Thyroid and Estrogen Dominance
- Q: What is Estrogen Dominance?
- A: This condition is when the body makes too much estrogen (also called estradiol), which throws off the balance of thyroid hormone, progesterone and testosterone. As an aside, YES, healthy women do produce a small amount of testosterone just as healthy men produce small amount of the major female sex hormone. In cases of an estrogen dominance pattern, patients may exhibit menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, low libido and problems with fertility.
- Q: Can thyroid problems cause early menopause?
- A: Yes. Low thyroid and menopause happening early can often be related to one another. The cluster of symptoms associated with low thyroid and estrogen dominance are often associated with menopause: unwanted weight gain, low-energy/fatigue, loss of libido, hair loss, brain-fog/confusion, depression and irregular menstrual cycles. Resolving the deep intrigues of thyroid health while balancing estrogen levels naturally is a primary care goal when I treat symptoms of early menopause in patients.
- Q: How Are Thyroid and Estrogen Dominance Connected?
- A: This is really a question of how does estrogen affect thyroid levels? Estrogen dominance forces the liver to produce more of a hormone called “Thyroxine Binding Globulin (TBG).” As its name implies, TBG binds to thyroid hormone in the body, reducing the amount of free/usable thyroid hormone in the body. In this way, the often undiagnosed endocrine imbalance known as estrogen dominance leads to a huge drop in thyroid hormone available to be utilized by the body’s cells.
- Q: Can menopause cause thyroid issues?
- A: Yes, Perimenopausal women can often fall into a pattern of estrogen dominance, which can wreak serious havoc on the endocrine system and one’s general health and well-being. A side effect of this pattern is reduced thyroid in the body. The good news is that in my clinical practice I make it a priority to help women regain hormonal balance so they can reclaim their quality of life.
- Q: Can estrogen dominance cause hair loss?
- A: Yes. The pattern of estrogen dominance and thyroid dysfunction causes the liver to eliminate more T3/T4 FROM the body. Not surprisingly, one of the symptoms of low thyroid is hair loss. In this way, we get closer to the root of hair loss (pun is coincidental, but acknowledged).
- Q: Can men develop thyroid problems?
- A: Yes, both males and females have this gland. Imbalances in this gland can result in symptoms described as male hot flashes. In my medical practice, I do treat men for resolving hormonal conditions that are often related to factors such as toxic stress, high female sex hormone levels in men and excess physical exertion without proper recovery.
- Q: Can menopause affect thyroid medication
- A: Yes, menopause can affect prescription medications in many patients because of the estrogen dominance patterns associated with perimenopause. While I can and do prescribe hormone medications where necessary, my treatment goal for patients is for them to regain a level of hormone health where medications are not necessary.
- Q: Can estrogen dominance cause depression?
- A: Yes, estrogen dominance can cause serotonin (the happy hormone) to drop off due to reduced bioavailability of 5HTC, a chemical precursor necessary for the body to produce serotonin. In this way, estradiol levels being too high cause more than low T3/T4 levels, it can also have a role in clinical and postpartum depression. Some patients experience this as a general decline in health and well-being.
Dr. Danielle Lockwood comments on hormone health
If you’re having problems with balancing your hormones, there is hope! Many of my patients saw dozens of specialists and doctors before seeing me and getting answers. No matter which doctor you choose, my wish is that all of my readers reclaim their best health so they can live their best lives.
Yours in health,
Low thyroid and estrogen dominance
In my practice, helping patients overcome problems related to estrogen dominance and thyroid is one of the areas that I truly enjoy. While there are times when I will prescribe medications such as hormones, I find it much more fulfilling to bring our bodies back into balance using more natural, sustainable methods. In those rare times when I do prescribe medications, I will either be replacing a previous prescription at a reduced dosage or it is a temporary measure as a last resort while we work to restore a more natural balance to the body.
The knee-jerk reaction from the medical community is to simply prescribe a drug to either boost or suppress our way back into endocrine balance. However, from my experience in clinical practice, I have had many excellent patient outcomes from using more gentle, natural methods to restore balance to the endocrine system. This holistic approach the other important hormones back into balance with the body’s natural rhythm.
-Dr. Danielle Lockwood
Naturally Balancing Thyroid
The endocrine system is what doctors call the body’s fascinating labyrinth of interlacing chemical pathways that regulate nearly every function in the body. Many women come to me with symptoms such as weight gain, brain fog, depression or peri-menopausal issues and often cite various “hormone imbalances” as the culprit. Unfortunately, when some doctors see one (overly-simple) lab test indicating imbalanced hormone balance involving estadiol or progesterone, the next step is a quick prescription and then walking out of the room. The knee-jerk reaction from the medical community is to simply prescribe a drug to either boost or suppress our way back into a healthy estrogen and thyroid balance. However, from my experience in clinical practice, I have had many excellent patient outcomes from using more gentle, natural methods to restore balance to the endocrine system. This holistic approach the other important hormones back into balance with the body’s natural rhythm. As we delve deeper into these issues, we begin to uncover some of the issues surrounding how female sex hormone affects hormone health and can lead to Hashimoto’s Disease.
