What Is Estrogen Dominance And How Does It Affect Me?

Estrogen Dominance

Dr Lee's research is the basis of her books about menopause

Carol had been in perimenopause for more than a year. She had described her symptoms as moderate, but they had been getting progressively worse.

She had been gathering information about treatments for her symptoms from every source she could think of….from internet searches, forums, support groups, books etc.

One day she began her session with me by asking “what is estrogen dominance and how does it affect me?”. The following is the gist of what I explained to Carol.

Estrogen dominance is an interesting theory, because the medical community is divided over it.

The term estrogen dominance refers to a situation in which your body does not have enough progesterone to balance out estrogen levels. It occurs during perimenopause. While estrogen levels are falling during this time, they also fluctuate……they go up and down. They do not reach a stable low level, until after your periods end permanently. On the other hand, progesterone levels fall more steadily. This disrupts the balance between the two hormones, causing the menopause symptoms that you are experiencing.

Whats more … proponents of the estrogen dominance theory say that research suggests that this imbalance between estrogen and progesterone levels is responsible for several female health conditions that are a concern for women

  • Weight gain secondary to insulin resistance
  • Fibrocystic breast disease
  • Certain types of PMS
  • Migraines
  • Menstrual disturbances–irregular and heavy bleeding
  • Endometriosis, the uterine tissue disorder
  • Fibroids
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Breast Cancer

Progesterone acts as an antagonist to estrogen. For example, estrogen stimulates breast cysts while progesterone protects against breast cysts.

Proponents of this theory are opposed to traditional HRT, because it increases the estrogen levels in your body and it doesnt do anything to redress the imbalance between estrogen and progesterone levels in your body…. that is causing your symptoms. They say that to relieve your symptoms, the levels of progesterone in your body needs to be increased.

The father of the estrogen dominance theory is Dr John Lee, MD. He is the author of the book “What Your Doctor May Not tell You About Menopause: The breakthrough book on natural progesterone”.

Other medical doctors who support this theory are

  • Michael Lam, M.D., M.P.H., A.B.A.A.M. is a specialist in Preventive and Anti-Aging Medicine
  • Ronald Hoffman, M.D. is an American physician, author, and broadcaster in the United States who hosts Health Talk, a syndicated radio talk show. He is the founder and director of the Hoffman Center in New York City
  • Christiane Northrup, M.D., is one of the world’s leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. She is a board-certified ob-gyn physician who graduated from Dartmouth Medical School. She is the author of the best selling book “Wisdom Of Menopause”
  • Dr Jerilynn C. Prior MD, FRCPC, ABIM, ABEM is a Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C. She is the founder and Scientific Director of the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR)

The mainstream medical bodies and many physicians are dubious of the estrogen dominance theory. The North American Menopause Society, the American Medical Association, and the Endocrine Society all say that scientific evidence does not exist to support this theory. All of them endorse HRT as the recommended treatment for menopause symptoms.

My take on this?

  1. The real test of the estrogen dominance theory is…..does progesterone therapy effectively relieve menopause symptoms and is it safe. There are countless testimonials about its effectiveness and just a few negative reports about it. There is no evidence that is unsafe and in fact there have been studies that have found that it is safer than HRT
  2. The fact that there has been few studies to substantiate this theory, is a weak argument. Most studies are funded by pharmaceutical companies. The pharma companies have a great deal invested in their HRT products. Why would they fund studies that could damage their financial results?
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