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What is hyperestrogenism, what are its causes and types?

hyperestrogenism causes and types

What is hyperestrogenism? Causes and types

Hyperestrogenism means, literally excess estrogen. And this concept, which seems quite simple, hides many complexities that we are going to explain in this article.

But starting from the beginning, excess estrogen can basically occur for two very different reasons:

  • Because they are producing too much estrogen.
  • Because less estrogen is eliminated, or more slowly than normal.

Hyperestrogenism is relevant because it increases the risk of suffering from different gynecological pathologies such as premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis, endometrial hyperplasia (uncontrolled growth of the endometrium, without being cancerous), heavy bleeding during menstruation, breast fibrosis, uterine fibroids and even cancer. breast, ovary or endometrium.

There are many pathologies that are directly or indirectly related (or may be) to hyperestrogenism.

We are going to explain these circumstances in a little more detail and present what we can do to prevent them.

Hyperestrogenism due to excessive production of estrogens

To understand the situations in which the body could manufacture more estrogens than necessary, you must know that estrogens are manufactured from androgens or male hormones.

These androgens are transformed into estrogens by an enzyme. And this enzyme can be accelerated due to excess insulin in the blood. That is, anything that produces insulin spikes or high insulin levels will favor the transformation of androgens into estrogens.

These insulin spikes occur when we follow a diet rich in carbohydrates, pastries, dairy products, processed foods, juices - even natural ones - and soft drinks.

Relative excess of estrogen

During the menstrual cycle of women there is a dynamic balance between two hormones: estrogen and progesterone.

If a woman's ability to produce progesterone is affected, the absence of this hormone It will show an excess of estrogen that is not real.

In these cases, it is not that there is too much estrogen but that there is little progesterone. And, due to this lack of progesterone, the ratio is favorable to estrogens.

It is known as relative estrogen excess. It is common in women who have problems ovulating correctly or producing progesterone in normal amounts. This is the case, for example, of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). You can see our post on how to treat PCOS here (Link).

Excess free estrogen: functional hyperestrogenism

Hormones need transport molecules to travel through the body. When hormones are bound to these molecules, they have almost no activity.

But if they are free, they do develop their hormonal functions.

Thus, any process that limits the production of sex hormone transport molecules (Albumin and SHGH) will cause more free estrogens, generating a situation of functional hyperestrogenism.

These transporters are manufactured in the liver, so any condition that compromises their correct production increases the chances of suffering from hyperestrogenism.

In addition, it is known that age, overweight, insulin resistance, chronic low-grade inflammation, and excess sugar and dairy in the diet reduce its amount.

On the contrary, good levels of vitamin D, correct thyroid function, losing weight and physical exercise increase their number, thus controlling the hormonal activity of estrogens.

The use of olive oil, the consumption of nuts such as almonds, or eating fruits, vegetables and oily fish improves SHBG levels.

Saturated fats from processed meat and dairy reduce them, as do free sugars and simple carbohydrates. Again, a healthy diet that prevents blood sugar and insulin spikes is a versatile and powerful tool for maintaining health in many different aspects.

Excess estrogen coming from outside: endocrine disruptors

Finally, it is interesting to note that there are substances in our immediate environment that behave like false estrogens.

They are known as endocrine disruptors because they alter normal hormonal function. These substances can be present in the air, in food, in different fabrics that we use, in kitchen utensils (bisphenol A or BPA), in cans, in toys... but above all in foods that have been highly treated with pesticides and pesticides.

The main consequence of these is an altered estrogen response that usually generates complications in fertility processes, as well as other alterations due to hyperestrogenism.

Hyperestrogenism due to poor elimination of estrogens

Once produced and used, hormones must be eliminated from the body. This process of metabolizing estrogens, among other hormones, takes place mainly in the liver.

If this main elimination pathway fails or is slowed, other tissues may try to help break down estrogen, but they do it in a very inflammatory way. This secondary route of estrogen metabolism increases the risk of suffering from all the pathologies that we have already related to hyperestrogenism.

Any condition that hinders proper liver function could contribute to this abnormal situation: fatty liver, diet rich in carbohydrates, diet rich in fructose, excessive intestinal permeability, excess of toxins (tobacco, alcohol, or exposure to pesticides or herbicides), etc.

Part of the waste from the metabolism of estrogens is excreted through the urine, while others reach the intestine to be eliminated.