In these days of a very well-educated public, you might have heard about the more common signs of endocrine problems such as hair loss or weight gain. However, more tricky signs such as anxiety, depression, irregular menstrual cycles, chronic constipation, blood-sugar imbalances, low libido, insomnia, fertility issues and even muscle pain/weakness may go overlooked. Furthermore, symptoms of early menopause and problems with estradiol or other hormone imbalances may point toward an underlying hormonal issue combined with a pattern of excessive female sex hormone. Resolving the deep intrigues of how hormone levels are balanced often plays a role in unraveling many serious health concerns. In this carefully balanced universe that is the endocrine system, what’s most concerning to me is that the basic medical tests for endocrine function won’t signal a problem until the issue is at a serious, even dangerous level. Also, common drugs such as birth control are designed to interfere with the body’s natural balance between estradiol and progesterone which can bring on a host of symptoms including reduced hormone levels. In summary, many patients will begin to exhibit the above-mentioned harmful symptoms long before basic lab tests will indicate a problem. And, just because a patient shows up with low hormone levels on a test doesn’t mean we as doctors should automatically start handing out prescriptions for Synthroid because the real problem could be estrogen dominance.
Now that we’ve blown the lid off the narrow understanding of these complex hormonal symptoms, let’s examine a few of the more mysterious symptoms in greater detail and find out why these issues occur.
Estrogen Dominance: Low Libido, Irregular Periods & Infertility
Most of these symptoms can be linked to something in the body called ‘estrogen dominance’. This is when the body makes too much of the major female sex hormone, which throws off the balance of other sex hormones such as progesterone and testosterone. As an aside, YES, healthy women do produce a small amount of testosterone just as healthy men produce small amount of female sex hormone. In cases of excessive estradiol in the body, women may exhibit menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, low libido and problems with fertility. Autoimmune disorders, accelerated aging, tender breasts and/or breast cancer, decreased libido, insomnia, hair loss, fatigue and brain fog are just a few of the symptoms that arise when there is too much of the major female sex hormone. Even some women as young as 30 years old have experienced menopausal symptoms when too much estradiol is present in the body. What’s very interesting about excess estradiol is its profound effects on reducing T3/T4 hormone levels in the body. Applying a one-size-fits-all cure and simply prescribing a women drugs like Levothyroxin or Synthroid will do nothing to correct the underlying issue of excessive estradiol levels that caused the low hormone levels in the first place.
Estrogen Dominance & Depression
Estrogen dominance forces the liver to produce more of a hormone called TBG, which acts like a sponge soaking up any T3/T4 it can find. In this way, the often undiagnosed problem of excess major female sex hormone leads to a huge drop in the amount of this crucial hormone available to be utilized by the body’s cells. There are a number of factors that can contribute to a pattern of excess estradiol such as after child birth, after menopause, in men and women who have excess belly fat, excess alcohol and caffeine consumption, and with women who have been taking birth control regularly for years. Furthermore, reduced levels of this vital hormone cause the body’s levels of serotonin (the happy hormone) to drop off due to reduced bio-availability of 5HTC, a chemical precursor necessary for the body to produce serotonin. In this way, too much of the major female sex hormone can contribute to low T3/T4 levels, clinical and postpartum depression and a general decline in health and well-being.
Terrain Wellness: Endocrine Balance
In my naturopathic medical practice, I see many cases where lowT3/T4 test results are actually the result of an excess estradiol pattern. In these cases, standard medical method of simply masking these deeper issues with artificial hormone sources does nothing to address the real problem of excess estradiol and leads to numerous health complications.
If you have hormonal issues or have concerns about your estradiol/female-sex-hormone levels please come and see me, Dr Danielle Smith Lockwood at our clinic, Terrain Wellness in Portland, Oregon. I (Dr Danielle Smith Lockwood) am a licensed primary care physician (Naturopathic Doctor) and I am also a licensed Acupuncturist trained in classical Chinese medicine. I can prescribe medications including those used to treat endocrine imbalances. Even when I do prescribe medications, my long term goal is for my patients to become healthy enough that medications become unnecessary. I prefer more gentle and natural ways to restore my patients to proper endocrine function. Call and set an appointment so I can help you with your hormonal balancing.