The term "estrogen dominance" was coined to describe the 'adverse' symptoms often encountered by men and women if they have a naturally high level of estrogen or, in the case of women, have been on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or the contraceptive Pill for any length of time and therefore have low progesterone levels.
Initially progesterone has a stimulatory effect. This is because progesterone activates the oestrogen receptors so making oestrogen the dominant hormone which makes many men and women feel worse.
With progesterone therapy, progesterone gradually becomes the dominant hormone and symptoms begin to ease. Some women never experience estrogen dominance, in others it can take several days, whilst in others it can last longer. Much depends on the amount of excess oestrogen that is present.
Men can also experience oestrogen dominance when first using progesterone.
It is essential to use enough progesterone, about 100-200mg/day, to overcome the excess oestrogen. Many women use too little, 20-40mg/day, so progesterone is always in the stimulation mode. This leaves them in a permanent state of oestrogen dominance.
If symptoms are severe, for instance heavy continual bleeding or debilitating hot flushes, up to 400mg/day will be needed.
Normally men will benefit from 10-20mg/day progesterone, but if a higher than normal amount of oestrogen is present, it's advisable to use up to 100mg/day.
It is easy enough to reduce the amount of progesterone to the optimum level, once symptoms have resolved. The reduction should always be done slowly over several weeks.
Please bear in mind that stress drops progesterone levels sharply, so symptoms can come back which puzzles many. Increase the amount used over any stressful time. Large meals also drop progesterone levels, due to an increased clearance rate of the hormone.
Dark, gloomy days and winter reduce progesterone levels, because of a reduction in vitamin D. Please have a vitamin D test done as low levels reduce the benefits of progesterone. See here for home tests.
Conversely supplemental estrogen can initially make us feel better. The reason for this is oestrogen activates the progesterone receptors so making progesterone the dominant hormone, but it wears off as estrogen becomes the dominant hormone.
This is one of the reasons so many women keep changing their HRT script. There are some women who do not suffer any adverse affects, but the risks of using HRT or the contraceptive pill for any length of time are not worth it. Please see the links below.
Estrogen dominance is characterized by any of the following symptoms. These symptoms can also occur in women when first using progesterone. In men too, aside from the obvious women's problems...
If you experience any of these symptoms then your choice is to either...
The Pill and HRT contain estrogen and synthetic progesterone (which is commonly called 'progestin'). Progestins cause natural progesterone levels to drop, leading to many of the above symptoms.
If you are on either HRT or a contraceptive pill and you wish to come off it, it's far gentler on the body to do this gradually in conjunction with progesterone, please see here.
Read all labels on containers, especially those for food and cosmetics. Look for natural alternatives to body care products, many contain high levels of endocrine disruptors and carcinogens, particularly the sunscreens.
For more information on natural, oestrogen free, sunscreens please see here.
For a comprehensive list of symptoms please click here.
Learning more about how to use progesterone cream can help lessen the effects of estrogen dominance.
Gynecol Endocrinol. 1998 Feb;12(1):29-34
Effects of estradiol and an aromatase inhibitor on progesterone production in human cultured luteal cells
Endocrine Reviews 1997 Vol. 18, No. 4
Physiological Action of Progesterone in Target Tissues
BREAST CANCER RESEARCH AND TREATMENT 1997, Volume 45, Number 2, 121-133
Estrogen sensitivity of normal human breast tissue in vivo and implanted into athymic nude mice: Analysis of the relationship between estrogen-induced proliferation and progesterone receptor expression
Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 1990, Vol. 2, No. 3
Dose-Related Effects of Progesterone and 5 Alpha- Di hydroprogesterone upon Estrogen-Induced Prolactin Release
Biol Reprod. 1983 Jun;28(5):1078-89
Progesterone inhibits the induction of aromatase activity in rat granulosa cells in vitro