Estrogen dominance

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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...

  • aches and pains
  • anger
  • bleeding which comes either earlier or later than usual
  • bloating/weight gain due to water retention
  • breast tenderness
  • bruising
  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • heart palpitations
  • hot flushes
  • hypoglycaemia
  • increased appetite/cravings
  • irritation
  • migraines
  • mild depression
  • mood swings
  • muscle weakness
  • nausea
  • skin problems/acne/melasma
  • spotting
  • tiredness/chronic fatigue
  • weight gain

If you experience any of these symptoms then your choice is to either...

  • increase the dose and persevere with the symptoms, or
  • reduce the dose considerably to begin with and then gradually increase it over a month or two. This will understandably take longer to resolve symptoms

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.


  • large meals (due to the increased metabolic clearance rate of progesterone)
  • all forms of oestrogen
  • oxidised fats, (ie margarine, refined oils, and fried foods, in particular fried animal protein)
  • pasteurised, homogenised milk
  • all non-organic dairy products and animal protein. Factory farms use growth hormones and especially estrogen as it causes a rapid increase in fat deposits
  • tap water, which is now contaminated with prescription drugs, including oestrogen from the Pill and HRT, plus the oestrogen mimics generated by industry. Drink only filtered water

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.

More information...



Contraceptives Research Papers

HRT Research Papers


For a comprehensive list of symptoms please click here.

Learning more about how to use progesterone cream which 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

Nature 423, 545-550 (29 May 2003)
Modulation of oestrogen receptor signalling by association with the activated dioxin receptor

Molecular Cell, Volume 8, Issue 2, 269-280, 1 August 2001
Progesterone Receptor Contains a Proline-Rich Motif that Directly Interacts with SH3 Domains and Activates c-Src Family Tyrosine Kinases

Molecular Endocrinology, 2000, 14 (7):972
Sp1 Binding Sites and An Estrogen Response Element Half-Site Are Involved in Regulation of the Human Progesterone Receptor A Promoter

Journal of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation, Vol. 7, No. 1 suppl, S33-S37 (2000)
Mechanisms of Action and Cross-Talk Between Estrogen Receptor and Progesterone Receptor Pathways

Human Reproduction, Vol. 15, (Suppl. 3), pp. 48-56, 2000
Heterogeneity of progesterone receptors A and B expression in human endometrial glands and stroma

Molecular and Cellular Biology, March 1999, p. 2251-2264, Vol. 19, No. 3
Progesterone Inhibits Estrogen-Induced Cyclin D1 and cdk4 Nuclear Translocation, Cyclin E- and Cyclin A- cdk2 Kinase Activation, and Cell Proliferation in Uterine Epithelial Cells in Mice

Molecular Human Reproduction, Vol. 5, No. 6, 559-564, June 1999
Oestrogen receptor alpha and beta mRNA expression in human endometrium throughout the menstrual cycle

Molecular Endocrinology, 1999, 13 (6): 829-836
Hypothesis: Progesterone Primes Breast Cancer Cells for Cross-Talk with Proliferative or Antiproliferative Signals

Steroids Volume 64, Issues 1-2, 2 January 1999, Pages 168-175
Identification of functional binding sites for progesterone in rat Leydig cell plasma membrane

Gynecol Endocrinol. 1998 Feb;12(1):29-34
Effects of estradiol and an aromatase inhibitor on progesterone production in human cultured luteal cells

Ligand binding and co-activator assembly of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-g

Endocrinology 1997, Vol. 138, No. 7 2900-2908
Transcriptional Activities of Estrogen and Glucocorticoid Receptors Are Functionally Integrated at the AP-1 Response Element

Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology Issue Volume 122, Number 12 / December, 1996
Effect of oestradiol and insulin on the proliferative pattern and on oestrogen and progesterone receptor contents in MCF-7 cells

Cell, Volume 69, Issue 4, 703-713, 15 May 1992
The mechanism of RU486 antagonism is dependent on the conformation of the carboxy-terminal tail of the human progesterone receptor

EMBO J. 1988 November; 7(11): 3385, 3388
Genomic organization of the human oestrogen receptor gene

Biology of Reproduction February 1, 1988 vol. 38 no. 1 63-69
Progesterone abbreviates the nuclear retention of estrogen receptor in the rat oviduct and counteracts estrogen action on egg transport

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 240: E43-E46, 1981
In vivo cell nuclear binding of 17 beta- [3H]estradiol in rat adipose tissues

Journal of Steroid Biochemistry Volume 6, Issues 3-4, March-April 1975, Pages 501-509
Oestrogen-induced progesterone receptor in human uterus

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