Understanding Estrogen Dominance

By Monica Hoss, MS, RD, LD
April 4, 2023

estrogen-dominance.jpgWe need estrogen for our reproductive, cardiovascular and bone health. Our body is just like Goldilocks though… it wants estrogen levels to be just right and not too high or too low! Too much estrogen can lead to many unpleasant symptoms and even more serious conditions. You’ve probably heard hormone fluctuations that lead to PMS, bloating, fluid retention, and breast tenderness are a normal part of being a woman. These symptoms, however, don’t have to be the norm and may be a sign of high estrogen levels or symptoms of estrogen dominance.  

You might be surprised to hear this isn’t just a women’s health issue. Men are also impacted by estrogen dominance.

The good news is that there are many things we can do to balance your estrogen and correct high levels through nutrition and lifestyle. Let’s look at why high estrogen levels can be a problem, why estrogen might be high in the first place, and what you can do about it.

Health Concerns Associated with Excess Estrogen Levels

Today, girls as young as 9 and 10 are starting their first menstrual cycle, much earlier than the typical age of 13. This is a sign they are being exposed to too much estrogen. Other signs of excess estrogen in women include irregular periods, endometriosis, infertility, and hormonal headaches. A body sign of high estrogen is excess weight around the hips, thighs and low abdomen while also finding it difficult to lose weight. For some women, estrogen dominance takes a more serious and life-threatening form, such as breast cancer, endometrial cancer,  or uterine cancer. Autoimmune disorders including lupus and thyroiditis have also been linked to estrogen dominance and other hormonal imbalances.

Men Can Also Experience Estrogen Dominance

Men may experience loss of sex drive, abdominal weight gain, enlarged prostate and prostate cancer. In fact, estrogen is a key contributor to 50% of all prostate cancer cases.

Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance:

Signs and symptoms of estrogen dominance may feel different from one person to another. My clients with estrogen dominance usually complain of:

  • Endometriosis
  • PCOS
  • Acne along jaw line or chin, especially cystic acne
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches/migraines that are triggered by period or ovulation
  • PMS
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Painful periods
  • Irregular periods
  • Bloating and water retention
  • Hot flashes
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Mood changes during menstrual cycle and during perimenopause
  • Infertility
  • Low sex drive
  • Fatigue

You may feel miserable but be assured that the symptoms of estrogen dominance can be reversed.

Sources of Estrogen

Why are so many people becoming estrogen dominant these days? There are a few different causes:


Toxic estrogens, called xenoestrogens, lead to estrogen dominance in both men and women. They can also be referred to as endocrine disruptors because they mimic estrogen in our bodies and can cause hormone imbalance. Xenoestrogens come from things you may come in contact with everyday including plastic water bottles, home-cleaning chemicals, pesticides and herbicides, as well as industrial chemicals that can be found in the air and water.

Common names for these chemicals are DDT, PCB, and sulfates used as foaming agents.

Although you are not likely to eat these products, simply having contact with them day after day can add up to a toxic load over time in your body.

Xenoestrogens can also be found in food sources, mainly pork, beef, and dairy cows that have been given growth hormones orally or through injections. Although it is illegal to treat chickens with growth hormones, most chickens raised in confinement are given antibiotics. The antibiotics used to prevent illness in all livestock are stored in their fat, so when you eat these products, antibiotic residues can lead to hormoal imbalance and estrogen dominance.

Prescription medication with hormones

Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also cause estrogen dominance because they contain estrogen. Interestingly, the estrogen dominance symptoms many women experience with estrogen dominance are masked by these certain medications. These medications keep estrogen levels consistently high so that hormone fluctuations are not felt and estrogen dominance symptoms appear to subside. However, the root cause of the symptoms—high estrogen—has not been addressed, only masked.

Excess body fat

In women, estrogen is primarily made in the ovaries with small amounts being made by other tissues including adipose tissue. Having extra weight, especially in the hips, waist, and thighs, creates and stores excess estrogen in both men and women. Adipose tissue will absorb and keep estrogen in your bloodstream.

Low progesterone levels

Estrogen levels can be high when progesterone levels are low. Your progesterone production can be low if you’re not ovulating due to menopause, taking birth control, or other menstrual cycle issues. Low progesterone could also be from chronic stress!


