility and a healthy menstrual cycle.
- 2Estrone. This is a weaker form of estrogen and is also produced by the ovaries, but also adipose tissue, and the adrenal gland. It is the more dominant of the estrogens in postmenopausal women.
- 3Estriol. This is also a weaker form of estrogen compared to estradiol. It is the weakest form of estrogen in the body and it is important during pregnancy where it is produced by the placenta.
Estrogen or oestrogen is essential, and for some women, especially with menopausal symptoms or who have had a hysterectomy, low estrogen can be a problem leading to symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
However, for many women, it is high estrogen or poor estrogen metabolism that is the cause of a hormonal imbalance.
Do You Have High Estrogen Levels?
There are different signs and symptoms of high estrogen for men and women.
Symptoms of High Estrogen in Women
The symptoms of high estrogen in women can be similar to men except for some key differences with the menstrual cycle and menopause symptoms.
A number of these symptoms are strongly connected to high estrogen levels but it is important to test your hormones because they can also be caused by low progesterone or a testosterone problem.
These symptoms may also be connected to low thyroid function, adrenal issues, or other problems which is why testing is important.
Symptoms of High Estrogen in Men
High estrogen in men usually corresponds with lower testosterone levels which will make symptoms worse. This is another reason why testing is important, it helps check if you have both high estrogen and/or low testosterone levels.
Of course, there can be other reasons for these symptoms but if you tick several of these boxes then this could indicate you have a hormonal balance issue.
Diagnosing High Estrogen Levels
The only way to really know what your hormone levels are is to do a hormone test.
There are three types of hormone tests:
DUTCH Hormone Test
I prefer the DUTCH hormone test. It helps accurately measure sex hormones. The DUTCH test tells us the levels of the 3 different types of estrogen plus how your body is detoxifying the estrogen.
Your body can detoxify estrogen metabolites through 3 different pathways. One is a healthy pathway while the other two can lead to increased cancer risk, cysts, and fibroids in women.
For men, poor estrogen detoxification can increase the risk of prostate problems.
Phase 1 Estrogen Detoxification Pathways
I use SelfDecode to assess if a client has problems with genes connected to detoxification pathways.
Phase 2 Estrogen Detoxification
This is known as methylation and most people associate this with the MTHFR gene, which does play an important role. However, the enzyme that is responsible for estrogen detox is COMT. If you have done a genetic test you can assess your COMT gene.
The DUTCH Complete hormone test measures estradiol, estriol, estrone, and the Phase 1 and methylation pathways.
The DUTCH test will also measure progesterone levels and the balance between estrogen and progesterone. You can still have estrogen dominance with normal estrogen but low progesterone levels.
The DUTCH test will also measure testosterone levels and testosterone metabolisms. High and low testosterone can both be a problem. Plus, the test also measures the more androgenic version of testosterone 5a-DHT which is often high in PCOS, acne, and hair loss.
Finally, the DUTCH test also assesses adrenal function and measures some organic acid markers, these are assessed as they can also affect your sex hormones.
The test kit will be sent straight to you and you won't have to go to the doctor. You just gather the needed samples and send them to our lab. As soon as your samples are analyzed, you will be given a comprehensive action plan to go with the results.
Knowing how your body detoxifies estrogen helps guide the type of treatment that you do to lower your estrogen level. The DUTCH test is also the best option if you have a high breast cancer risk because of your family history.
If you are on the pill, the DUTCH test is not the best option. If you are taking bioidentical hormone therapy then the DUTCH test is a good way to assess you're taking the right amount.
Testing Blood Estrogen Levels
A blood test will usually measure estradiol levels which is the stronger version of estrogen but some labs will also measure serum estrone and serum estriol levels.
A blood test is accurate for measuring estrogen and progesterone levels but it will not measure the estrogen metabolites and methylation of estrogen.
A blood test will show whether you have high oestrogen levels but it will not show why the levels are high like the DUTCH test.
Testing Saliva Hormones
Saliva hormone testing is another way to assess the sex hormones, it is fairly accurate but can be easily influenced by hormone replacement therapy.
Saliva testing is my least favourite way of assessing hormones as it does not give the details as the DUTCH test and it's not as accurate as testing blood.
Timing of Estrogen Test
Estrogen levels also fluctuate through the month, peaking with ovulation before decreasing in the luteal phase of the cycle.
I recommend testing your hormones in the luteal phase of the cycle, which will be around day 19-22. If you want to assess your levels throughout the cycle, the DUTCH Cycle Mapping test measures your hormone levels throughout the cycle.
