Understanding Estrogen Dominance
Thanks to the work of Dr. John R. Lee, physician and author of the book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, most women today who are going through menopause, understand, or have at least heard of, the term estrogen dominance.
Prior to the 1970s, the notion of estrogen dominance was virtually non-existent. The general consensus in the medical community was that women suffering with symptoms of menopause were suffering from too little estrogen. It was Dr. Raymond Peat, PhD, who first suggested that women in menopause were not suffering from too little estrogen, but in fact, too little progesterone.
Intrigued by Dr. Peat’s work, Dr. Lee began his own research, and concluded that what Dr. Peat suggested was correct: many of the symptoms of menopause that women suffer with are not the result of too little estrogen, but too much estrogen; or more accurately, estrogen unopposed by progesterone, a condition Dr. Lee subsequently coined as estrogen dominance.
What Causes Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance occurs when estrogen is unopposed or unbalanced, by progesterone. Without the calming and mitigating effects of progesterone, estrogen becomes dominant, causing a variety of difficult and unpleasant symptoms
During the years of fertility, for example, women often experience PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, irritability, weepiness, and weight gain, which occur just prior to the onset of their periods.
The cause of the symptoms is due to the drop in progesterone which triggers menstruation, and also leaves estrogen dominant. Once menstruation actually begins, and progesterone levels rise again, women often report feeling “normal” and “back to themselves.”
For women entering perimenopause, their estrogen and progesterone levels are fluctuating in a more erratic and unpredictable fashion. These fluctuations also cause estrogen to become dominant, and contribute to many of the symptoms associated with perimenopause such as:
• Loss of libido
• Weight gain - particularly around the mid-section
• Heavy, cramping periods with blood clots
• Irritability and mood swings
• Excessive crying
How Should We Treat Estrogen Dominance?
Not all perimenopause and menopause symptoms are due to estrogen dominance. However, those which are can be treated with progesterone, according to Dr.John Lee . In his book, Dr. Lee strongly suggests that women choose a bioidentical progesterone rather than synthetic, pharmaceutical grade progesterone, such as progestin, which has been associated with an increased risk in heart attacks, stroke, and dangerous blood clots.
Dr. John Lee never developed his own formula for bioidentical progesterone, though he recommends several in his book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, which are considered high quality, and meet the necessary dosage standards to be effective in treating symptoms of menopause associated with estrogen dominance.
If you are considering using bioidentical progesterone for your menopause symptoms, be sure and research the different brands, along with their ingredients. Not all brands have sufficient doses of progesterone in them, or contain quality ingredients. Dr. Lee’s book is an excellent resource to help you make sense out of the jargon, along with this free ebook entitled Good, Better, Best: How Do I know Which Progesterone Cream to Buy?
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health, and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.