Estrogen Dominance as a Trigger of Hashimoto’s
There is a close connection between your thyroid hormones and the other hormones in your body. In particular, your thyroid hormones and sex hormones are known to work together when in balance. However, when one of the systems is out of balance, it can disrupt the other, causing many symptoms and even health issues.
As more and more women struggle with conditions such as PCOS, infertility, autoimmune diseases, and breast cancer, researchers are uncovering the truth behind estrogen dominance and its role in these conditions.
Estrogen dominance is exactly what it sounds like. This is a condition where there is too much estrogen in the system. Both men and women need estrogen. However, these sex hormones are mainly female hormones; it is found in much higher concentrations in women and is responsible for everything from secondary sexual characteristics to maintaining bone health.
Estrogen dominance does not mean your estrogen levels are low, but it is the most common cause. Some women may have progesterone levels that are too low. This means that estrogen is the dominant sex hormone in the system. Progesterone is another sex steroid that regulates the menstrual cycle and supports a pregnancy. Estrogen and progesterone regulate each other to maintain a normal menstrual cycle and support other organ systems.
Many women associate the symptoms with a normal but unpleasant reaction to hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle. However, the combination of these symptoms may indicate that there is a hormonal imbalance.
- Weight gain, especially in the abdomen, hips, and thighs
- Slowed metabolism
- Water retention
- Brain fog
- Severe PMS
- Uterine fibroids
- Polycystic ovaries
- Irregular periods
- Low libido
Estrogen dominance is usually not due to a single cause, making diagnosis and treatment difficult. Chronic stress, poor gut and liver health, and environmental toxins (called xenoestrogens) can all contribute to estrogen dominance. Also, in the absence of ovulation (anovulation), progesterone declines later in the menstrual cycle, resulting in a more dominant estrogen.
Other causes of estrogen dominance include:
- Hormonal birth control
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Poor detoxification
Many symptoms of estrogen dominance appear during menopause 5-10 years before menopause. Menopause is a period of hormonal fluctuations due to decreased ovarian function. For example, estrogen may become more dominant as you approach menopause but gradually decline. This is when women are expected to experience estrogen dominance, but women of all ages (and men too!) can become estrogen dominant.
Estrogen suppresses thyroid hormone and increases the need for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Instead, progesterone stimulates the production of thyroid hormones. Estrogen increases thyroid-binding globulin (TBG), which helps keep thyroid hormones in the bloodstream. However, when thyroid hormone is added to TBG, it is inactivated.
When there is not enough thyroid hormone, cells cannot use the hormone to regulate metabolism and fuel the body. As you can see, the predominance of estrogen levels can put a woman in a state of hypothyroidism.
However, the effect of estrogen dominance on the thyroid gland goes beyond the production of thyroid hormones. It also affects the immune system. People with hypothyroidism have more difficulty eliminating estrogen from the body.
The liver is responsible for breaking down estrogen, but hypothyroidism also reduces liver function. Long-term exposure to excessive levels of estrogen can increase a woman’s risk of developing autoimmune thyroiditis (or Hashimoto's thyroiditis) because the immune system produces TPO and TG antibodies.
Additionally, as inflammatory substances such as xenoestrogens are continuously introduced into our daily lives, the estrogen receptor is overexpressed, making it susceptible to other autoimmune diseases and cancer.
Hence, there is a need to find a balance between your estrogen and thyroid hormone levels. As you can imagine, treating these conditions requires a multi-faceted approach. For example, some women need hormone replacement therapy to help restore the balance between estrogen and progesterone. Conversely, others may need to stop using synthetic estrogen. Many women benefit from dietary and lifestyle changes. Treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis sometimes requires medication and general changes.
Hashimoto's can cause hypothyroidism which can cause hypothyroidism. Most people with hypothyroidism must take thyroid hormone replacement medication because the thyroid gland cannot produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the body's metabolic needs. Without correcting low thyroid hormone levels, it is difficult to get rid of Hashimoto's symptoms and prevent other health problems.
Fortunately, estrogen dominance and the dietary and lifestyle adjustments that can help treat Hashimoto's disease are very similar. These includes:
1. Food pattern
Increasing fiber in your diet will help restore balance to your gut microbiome. Both estrogen dominance and Hashimoto's syndrome can be caused or exacerbated by the buildup of harmful "bad" bacteria.
2. Treat major problems in the digestive system
Digestive System plays an important role in thyroid health. In fact, autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto's can start in people who have leaky gut membranes or "leaky gut." In addition, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is common in people with thyroid disease. Therefore, these conditions and other digestive problems such as constipation and bloating must be identified and treated.
3. Take care of your liver
The liver is an important organ that converts thyroid hormones and breaks down estrogen. Therefore, it is very important to keep the liver function as optimal as possible. To support the liver, you can eliminate dietary triggers such as alcohol, add supplements, reduce exposure to toxins, and exercise regularly.
4. Sleep more
While you sleep, your body amazingly repairs tissues, builds memories, and detoxifies body. More sleep means more toxins are eliminated and old cells and excess hormones are broken down.
5. Reduce stress
Chronically high cortisol levels can stress the adrenal glands, which play an important role in estrogen production. Chronic stress also exacerbates autoimmune diseases and increases inflammation, so there are health benefits to relaxing more and worrying less.
Therefore, addressing the root cause is most effective in Hashimoto’s patients who also have symptoms of estrogen dominance, as many underlying factors may be involved. If you have negative symptoms and suspect estrogen dominance, talk to your doctor for an appropriate test and see if your strategy can play a beneficial role in maintaining and supporting hormonal balance.
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