If you’ve gotten your hormones tested and were expecting to see high estrogen due to common excess estrogen symptoms (acne, PMS, mood changes, weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, painful/heavy periods, sluggish thyroid, etc.), but were surprised to see it was actually low, this post is for you.
I cannot tell you how many clients I’ve worked with are struggling with high estrogen symptoms, but have low levels. What’s the deal? Why does this happen?
Estrogen can accumulate in the tissues. Yes, it’s made in our ovaries and by our adrenals, but we also store estrogen and even produce some on a tissue level.
How Estrogen Becomes Tissue Bound
When certain hormones are out of balance, our tissues are actually much more likely to start accumulating estrogen. Research has shown that low levels of progesterone in both menstruating and post menopausal women lead to estrogen more likely being bound to the tissues. When estrogen is bound in the tissues, you can still have estrogen dominant symptoms, but low levels appear on your test. Low levels of progesterone can also make normal levels of progesterone appear high in the body and also lead to estrogen dominant symptoms.
Another important factor in tissue levels of estrogen is thyroid function and active thyroid hormone. When we don’t have adequate levels of thyroid hormone, especially the active form (free T3), estrogen is also more likely to accumulate. This makes sense since we need adequate thyroid hormone to make enough progestrone.
The last main area is chronic stress. Most of us will see low levels of estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol when we’ve been dealing with chronic stress. Another helpful marker to look at is reverse T3. Reverse T3 puts the brakes on thyroid hormone and increases when we are experiencing excessive stress.
What To Do About Tissue Bound Estrogen
If you think this might be you, the good news is, all of the information I typically share on supporting healthy hormones is applicable. Why? Because my focus is on naturally producing more progesterone and supporting thyroid function to bring your hormones into balance. When we focus on lowering or increasing only one specific hormone/area, we are missing the big picture. Supporting thyroid health, slowly chipping away at controllable stressors, and fueling your body appropriately will get you on the path to hormone balance.
What helps us make more progesterone?
Before you make a plan to increase your progesterone, you should first ask yourself a few questions. What is inhibiting me from making progesterone? Am I eating enough? Do I have a dysfunctional thyroid or metabolism? Am I missing essential amino acids? So, here’s what you can do to help boost your progesterone production:
Changes To Expect When Improving Hormone Balance
I’ve talked about this in the past, but when we start eating enough food, balancing meals, eating frequently to balance blood sugar and reduce stress, we start to lower cortisol. What often happens when we move from a state of constant high cortisol to lower cortisol? We don’t feel as good. This is why we can’t always go based on how we feel. Sometimes we need to trust that our bodies are moving from a chronically stress, cortisol addicted state, to finding balance.
When we start reducing cortisol and boosting progesterone naturally, we tend to not feel so hot. You might feel more fatigued, still feeling tired when you wake up, not have quite as much pep in your step. Your periods can actually get worse. Most of my clients feel better initially, especially energy-wise, and have a great period, then their next cycle isn’t so hot. What’s causing this? Estrogen leaving the tissues. This means our bodies need to get rid of that estrogen and are beginning to have a better functioning thyroid, more progesterone, and start eliminating. Even when metabolic function has improved, if we move estrogen from the tissues, we still experience estrogen dominance. This usually only lasts 2-3 cycles then leaves the body.
Here are some ways to support the body in moving that excess estrogen:
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