In the past 40 years, we have seen a dramatic rise in female-related illnesses never seen before in history. Today, we see the age of puberty (menarche) dropping precipitously to as low as 10 years of age, endometriosis afflicting 10% of all perimenopausal women; Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), rising and afflicting close to 30% of perimenopausal women, uterine fibroids affecting close to 25 % of women from age 35 to 50, and breast cancer afflicting close to 10% of all women.
Being a woman in the 21st century is certainly a high risk profession. Navigating through this hazardous profession is not easy. Imagine having endometriosis, PMS and fibrocystic breasts when you were young, progressing to uterine fibroids, hysterectomy, misguided hormone replacement and ultimately breast cancer as your menopause approaches. The very thought of this journey can send chills up through anyone's spine. Fortunately, scientific evidence is mounting that hormone disruption is the key cause of all these seemingly separate but related diseases.
For too long, we have ignored the importance of hormone balance. For too long, physicians have been misguided on the real truth on hormonal balance. Now, we know that the common thread in many female hormone diseases such as those mentioned above is a little known condition known as estrogen dominance. The underlying problem is a relative excess of estrogen and an absolute deficiency in progesterone. In the west, the prevalence of estrogen dominance syndrome approaches 50 percent in women over 35 years old.
Estrogen Effect vs. Progesterone Effect
Progesterone acts as an antagonist to estrogen. For example, estrogen stimulates breast cysts while progesterone protects against breast cysts. Estrogen enhances salt and water retention while progesterone is a natural diuretic. Estrogen has been associated with breast and endometrial cancers, while progesterone has a cancer preventive effect. Studies have shown that pre-menopausal women who were deficient in progesterone had 5.4 times the risk of breast cancer compared to healthy women.
The following lists clearly shows how progesterone and estrogen balances each other. It is very important to note that both hormones are necessary for optimum function. Progesterone will not work without some estrogen in the body to "prime the pump", for example.
Causes endometrium to proliferate
Causes breast stimulation that can lead to breast cancer
Increases body fat
Increase endometrial cancer risk
Increase gallbladder disease risk
Restrains osteoclast function slightly
Reduces vascular tone
Increase blood clot risk
Maintains secretory endometrius
Protects against fibrocystic breast and prevents breast cancer
Helps use fat for energy
Prevents endometrial cancer
Promote osteoblast function, leading to bone growth
Restores vascular tone
Normalize blood clot
WHAT IS ESTROGEN DOMINANCE?
Estrogen and progesterone work in synchronization with each other as checks and balances to achieve hormonal harmony in both sexes. It is not the absolute deficiency of estrogen or progesterone but rather the relative dominance of estrogen and relative deficiency of progesterone that is main cause of health problems when they are off balance.
While sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone decline with age gradually, there is a drastic change in the rate of decline during the perimenopausal and menopausal years for the women in these two hormones as mentioned earlier.
From age 35 to 50, there is a 75% reduction in production of progesterone in the body. Estrogen, during the same period, only declines about 35%. By menopause, the total amount of progesterone made is extremely low, while estrogen is still present in the body at about half its pre-menopausal level.
With the gradual drop in estrogen but severe drop in progesterone, there is insufficient progesterone to counteract the amount of estrogen in our body. This state is called estrogen dominance. Many women in their mid-thirties, most women during peri-menopause (mid-forties), and essentially all women during menopause (age 50 and beyond) are overloaded with estrogen and at the same time suffering from progesterone deficiency because of the severe drop in physiological production during this period. The end result - excessive estrogen relative to progesterone, a condition we called estrogen dominance.
According to Dr. John Lee, the world's authority on natural hormone therapy, the key to hormonal balance is the modulation of progesterone to estrogen ratio. For optimum health, the progesterone to estrogen ratio should be between 200 and 300 to 1.
Note: It is now believed that a ratio of 600:1 is optimal!!!
WHAT IS SO BAD ABOUT ESTROGEN DOMINANCE?
It is the root cause of a myriad of illnesses. Conditions associated with this include fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, uterine fibroids, breast cancer, endometriosis, infertility problem, endometrial polyps, PCOS, auto-immune disorders, low blood sugar problems, and menstrual pain, among many others.
Solution: Natural Progesterone Therapy
Often when a person is estrogen dominance progesterone levels are low. Supplementing with a bio-identical progesterone product helps to balance the ratio between estrogen and progesterone, thereby assisting in promoting proper hormone balance. Progesterone can be safely used by menstruating women, pre- and peri-menopausal women, and menopausal women. Men with estrogen dominance can also benefit from progesterone. Additionally, women who may not be highly estrogen dominant but struggle with severe PMS often find that if a progesterone cream is used on a regular basis, their menses and PMS are less difficult.