Oestrogen is known as the female sex hormone, while testosterone is the male sex hormone. However, the fact is, men and women produce both types of hormones, and both play a key role in regulating various functions. For example, in women, oestrogen plays a part in developing our reproductive system and regulates the menstrual cycle. In men, it helps with sexual function. Unfortunately, having too much of either hormone not only causes an imbalance in our body, but also leads to serious health problems if left unmonitored. The potential to develop degenerative conditions, atherosclerosis, weight gain, mood swings, endometriosis, fibroids, breast cysts and breast or ovarian cancer in women increases with hormonal imbalance. As high oestrogen levels present risks to both genders, we should also mention some of the issues men may face. Guys, in addition to heart problems, be on the look out for prostate cancer, as the risk increases together with oestrogen levels. You may also experience erectile dysfunction, weight gain, difficulty gaining muscle, artherosclerosis or stroke.
Causes of oestrogen increase
High levels of oestrogen can stem from family genetics. If there are instances of family members who experience high oestrogen levels, chances are that you may be prone to it as well. Indicators of high oestrogen levels include obesity, liver disease and ovarian tumours. When you develop a hormonal imbalance, the body produces low levels of other hormones like progesterone or testosterone, while oestrogen levels are in overdrive. Causes of imbalance include taking oral contraceptive pills or hormone replacement therapy, which is administered to menopausal women. Hormonal imbalance is also a side effect of certain medications. Pay attention to your oestrogen levels if you take any of the following: • Phenothiazines, which is an anti-psychotic medication used to treat emotional or mental conditions. • Certain antibiotics. Check with your doctor if the antibiotic they prescribe to you might cause hormonal imbalance. • Herbal or natural remedies. A few common ones are evening primrose oil, liquorice and black cohosh extract. • Hormonal contraceptives. • Oestrogen replacement therapy.
Oestrogen in excess will cause the following symptoms: • Weight gain, especially at the hips and waist. • Irregular periods with either heavy flow or light spotting. Symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) may also be more severe. • Cold hands and feet. • Bloating. • Fatigue. • Trouble sleeping well. • Low mood and low sex drive.
Reversing oestrogen increase
You can correct oestrogen imbalance by first and foremost, modifying your diet. Calcium d-glutarate helps to get rid of excess oestrogen before it is reabsorbed back into the system. Foods that are rich in this calcium salt include grapefruit, apples and oranges. Brussel sprouts, turnips, bok choy, cauliflower and broccoli are cruciferous vegetables that are a rich source of many types of nutrients that not only fight high oestrogen levels, but have also been found to help with cancer and thyroid function. Cruciferous vegetables contain indole-3-carbinol, which neutralises the impact of high oestrogen. Still, unless you have the time to prepare large quantities of food every day, it can often be a challenge to get the correct amount of nutrients needed to counter the risks of high oestrogen levels. Here’s where supplements can help with the process, and the types to seek out include: • Probiotics. A healthy microbiome is essential for the management of every hormonal condition imaginable. There’s a community of gut bacteria, and specifically, bacterial genes called the oestrobolome that produce an enzyme that supports the metabolisation of oestrogen. Your gut is an important part of the elimination system that is vital in ushering hormones out of the body. When you eat dairy, gluten or food that has been produced with pesticides, or take antibiotics, you disrupt this hugely important bacterial balance. • Di-indole methane (DIM), which is a natural plant-based chemical found in many cruciferous vegetables. • Fish oil, especially DHA. • Zinc, to dampen the activity of oestrogen receptors. • Boron, which lowers the quantity of free oestrogen. Apart from that, it is a good idea to rid your surroundings of xenoestrogens, which are found in many daily items. Xenoestrogens are endocrine disruptors that mimic, but do not perform oestrogen functions. Eliminating xenoestrogens can be difficult, especially in places and situations beyond your control. Here are some things that will help you remove xenoestrogens from your life: • Use natural skin and body care products. • Avoid plastic containers for food and water as much as possible. • Do your laundry with natural detergents. • Use household cleaners that contain fewer chemicals or make your own natural household cleaners. • Do not let plastic wraps touch your food during microwaving, and use ceramic or glass containers to reheat food. • Consume organic produce. • Reduce meat consumption. • Reduce dairy consumption. • Reduce stress. • Support liver health. Your liver plays a critical role in maintaining hormonal balance and keeping symptoms at bay. In order to do all of the detoxification work it does on your behalf, it needs a fully stocked supply of many micronutrients, such as the B complex vitamins and the antioxidants Vitamins A, C and E, Q10 and alpha lipoic acid. Your issues with elevated levels of oestrogen might also be due to poor lifestyle habits like overeating, excessive recreational drugs or alcohol consumption. Practice everything in moderation. Eat smaller portions, and if you’re overweight, it will help to lose some kilos as well. Try to reduce your alcohol intake and stop smoking. In summary, high levels of oestrogen has its risks, but if you identify why it’s occurring, you have ways to control it. The best thing to do is consult a doctor when you experience any symptoms of hormonal imbalance. With proper advice and monitoring, it is possible to pre-empt the issue from escalating into more serious health issues.
Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and a functional medicine practitioner. For further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
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