Many woman use the term PMS to refer to symptoms of bloating, breast tenderness, food cravings, headaches, irritability, mood swings, weight gain, and many others. A term that was coined decades ago by Dr. John Lee is “estrogen dominance.” This is what is going on inside that body when the term PMS is used.
Before we get deeper into the issue, we need to define a couple terms…
We have three types of estrogens that are natural to the human body, each with different functions. Produced in the ovaries and fat calls, they are responsible for the development of sexual characteristics, fat storage, development of the follicle, inhibit bone absorption, improve insulin sensitivity, and many other functions.
Progesterone is made mostly in the ovaries with a small amount made in the adrenal glands. Progesterone helps with sleep patterns, maintains fluid balance, helps use fat for energy, promotes the build-up of bone, maintains pregnancy, opposes the actions of estrogen, and a host of other functions.
Xenoestrogens are estrogen-like chemicals that have many of the bad effects of estrogen. They are found in commercially raised meat, dairy products, pesticides, plastics, cosmetics, sunscreens, food preservatives, petroleum products, lotions, dyes, birth control pills, and just about everything surrounding you right now. Our bodies absorb these chemicals and do not know exactly what to do with them. Some stick around for years and can accumulate inside our body, acting like estrogen, but without the beneficial effects.
Estrogen dominance is when there is too much estrogen relative to the amount of progesterone. Estrogen dominance can be caused by:
- very high estrogen with high progesterone
- high estrogen with normal progesterone
- normal estrogen with low progesterone
- low estrogen with very low progesterone
The only way to know for sure what is causing the estrogen dominance (PMS) is to test the hormone levels. This is best done through saliva testing.
Perhaps the most common cause of estrogen dominance is the oral birth control pill. When a woman does not ovulate, her progesterone drops slightly for the next cycle. Since oral contraceptives are taken for several years in a row, a woman’s progesterone can be very low. Estrogen dominance can also be caused by adrenal fatigue, insulin resistance, poor diet, or thyroid disorders.
So what is a woman to do?
The first step is lifestyle changes. She needs to reduce her intake of alcohol, caffeine, salt, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. Increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and protein. Regular exercise helps to metabolize estrogen and regulate the system. Stress management will decrease cortisol that will, in turn, increase progesterone. Diindolymethane (DIM) helps the body to metabolize estrogen and remove it from the body.
Supplements, especially a good multi-vitamin that contains the B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, and calcium is beneficial. Alternatively, she can take these supplements individually. Other helpful products include Vitax (Chaste Tree), black cohosh, and DIM.
The most common treatment for estrogen dominance is over the counter progesterone cream. Low progesterone is the most common reason for these symptoms.
Start by using 10mg of progesterone cream twice a day. Apply it to your inner forearms on days 14-28 of your cycle. The first day of your period is day 1 of your cycle. You can adjust the dose and days based on the response you have to this dose and schedule.
If you begin your period before day 28, stop the cream and that is day 1. If you have an important event and you wish to delay your period for a couple days, you can continue the progesterone and it may delay your period for an amount of time.
Everyone can dramatically improve their health and well-being by:
- eating a diet of 1/3 carbohydrates, 1/3 protein, and 1/3 fat
- taking a quality multi-vitamin, omega-3, DHEA, vitamin D, digestive enzymes, whey protein
- getting regular weight training exercises
- balancing their hormones