Hormones are the body's messengers, regulating everything from stress to blood-sugars, weight and sleep. But there’s another hormone we’ll be focussing on today; oestrogen is a vital hormone, not just for reproductive health, but for bone, organ and mental health too – unfortunately, you can have too much of a good thing.
Oestrogen dominance occurs when levels of this sex hormone are elevated too high in relation to progesterone levels. Oestrogen performs a number of functions, from initiating reproductive development, supporting egg development and ovulation to promoting bone and heart health. However, when oestrogen levels become imbalanced, it can lead to a number of problems. Here’s what to look out for.
Persistent Bloating and Water Retention
Experiencing bloating and water retention, especially around your abdomen and lower body, can be a sign of oestrogen dominance. Elevated oestrogen levels can disrupt fluid balance in the body, leading to the sensation of constant bloating and puffiness. This symptom often worsens in the days leading up to your menstrual period.
One common manifestation of oestrogen dominance is the storage of excess body fat, particularly around the hips and buttocks. This pattern of weight gain is often referred to as "pear-shaped." Oestrogen dominance can promote fat storage in these areas, making it challenging to shed the weight.
Sore and Tender Breasts
Breast tenderness and soreness can be a monthly occurrence for many women, but if this symptom becomes chronic or particularly severe, it may be linked to oestrogen dominance. Elevated oestrogen levels can lead to breast tissue swelling and increased sensitivity, resulting in discomfort that persists throughout your menstrual cycle.
Cyclical Headaches and Migraines
Hormonal fluctuations, including those related to oestrogen levels, can trigger headaches and migraines in some individuals. For those with oestrogen dominance, these headaches may occur predictably, often in the days leading up to menstruation. The cyclical nature of these headaches can be a clue to hormonal imbalance.
Mood Swings, Irritability, and Anxiety
Oestrogen plays a role in mood regulation, and when oestrogen levels are imbalanced, it can affect your emotional well-being. Women experiencing oestrogen dominance may find themselves more prone to mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and even symptoms of depression. These emotional fluctuations can be particularly prominent during the premenstrual phase.
Seeking Balance and Support
If you recognise these signs in your own experience, it's essential to remember that hormonal imbalances are common and manageable. Seeking support from a healthcare professional can help diagnose oestrogen dominance and explore treatment options – and you might be surprised a lot of the treatment is in your control. Treatment strategies may include lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, hormone replacement therapy, or natural remedies to rebalance hormonal levels. Stress management techniques, regular exercise, and a balanced diet rich in fibre, antioxidants, and nutrients can contribute to hormonal harmony.
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