The Pill Series Part 3: The pill and hormone imbalances
In this post, we are going to talk about estrogen dominance and polycystic ovarian syndrom (PCOS). These are pretty big and complicated topic, like the rest of them, but I will break it down high level so you have the information you need.
What is Estrogen Dominance?
First and foremost, estrogen isn't inherently bad. We need estrogen for multiple functions but when we have too much it can lead to some unpleasant symptoms and potentially increase our risk of estrogen-related cancers.
Estrogen dominance can be frank, meaning you have too much estrogen and there is also relative estrogen dominance when you have too much in relation to the amount of progesterone.
The pill increases estrogen while also containing synthetic progesterone called progestin which actually decreases natural progesterone production. As mentioned earlier, that could be tied to "relative" estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance can lead to:
- painful periods
- PMS symptoms
- breast tenderness
- ovarian cysts
- changes in mood
- weight gain
- increased risk of estrogen-related cancers
Quick note on low estrogen:
As mentioned before, estrogen is still an important hormone, so when you have too little, you may experience joint issues, changes in mood, fatigue, painful sex, irregular periods and so on. Birth control can also be related to low estrogen levels so although estrogen dominance gets a lot of attention, you may need to look at low estrogen as well. This is why proper testing is important!
How Do I Support My Body?
- As I have said before, get proper testing done so your health care practitioner can make an informed decision
- Support your liver. Since our livers help detoxify estrogen, they have to work hard to make sure that excess estrogen gets out of our bodies through our stools before getting reabsorbed into our bodies to then be recirculated. Support your gut health with:
- foods which support liver health such as cruciferous vegetables, dandelion tea, garlic, leafy greens and green tea
- supplementation in the form of NAC, DIM, calcium-D-gluterate, and liposomal glutathione
- supporting your overall gut health with hydration, fiber, stress management, fermented foods, and so on
- Adequate Sleep
- Stress Management
- Use natural personal care and cleaning products. Many contain xenoestrogens which mimic estrogen in the body
You bet, Post-Birth Control Syndrome (PCBS) has been linked to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and here's the thing, you may not actually have PCOS but may experience the same symptoms because of coming off the pill. This is not to scare you and make you want to stay on the pill but rather to inform you so you can understand and support your body as it transitions coming off the pill.
According to Dr. Jolene Brighten:
"Women mistakenly get diagnosed with PCOS because the pill leads to insulin resistance, suppresses ovulation, and can cause testosterone to climb once you stop taking it. A testosterone increase can be due to blood sugar issues or what is referred to as the androgen rebound, which is the increase in testosterone production that can occur when you stop the pill."
What can this lead to?
- insulin resistance
- thinning hair
- hair growth in unwanted places
- changes in mood
- irregular cycle
- weight gain
How Can I Support My Body?
- get proper testing done
- support gut health
- manage stress
- adequate sleep
- vitamin D
- omega-3 fatty acids
- anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric
- intermittent fasting may be helpful
- switch to natural personal care and cleaning products
- and more!
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