Progesterone: to Prevent Estrogen Dominance over 50
human body functions best when it is balanced in every area. When one area is
balance the entire body is effected. Women’s hormones are delicate and can
be thrown off balance by almost anything, including
vitamin deficiencies and overload of negative outside factors.
One such hormone is Progesterone- secreted primarily by the ovaries in females.
Smaller amounts are produced by the adrenal glands, the brain and glial cells.
Progesterone and estrogen are the two primary female hormones and work in close
synergy. The synthesis and secretion of estrogens is stimulated by
follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which is, in turn, controlled by the
hypothalamic gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). Progesterone production, on
the other hand is stimulated by luteinizing hormone (LH), which is also
stimulated by GnRH. The key is knowing when estrogen becomes the dominant
hormone and progesterone is deficient. There are very few women that are
deficient in estrogen. Most are deficient in progesterone.
Estrogen causes breast stimulation - progesterone protects. Estrogen
fat - progesterone uses fat for energy. Estrogen causes fluid
retention - progesterone is a natural diuretic. Estrogen increases blood
clotting - progesterone normalizes it. Estrogen decreases
sex drive - progesterone restores it. Estrogen increases risks of
breast cancer - progesterone helps prevents it.
Usually, between 42 and 52 years of age, the follicles become less responsive to
FSH and LH. They begin to secrete less estrogen. Ovulation and menstruation
become irregular and finally cease. This cessation is called
menopause. More than 50% of women over 35 years of age have symptoms of high
estrogen overload. During menopause estrogen decreases by 40-60% whereas
progesterone decreases by 90%. As a result of the change in hormonal levels
women can suffer a variety of symptoms associated with menopause. For example,
symptoms can include
hot flashes, night sweats, dizziness, weight gain,
anxiety, mood swings and sore joints.
Problems related to or affected by excess estrogen and deficient progesterone in
Weight gain secondary to insulin resistance.
Fibrocystic breast disease
Certain types of
Menstrual disturbances--irregular and heavy bleeding.
Endometriosis, the uterine tissue disorder, which is helped by the
use of estrogen blockers.
Fibroids, a sign of excess proliferative capacity of the uterus,
which may not be balanced with sufficient progesterone.
Looking at the picture, progesterone calls for attention to restore a
healthy estrogen-progesterone balance.
The question that is left to be answered is- How to boost Progesterone-
way would be to slow down excess estrogen consumption found in our food
supply, personal care and household products, pharmaceuticals, plastics,
pesticides, insecticides, HRT, birth control pills etc. Avoid hormone-fed animal
high sugars and fats, highly refined, processed foods, caffeine, alcohol,
food additives, preservatives and colours. Foods and drinks that contain
caffeine should be removed from the diet. Dr. Michael Lam, who specializes in
natural healing, reports on a study that involved measuring caffeine consumption
and estrogen levels. The result of the study was that even only one cup of
coffee per day could increase estrogen levels, and more than four cups of coffee
raised the level 70 percent higher than the one cup level. Dr. Lam also states a
study that showed a reduction in estrogen levels of women who gave up a diet
full of high carb and high fat foods in exchange for a plant centered diet that
was low in fat. Avoiding sugars, fatty and processed foods and opting for fresh,
whole fruits and vegetables and nuts is one way to reduce estrogen dominance (livestrong.com).
Xenoestrogens, estrogens from environmental sources, are found in pesticides,
plastics, detergents and even perfumes.
Increase fibre intake, choose natural or organic whole foods,
hormone-free animal products, foods rich in
antioxidants and omega-3, liver supporting foods, plenty of water. Dr.
Ronald Hoffman of New York states that a high fiber diet will decrease blood
estrogen levels. Since excess estrogen leaves the body by way of the bowel,
if stool remains in the colon the estrogen will be reabsorbed. Some foods
that are high in
and make great additions to the diet are celery, apples, berries, oatmeal,
nuts and seeds and any kind of bean. Studies have reported women who shifted
to a diet high in fibrous foods, fruits, and vegetables, experienced a
significant drop in their estrogen levels.