Normal Estrogen Levels in Women
As levels fluctuate throughout the month this is going to depend on when you do your hormone test.
Hormone testing is usually done around day 3 or 21 of your cycle depending on what you want to assess.
If you are measuring serum hormones, then measuring estradiol along with LH and FSH on day 3 is a good idea to assess PCOS and the brain-ovarian connection.
Estrogen levels peak around day 14 so testing at this time along with progesterone can help assess ovulation.
The reference range for serum hormones varies a lot, so it is important to assess all of your hormones along with signs and symptoms.
The DUTCH test measures the hormones in the luteal phase. This is a better time to assess the hormones when trying to work out if you have estrogen dominance.
The DUTCH hormone test will also give you the optimal hormone reference ranges.
Normal Estrogen Levels in Men
These levels do not fluctuate throughout the month like they do for women, so the timing of the testing does not matter.
If you measure with the DUTCH hormone test you want to be in the range of 0.50 and 2.0, any higher than this means you have estrogen dominance.
The DUTCH test will help you identify if it is an issue with increased aromatase levels that is converting your testosterone to estrogen OR if it is an estrogen detox issue.
With blood testing, you want to make sure that your estrogen is below 35 pg/ml or 100 pmol/L and the units that the lab uses for testing will depend on which country you are in.
Reduce High Estrogen - Liver Detox!
So once you have tested your estrogen levels and you realize they are high - the next step is to improve the detoxification of estrogen.
Estrogen is metabolized by the liver and cleared out of the body through the bowel. If this process is not working optimally it can lead to either high levels of potentially toxic estrogen or reabsorbing estrogen back into circulation.
There are 3 pathways in which estrogen can be metabolized. They are the 2, 4, and 16 Hydroxy estrogen pathways.
The excess estrogen causes many health problems like hormone imbalance in women and excess body fat in men, the real danger is that the estrogen metabolized through the 4 and 16 pathways increases the risk of cancer, especially breast, ovarian. and prostate cancer.
Healthy Estrogen Relies on Good Liver and Gut Function
While a healthy gut can help eliminate excess estrogens from the body, an unhealthy digestive tract that is fuelled by refined carbohydrates, processed foods, gluten, and alcohol can lead to a leaky gut and an up-regulation of an enzyme called b-glucuronidase.
Improve Phase 3 Estrogen Detoxification
While there is Phase 1, 2, and 3 with liver detoxification I always make sure that Phase 3 is working first, because if this is not working then you will simply reabsorb toxins and hormones processed in Phases 1 and 2.
If you experience constipation then you have an issue with Phase 3 detoxification and clearance of estrogen. It is essential that you are having at least one healthy bowel motion every day.
Assess B-Glucurondidase Levels
B-glucuronidase breaks apart the bound estrogen that is getting excreted out of the body through the intestines making it easier to reabsorb into the body.
This can be one of the biggest causes of excess estrogen in women and men. Beneficial bacteria can prevent this from happening by reducing dysbiosis as it is high levels of the bad bacteria that uncouple the bond between estrogen and glucuronic acid.
The solution to improving the elimination of estrogen through the bowel is to stick to a quality whole food high-fiber diet. Your diet should include:
Phase 1 and 2 Estrogen Detoxification
In addition, you should also focus on improving detoxification through the liver. You can enhance Phases 1 and 2 of liver detoxification by consuming the following foods:
Other essential nutrients that are important for Phase 1 detoxification of estrogen include Diindolylmethane, commonly known as DIM.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage have an ingredient called Indole-3-Carbinol also known as I3C. Indole-3-carbinol mixes with stomach acid and 10-60% of this is converted to Diindolylmethane DIM.
DIM binds to a receptor that induces the estrogen to be metabolized down the safer 2-OH-Estrogen pathway.
However, in order to get enough of this nutrient, it is better to take DIM in a supplement form, plus if you have low stomach acid your body may not make enough from vegetables.
Sulforophane is a sulfur-rich compound also found in cruciferous vegetables which can help Phase 2 liver detoxification.
There is a lot of research going into the benefits of sulforophane and you can now also buy this as a supplement.
Insulin Resistance and Estrogen
Insulin resistance and a higher carbohydrate diet can also increase estrogen levels. If you have excess body fat you may need to reduce carbohydrates. Although, you can still eat lots of vegetables and other fiber-rich foods such as flaxseeds and psyllium.