Removing Excess Estrogen from Your Body

It is important to eliminate excess estrogen daily. As a dietitian, I recommend:

  • Getting eight to nine hours of sleep each night.
  • Drinking eight to twelve glasses (8oz. each) of water daily. Make sure it's filtered (not straight out of the tap).
  • Moving your body several times each week.
  • Consuming a variety of vegetables daily, especially leafy green vegetables and cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Being mindful of xenoestrogens and switching to safer personal care, household and cleaning products.
  • Having a bowel movement every day. This is the final phase of detoxification. If you aren’t having a bowel movement daily, then you aren’t getting estrogen out.

Supplements That Can Help

When clients have symptoms of high estrogen, I often recommend specific supplements to help them combat estrogen dominance, in addition to the lifestyle and nutrition changes mentioned above.

Estro I-3-C: 

The main ingredient in this product is indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which is a naturally occurring compound that comes from cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, bok choy). This supplement also contains DIM, a compound that I-3-C creates in the body. The combination of the two in supplement form has been found to be very beneficial for helping both the gut and the liver metabolize estrogen.

For dosing, take 1 capsule twice daily. Typically, the symptoms caused by estrogen dominance will start to go away or improve after three to six months.

Estro ReBalance:

This product has isoflavones, carnosic acid, and curcumin to promote metabolism of the healthy estrogen pathway. It also contains antioxidants that are important for reducing free radicals and can act as a phytoestrogen, which helps prevent unhealthy xenoestrogens. We have found that this works especially well for women in perimenopause and menopause who are experiencing a lot of estrogen dominance symptoms.

For dosing, take 2-3 capsules daily and expect to see improvements after three to six months. Some people may need more, so work with your dietitian or nutritionist to see what is right for you.

*Note: Estro I-3-C and Estro ReBalance may reduce the effectiveness of the birth control pill if you’re using it for contraception

Digestive Health Supplements

I may also recommend supplements that help support digestive health. A healthy gut is necessary for estrogen metabolism and making sure our body moves estrogen along for excretion. If your gut isn’t healthy then your body may not be able to get rid of excess estrogen and it can actually be reactivated and reabsorbed.

Need help with digestive health? Check out our on-demand class Gut Reaction: Restore Digestive Health through Nutrition for only $25!

Purchase Class 

NutriKey Key Greens & Fruits

For clients who enjoy smoothies I like to recommend they add NutriKey Key Greens and Fruits to their protein shakes. This powder contains more than 50 superfoods, packed with vitamins and minerals that support liver health and estrogen detox.


Start Ridding Your Body of Extra Estrogen

In the coming days and weeks, how are you going to reduce your exposure to excess estrogen?

Here are some easy ways to combat estrogen dominance: 

  • Pack leftovers in glass containers instead of plastic.
  • Eat a variety of green vegetables every day. I like to sauté kale for a breakfast frittata, pack a large spinach salad for lunch at work, snack on cauliflower and broccoli in the afternoon, and serve braised purple cabbage at supper.
  • Eat grass-fed meat and free-range poultry whenever it is available.
  • Eat high fiber foods to make sure you are having a daily bowel movement.
  • Drink eight to twelve glasses of filtered water daily.
  • Reduce or eliminate sugar and processed carbs.
  • Get eight to nine hours of sleep each night.
  • Make sure you get some physical activity each week.

Balancing your reproductive hormones can feel like a daunting task when you’re experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. It is possible and we are here for you! Check out our free resources and, when you’re ready to work closely with us, schedule an appointment for that 1:1 support.


Resources for balancing hormones:




About the author

Monica has a passion for nutrition and counseling. Her psychology background helps her guide her clients through making lifestyle changes that stick. “I like to be very realistic with people and have them make small changes at a time so that they can turn them into habits. I’m big on giving yourself grace and having a positive mindset when it comes to healthy eating. I want to break the 'all or nothing' mentality and help people to develop a healthy relationship with food. My goal is for my clients to stop letting food control their lives and instead have it become a natural part of their lives that doesn’t require overthinking.”

View all posts by Monica Hoss, MS, RD, LD

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