Monitor intake of Phytoestrogens, to avoid disparity in estrogen
and progesterone levels. Soy,
flaxseed, red clover, black cohosh, chaste berry, dong quai. Hormonal
imbalances can be avoided by controlling consumption of isoflavones. With
the wide variety of foods available to the average consumer in a grocery
store, there is no point in ingesting more than four to six ounces of these
products a day.
Maintain your liver health, to flush out excess estrogen.
The liver works as a filter that cleans harmful substances from the blood
stream and sends them for elimination, including excess estrogen. When the
liver works too hard and can not function properly, toxins build up in the
system, including estrogen. Foods that aid in liver detox are lemons, limes,
spinach, leafy greens and Brussels sprouts. While the cruciferous vegetables
such as Brussels sprouts and broccoli help with liver function, they also
contain higher amounts of phyto-estrogens, so vary your vegetable intake and
have cruciferous vegetables every other day.
strictly Organic: When selecting fruits, vegetables and even lean meats,
seek out organic sources. Organic foods are not grown or raised with pesticides
or added hormones, so they give the liver a break by not adding extra toxins or
estrogens into the system. When purchasing meat or milk, make sure it states
that it is organic and "hormone free." If you purchase food that you are not
certain is organic, be sure to wash it first to rinse any pesticide residue from
it. Organic fruits and vegetables naturally contain compounds called sterols
that exhibit “progestogenic effects,” meaning they counter balance the effects
of estrogen in the body.
Quit Smoking- A recent
study of postmenopausal women who smoke showed that they have higher
androgen and estrogen levels than non-smoking women, with sex hormone levels
being highest in heavy smokers. According to Judith Brand, MSc, of
University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands and lead author of the
study “The observed increase in sex hormone levels with cigarette use
suggests that tobacco smoke, apart from its direct toxic and carcinogenic
effects, may also influence chronic disease risk through hormonal
mechanisms. The good news is that the effect of cigarette
smoking appears reversible, as an almost immediate reduction in sex
hormone levels was seen in women who quit using cigarettes.” So the good
news is that it is never too late to stop smoking in order to minimize your
Weight loss- In case you are overweight or have been careless
lately, target optimum
weight. Excess body fat results in conservation of estrogen. This may be
why overweight women are at lower risk for
osteoporosis; conversely, they are at higher risk of breast and uterine
Exercise- Research shows that physical activity curtails
overproduction of estrogen. Fat cells promote estrogen production. Regular
moderate to severe exercise has also been shown to reduce a woman’s
chance of developing breast cancer, which indicates it regulates estrogen
levels and promotes better removal of excess estrogen. Long-term exercise
also means that you will have
bones and a lower risk of
osteoporosis than non-exercisers. However, if taken too far, exercise
can abolish periods altogether, resulting in the dangerous condition of
Female Athletic Triad.
ways to manage stress- Stress control is solutions to lower estrogen.
Stress, either physical or emotional, can prompt the body to produce more
estrogen than normal. Dr. Ben Kim lists chronic stress as a key cause of
estrogen dominance. He writes, “When a person experiences chronic physical
and/or emotional stress, his or her body will begin to convert progesterone into
the stress hormone, cortisol…the point is this: stress can lead to a depletion
of progesterone, which creates the same condition of estrogen dominance that a
woman experiences when she has too much estrogen in her system.” There are a
variety of effective stress management techniques that can be employed to
provide relief and prevent an estrogen related physical reaction from occurring.
Such techniques include practicing
taking up a hobby like painting or playing an instrument, or caring for an
Look for natural progesterone- to balance the side effects of
unopposed estrogen. A properly formulated natural
progesterone cream is the natural safe choice over synthetic
progesterone (progestins). The Mexican wild yam (dioscorea mexicana) is one
documented natural food source related to progesterone hormones. According
to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "Progesterone
from diosgenin, extracted from Mexican yams, is identical to the natural
progesterone of the human ovary or placenta." The body of a hormonal
imbalanced person needs to be fortified.
Get hormone levels checked and discuss proper estrogen metabolism
with your healthcare practioner- In order to make an informed diagnosis, the
physician needs information about your serum estrogen and progesterone
Note: This information is equally important for teenage girls and women
in their 30's to prevent the pitfall.
Dated 15 February 2012