This is especially important for women with PCOS and men with excess estrogen as the insulin resistance will up-regulate the aromatase enzyme causing excess estrogen.
Increasing phytoestrogens can help reduce the effect of estrogens. The plant-based estrogens found in the phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors in the body, but they do not have the same effect as they are much weaker than estrogen from the body or chemicals.
Lignans and isoflavones are the main phytoestrogens. They can help reduce the aromatase enzyme and stop testosterone from being turned into estrogen, which is especially important for men's health.
The best phytoestrogens to include in the diet:
Note: It is a myth that these phytoestrogen-containing foods mentioned above will cause high estrogen levels!
Reducing Aromatase Enzyme Activity
We have already discussed a couple of ways to reduce aromatase enzyme activity like decreasing body fat, reducing insulin resistance, and increasing the intake of phytoestrogens.
Another way to reduce the aromatase enzyme is by supplementing with the following nutrients:
Zinc is the number one inhibitor and commonly a nutrient that is deficient in men and women. It is recommended to take 20 - 50 mg of zinc a day, depending on the person.
In order to prevent any possible side effects, it is better to consult a functional medicine doctor or naturopath regarding the dosage of selenium, magnesium, and zinc per day.
Preventing High Estrogen Levels
While improving detoxification, reducing the activity of the aromatase enzyme to optimize your estrogen levels, you have to look at some lifestyle factors to reduce estrogen levels.
Reducing alcohol consumption can help reduce estrogen levels in men and women. For some people, this means reducing alcohol consumption. For other people, it may be necessary to fully eliminate alcohol for a period of time in order to improve liver function.
Estrogen in the environment is also a major problem. They can be found in plastics (even BPA-free ones!), cleaning products, personal care products, factory-farmed meats.
Estrogens are so widely used by many industries, that it is extremely hard to avoid them. Nevertheless, we can reduce our exposure and improve our detoxification.
Keep Toxic Chemicals out of Your Home
Choose Safe Chemical-Free Beauty Products
Genetics and Estrogen
Some people have genetic polymorphisms with certain genes, which means that their ability to detoxify estrogen is reduced.
Genes in the cytochrome P450 pathway and the COMT pathway increase the risk of high estrogen, and the chance that the estrogen is going to be detoxified down the unhealthy pathway into the 4 and 16 Hydroxy estrone - rather than the healthy 2 Hydroxy estrone.
This doesn't mean that if you have these genetic polymorphisms that you will have high estrogen but you will have to work a bit harder to reduce your exposure and improve your elimination of estrogen from the body.
If you have done an ancestry test like 23andme or AncestryDNA I recommend uploading your DNA to SelfDecode to get the genetic information. I can organize this for you at a discounted price and you can order the genetic reports.
Reduce High Estrogen - Summary
If you have had a hormone test and you find that you have high estrogen levels these are the steps you need to take.
The number one priority is to assess your diet and lifestyle and do the best you can to make the necessary improvements (nobody is perfect).
These are the top 3 products I recommend to reduce estrogen levels.
This is a general recommendation and assessing your DUTCH test results will help to give you a more accurate plan to get optimal results.
Testing High Estrogen Levels Summary
The best way to test your estrogen levels is with the DUTCH hormone test. This test not only measures your sex hormones but also assesses how your body is detoxifying estrogen if you have high estrogen levels. This helps implement a more specific treatment plan for you.
Furthermore, the DUTCH test assesses your adrenal function, measuring both your free cortisol and total cortisol production, which is important as high cortisol can be a cause of high estrogen.
Also, testing gut function can be an important step to working out "why" you have high estrogen. I recommend a stool test like the GI-MAP test that measures beneficial and pathogenic bacteria levels, candida and parasites to assess gut function.
The GI-MAP test also measures b-glucuronidase levels which when elevated can be a prime cause of high estrogen levels as it leads to issues with Phase 3 of estrogen detoxification.
Remember: When we are treating high estrogen, we always start with making sure Phase 3 is optimal, which means making sure digestive function is in good health.
Planet Naturopath Consultations
If you need help assessing and understanding your test results from Precision Analytical or another practitioner, you can schedule a consultation and I can help you understand the results, and the treatment priorities.
If you are still unsure of where to start with a treatment plan, a good idea is to schedule a consultation and I can help you with a step-by-step plan for testing (if necessary) and treatment.
While supplements can help, I always emphasize diet and lifestyle changes as these are essential for healthy hormones and optimal health in general.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below or get in touch through our contact page.