One of the most common complaints among women is weight gain. Although some want to gain weight, the majority of the women want to shed pounds and maintain their ideal body weight. The key to weight loss is maintaining a calorie deficit, eating healthy, and exercising regularly. However, what happens if you abide by these practices and still cannot get rid of fat?
In most cases, it means that the problem is arising from within, specifically from a hormonal imbalance. Weight gain does not always result from being less active and eating unhealthy. Another common cause of weight gain in women is an imbalance in progesterone and estrogen levels.
Such an imbalance has resulted in what we refer to as estrogen dominance. It is believed that there is an estrogen dominance weight loss correlation. Let us discuss this concept and thoroughly analyze its myths and facts.
What Is Estrogen?
When many people hear of this hormone, they immediately relate it to the female gender. Well, estrogen is certainly the primary female sex hormone. However, it does not mean that it is only present among women. Men also produce estrogen but in small amounts.
It is the case with the hormone testosterone. Women also produce testosterone but in limited amounts. In women, this hormone is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat tissues.
Although most people relate estrogen to female sexual and reproductive health, it does perform other roles. In males, this hormone also helps with sexual functioning. It also contributes to the following functions in women (3):
- Stimulates the growth of the egg follicle
- Maintains the thickness of the vaginal walls and promotes lubrication
- Enhance and maintain the mucous membrane lining the uterus
- Helps the body form the breast tissue
- Regulates the thickness and flow of the uterine mucus secretions
- Helps cease the flow of milk after the weaning phase
- Helps with cognitive and bone health
- Aids in the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system
- Helps with other important bodily processes
Types Of Estrogen
Medical News today acknowledges the existence of various types of estrogen, which helps with different functions. They are as follows (3):
- Estrone (E1). This particular type is produced in the body after menopause. It is a weaker variation that the body converts to estrogen if needed.
- Estradiol (E2). This type is produced by both males and females. It is particularly common in women during their reproductive years. However, too much of it will still cause harm. Excess estradiol in the body can cause acne, osteoporosis, depression, and loss of sex drive. Abnormally high amounts of estradiol may result in an increased risk of breast and uterine cancer.
- Estriol (E3). The last type is called estriol, and its level spikes during pregnancy or just before birth. It assists in the growth of the uterus and also helps with the preparation of the body for delivery.
What Is Estrogen Dominance?
WebMD defines estrogen dominance as the period in which a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels are out of balance (4). Progesterone is another sex hormone produced in the woman’s body.
It means that during this period, the estrogen levels become too high while the progesterone levels become too low. Such an imbalance tends to wreak havoc in numerous body functions, especially in the body’s ability to maintain its ideal body weight.
In females, these high estrogen levels can lead to weight gain, especially around the waist and hips. These are among the two areas that most women target when it comes to transforming their body shape.
You might be doing everything right by the book and still cannot get rid of fat around these areas. Estrogen dominance may perhaps shed more light on why this is the case. On the other hand, if these estrogen levels become abnormally high, they may result in menstrual problems.
These include light spotting, irregular periods, heavy bleeding, or more severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) (5). If you are a woman, you will experience the following symptoms subsequent to a spike in this hormone (5):
- Cold hands and feet
- Hair loss
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low sex drive
- Tender or swollen breasts
- Memory problems
- Mood changes, anxiety, or depression
- Non-cancerous breast lumps
- Uterine fibroids (non-cancerous growths that tend to develop on, in, or around the uterus)
The symptoms of high estrogen levels in men will be slightly different. According to Medical News Today, they will include (5):
- Erectile dysfunction
- Enlarged breasts or gynecomastia
Estrogen Dominance Weight Loss Facts And Myths
As mentioned earlier, estrogen dominance means that your body is producing more estrogen than progesterone levels. Your body needs a balance of these two hormones to help you maintain your ideal body weight.
Most people who lack insight into this information tend to develop mind-boggling assumptions about the impact of estrogen dominance on weight. So in this segment, we will be evaluating and discussing the myths and facts about the effects of estrogen dominance. They are as follows:
Myth: Estrogen is a sex hormone that has nothing to do with weight gain or weight loss.
Fact: Estrogen does play a crucial role in determining if you maintain your ideal body weight. It also performs more functions in addition to maintaining a female’s sexual and reproductive health. One of them happens to be maintaining hormonal balance to avoid weight changes.
Myth: Estrogen dominance helps with weight loss.
Fact: Estrogen dominance leads to weight gain in women. Remember that the body needs a balance in the estrogen and progesterone levels to help maintain the ideal body weight. So, any change in the estrogen levels will make you gain weight.
You are required to talk to your healthcare provider to determine if you truly have an imbalance in these two sex hormones. It will entail taking a blood test. In this test, the doctor will measure your estrogen levels in picograms per milliliter (pg/ml) (5).
