Estrogen dominance is a type of hormonal imbalance in which the body produces too much estrogen. There are different schools of thought about estrogen dominance, but the theory behind it is that during the transition into perimenopause, the body will produce less progesterone but keep producing the same levels of estrogen. This causes an imbalance that causes unpleasant symptoms.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance can be similar to those of perimenopause, menopause, or even PMS. Diagnosing estrogen dominance requires precisely timed testing, so if you have the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN or reproductive endocrinologist.
1. Mood Swings
Unfortunately, any change in hormones is likely to cause mood swings. If your mood changes quickly and dramatically for no identifiable reason, it may be because you have too much estrogen.
In addition to noticeable changes in mood, women experiencing estrogen dominance may also be more irritable in general. Everyone has their bad days, but if everything is getting under your skin all the time, then a hormonal issue might be to blame.
3. Decreased Sex Drive
Women with estrogen dominance may have a lower libido than normal. This is due in part to the imbalance in estrogen and progesterone, but you could argue the other symptoms on this list wouldn’t exactly “put you in the mood” either.
4. Worsening PMS Symptoms
Another sign of estrogen dominance is worsening PMS symptoms. Breast tenderness, headaches, acne flare-ups, and mood changes may become more pronounced.
5. Irregular Menstrual Periods
Hormone imbalances in women will often disrupt their menstrual cycles. Menstrual periods can occur less frequently or more frequently. They may also change in duration. This symptom can be hard to notice for some women who already have irregular cycles.
6. Heavy Periods
Women with too much estrogen may have heavy and painful periods. This can happen to women who still get their period regularly and those who are experiencing irregular periods.
Women experience bloating at different times in their menstrual cycles. Most women who get regular periods can estimate when in their cycle this will occur. In cases of estrogen dominance, you might be bloated at a different time. Irregular and heavy periods may also cause unexpected bloating.
8. Weight Gain
Putting on weight when your diet or exercise habits have not changed might be a sign of a health problem. This symptom may also present itself as an increase in body or carrying your weight in different places than before.
Women with too much estrogen often experience anxiety and have panic attacks. There’s a difference between anxiety and worrying about the things that most people do. Anxiety is more of a general feeling while worries are about specific things. Anxiety may also cause physical symptoms like a racing heart or tightness in the chest.
10. Hair Loss
As women age, they may experience some hair loss. This can happen during perimenopause or menopause. But if it happens before menopause it might be one of the signs of estrogen dominance.
11. Trouble Sleeping
Trouble sleeping is a common symptom of many problems involving hormones. If you toss and turn and can’t get to sleep even when you’re tired, then you should make an appointment to see your doctor.
Unfortunately, estrogen dominance can cause fatigue. This symptom can occur whether or not you have insomnia. If you experience persistent tiredness or feel more drained of energy than usual, talk to your doctor about being tested for hormonal issues.
13. Fertility Issues
Fertility issues are not uncommon in women who have hormonal imbalances like estrogen dominance. This issue may also be compounded by the fact that women with estrogen dominance are often over 35 when fertility naturally declines.
14. Memory Problems & Mental Fog
If you have problems recalling details or putting your thoughts together, then you may have an imbalance in hormones.
15. Hot Flashes & Night Sweats
Just like with menopause, hot flashes and night sweats can be signs of estrogen dominance. Hormone replacement therapy can help alleviate these symptoms.
Dr. Karen Clark of Chapel Hill Gynecology is an experienced OB/GYN that specializes in management of menopause and other hormonal conditions. If you have any of the signs of estrogen dominance we’ve described, Dr. Clark can help you determine if you do have the condition and come up with a plan to manage your symptoms with progesterone supplementation. Call Dr. Clark at (919) 960-2720 to schedule an appointment.