A correct intestinal flora is essential to avoid a condition of hyperestrogenism due to poor elimination of estrogens. Following a diet based on the consumption of vegetables, protein and quality fats and some fruit and nuts is also necessary to maintain healthy flora.

How do I know if I have hypoestrogenism?

An imbalance in estrogen levels can cause diseases that affect various systems such as the immune, metabolic and neuronal systems.

Hyperestrogenism may be responsible for some of these symptoms:

  • Premenstrual syndrome (breast tenderness, pain in the area of the ovaries and uterus, lower back and leg pain, fatigue, irritability or depression, fluid retention, headache or migraines or anxiety about eating sweets).
  • Alteration of menstrual cycles (both in quantity and frequency).
  • Anxiety, irritability, depression.
  • Compulsive increase in appetite.
  • Loss of libido.
  • Shallow sleep.
  • Muscle contractures.
  • Excess vaginal discharge.
  • Weight gain and fluid retention.
  • Hypothyroidism or difficulty losing weight.

In the long term, hyperestrogenism can also increase the risk of suffering from:

  • PCOS.
  • Varicose syndrome.
  • Ovarian cysts.
  • Endometrial changes (from hyperplasia to endometrial cancer).
  • Fibroids, fibrous breasts, endometriosis.
  • Breast disorders (mastopathy, fibroadenomas or cancer).
  • Skin disorders such as acne or hirsutism.
  • Proliferation of various types of cancer associated with the overexpression of the estrogen receptor.
  • Alteration of fertility.
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and multiple sclerosis.

Furthermore, there seems to be a certain tendency for people to be perfectionists, self-demanding, planners, obsessive, controlling, far from improvisation, efficient and constant. And they probably tend to clench their teeth at night (bruxism).

There are more complex laboratory tests to determine the ratio between the different types of estrogen, the levels of SHBG and homocysteine in the blood, or to assess the existence of gastritis that could affect the liver to eliminate estrogen.

All these tests must be scheduled by a specialized health professional.

How to prevent hyperestrogenism?

Diet and physical exercise are two great allies to reduce a situation of hyperestrogenism.

Reducing blood sugar spikes is one of the first steps to take.

To do this, choose complex carbohydrates (vegetables, legumes, some cereal but whole grain) and avoid free sugars from juices, soft drinks, snacks, pastries, dressings or alcohol. And if, for any reason, you eat these products, do not eat them alone, but try to eat, at the same time, some food rich in fiber, fat or protein. Foods rich in fiber also decrease the activity of the aromatase enzyme.

The consumption of quality protein is essential for the proper functioning of the liver and its estrogen elimination process.

For the correct management of estrogens in the liver, some specific vitamins and minerals are necessary. This is the case of magnesium, group B vitamins and trimethylglycine, which is mainly found in beets.

And foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as oily fish, walnuts, chia and flax seeds are essential.

On the other hand, there are also foods capable of modulating the activation of estrogen receptors. This is the case of B complex vitamins that you can find in foods such as sardines, whole eggs, liver, lean beef and chicken, fish, yeasts and seeds such as sunflower, walnuts.

Some examples of foods to include in the diet would be:

  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid): beets, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, seaweed, legumes, green leaves, avocado or cod liver.
  • Vitamin B12: Seafood, fish, meat, egg yolk and spirulina algae.
  • Vitamin B6: Pistachios, banana, dates, potato, garlic, cabbage.
  • Vitamin B2: Whole grains, oily fish, cheeses, sesame, nuts, cod liver.
  • Magnesium: Spinach, cocoa, nuts, legumes, sesame.
  • Methionine: Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, sesame, nuts.
  • Choline: Egg yolk, Brazil nuts, peanuts, etc.
  • Inositol: Whole grains and legumes.
  • Trimethylglycine: Broccoli, beets, spinach.

On the contrary, try to reduce the consumption of foods rich in estrogen such as dairy products and their derivatives (cheese, yogurt, cream...).

You should avoid foods with a high glycemic index, such as refined grains, refined sugar, soft drinks, gum or candy with sugar or sweeteners, alcohol and coffee. And if you consume cereals, make them whole grains.

Additionally, another tip is to consume as much organic pesticide-free products as possible, reduce the use of hygiene and cosmetic products, use Teflon-free pans and do not reheat plastics. Also try to spend time in nature and breathe clean air.

If you feel identified with this article, we suggest that you put yourself in the hands of a professional specialized in the matter for more personalized attention.


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