Counteracting Estrogen Dominance
To prevent weight gain from estrogen dominance, you need to first make sure that this is caused by the said hormonal imbalance. So, as mentioned earlier, you ought to take a blood test. If the results indicate high estrogen levels and low progesterone levels, then your doctor may recommend several things.
These practices may help in counteracting estrogen dominance, ceasing the weight gain from this hormonal imbalance. This estrogen dominance effective weight loss techniques might include:
Eating Various Foods
This is one of the best weight loss programs for women with estrogen dominance, and it is generally safe. Some foods may help in reducing your overall estrogen levels. They include red grapes, mushrooms, flaxseeds, whole grains, broccoli, and cauliflower (5). You ought to avoid animal products like dairy, as they tend to contain high amounts of estrogen. Remember that the key is lowering the amount of this hormone to prevent estrogen dominance that contributes to weight gain.
In some cases, a doctor may feel the need to recommend a drug to help reduce your estrogen levels. However, in some cases, they might be forced to lower your dose or recommend an alternative medication. It can happen if the medication you are currently using is what causes the increase of your levels of this hormone.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
HRT is also known as menopausal hormone therapy. It is a procedure that can help balance the progesterone and estrogen levels during or near the menopausal period (9). You need to be extra cautious when considering this intervention as it has adverse side effects. Some of them include vaginal bleeding, nausea, bloating, acne, indigestion, leg cramps, mood changes, depression, and migraine. It may also result in back or abdominal pain, swelling in your breasts or other body parts, and breast tenderness.
Impact Of Low Estrogen Levels On Body Weight
High estrogen levels are not only to be blamed for weight gain. Most people assume low estrogen levels automatically contribute to or promote weight loss. Contrary to what most people think, low estrogen amounts also contribute to weight gain.
According to Medical News Today, low levels of the estrogen type known as estradiol may result in cardiovascular disease and weight gain (5). In most cases, low estrogen levels in women arise from menopause.
The CDC acknowledges that during menopause, a woman’s ovaries stop producing progesterone and estrogen hormones (10). Similarly, during this period, menstruation comes to a halt. As a result, most women tend to notice or report some weight gain.
The reason for this weight gain lies in hormonal changes. Estradiol is responsible for regulating your body weight and metabolism (1). Its low production thereby affects these two body functions, leading to weight gain.
Estrogen And Abdominal Fat Dangers
In most cases, you will gain weight around your abdomen and mid-section after menopause. The fat deposited around these two areas is known as visceral fat. It is not only quite challenging to lose but also very dangerous, as it has been linked to health risks such as (8):
- Colorectal and breast cancer
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Type 2 diabetes
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Increased insulin resistance
Reasons Of Low Estrogen Levels In Women
Besides these lowered estrogen levels, weight gain is also prevalent in women after menopause due to various reasons. First and foremost, older adults burn calories at a similar rate to younger individuals (6), so they tend to burn calories slower.
Similarly, they tend to be less active, limiting how many calories they burn in a day. Coupled with the low estrogen levels, these factors do contribute to weight gain. However, menopause is not the only culprit for low estrogen amounts in your body. Other reasons include:
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
It is a condition that leads to the development of numerous small cysts on the ovaries and various hormonal imbalances (7). It may, for example, lead to an imbalance in estrogen and progesterone levels.
After giving birth, a woman tends to produce low estrogen during the period in which she is breastfeeding.
Surgically removing your ovaries means that you will no longer produce the sex hormones progesterone and estrogen.
This is a fatal eating disorder that makes you eat fewer calories. It may put your body in starvation mode and reduce the estrogen amounts released by the body.
Exercising vigorously may also contribute to low estrogen production due to low body fat levels.
How Do I Determine If I Have Low Estrogen Levels?
The truth of the matter is that you cannot work on something with little information. It means that you cannot start looking for interventions without being 100% sure that you have low estrogen levels. The most accurate way to determine this is by taking a blood test. However, you can still take home saliva or urine test.
The blood test takes about five minutes when administered by a licensed physician. In the urine test, your doctor will ask you to collect all the urine you pass in 24 hours (2). On the other hand, the doctor will see you through testing and collecting of the sample using the home saliva test.
You are more likely to test positive for low estrogen levels if you also experience the following symptoms:
- Dry skin
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
- Missed or irregular periods
- Hot flashes
- Irritability or moodiness
If you do have low estrogen levels, then your doctor will recommend an intervention that best suits your needs. It might be healthy eating, medication, or another strategy that the physician believes can help with your problem.
Weight gain is not necessarily about what you eat or how active you are. There are other factors, such as your hormones that can impact your body weight. In women, an imbalance in the estrogen and progesterone hormones leads to estrogen dominance, which contributes to weight gain.
Estrogen dominance weight loss myths are quite common. The truth is that estrogen dominance does not promote weight loss but instead weight gain. You can counteract its effects by taking medications, eating healthy, or trying hormonal replacement therapy. Make sure to talk to your doctor before settling on any intervention for more insight into the benefits and risks of each strategy.