Today’s episode will be all about my guest appearance on Jennifer Fugo’s skin show! I will be talking about the issues and impacts of hormones, especially estrogen. We will dive into the role that estrogen can play when it becomes out of balance with other hormones and how that can cause skin issues.
Table of Contents
About Lacey Dunn
Lacey Dunn is breaking the mold in the dietitian world as a fitness professional, bodybuilder, and registered dietitian. Her mission is to educate others on evidence-based nutrition by promoting a healthy sustainable lifestyle through flexible dieting. She believes that there’s no one size fits all approach. Lacey is also the owner of the thriving online coaching platform Uplift Fit Nutrition, as well as host and founder of the Uplift Fit Nutrition Radio.
Women have two primary sex hormones, which are called estrogen and progesterone. Both of these will fluctuate depending on what part of our menstrual cycle we are in. If you have a normal menstrual cycle, the first half of the cycle is the follicular phase; that is when we are going to have the dominance of estrogen. While the second half of our cycle (the luteal phase), progesterone is most likely going to dominate. There is supposed to be a balance between the two hormones – but for many women, over time levels of these hormones can vary and influence how you feel, cause certain symptoms, and influence how you act.
Estrogen dominance symptoms:
- Breast tenderness
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Heavy periods with cramps
- Mood swings
- Muscle and joint pains
- Digestive issues
- Thyroid issues
These symptoms sound a lot like hypothyroidism. This shows the importance of the ‘test, don’t guess’ motto! Testing your hormone levels can guide you towards what approach should be taken in order to heal.
Estrogen dominance can be either high estrogen OR normal estrogen with low progesterone… The balance between the two hormones is what matters here!
Knowing where you are in your menstrual cycle when you test your hormones is also important!
Estrogen dominance increases thyroid binding globulin, which binds thyroid hormone from being active. This is why many women who have estrogen dominance may also have hypothyroidism.
Buying and supplementing your own hormones will affect your whole HPA axis. You’re not only influencing your estrogen and progesterone, but you’re also influencing your DHEA and testosterone. You’re putting yourself at risk just for creating a thyroid or hormonal storm – when one hormone is off, it is likely that another hormone has also jumped ship. You really have to make sure that you’re working with a practitioner and going based off of your labs.
What’s really important with estrogen dominance is noting that simply having estrogen dominance does not necessarily mean that you need to use one of the key estrogen dominance supplementation strategies. We have different pathways of estrogen detoxification that are needed in order to process our estrogen in our bodies.
There are 3 phases of estrogen detoxification, and any one of these phases can have an issue that leads to estrogen dominance. So if you are doing your own research to find supplements to help with your estrogen dominance without knowing which phase is actually causing your issues, then you could actually be making the problem much worse by causing estrogen to recirculate and not complete its detoxification pathway.
This is complicated, and estrogen is important for your health and wellbeing. This is why it is so important to work with a credible practitioner.
Pooping out the estrogen
Fiber is our best friend when it comes to all hormones. We need fiber, enough bile acids, proper body levels of cholesterol in order to properly slow estrogen and get rid of it in our poop! Not pooping every single day and having constipation issues, bad digestion, low pancreatic enzymes, low bile acids… that is going to potentially lead to having high estrogen!
Getting women to poop the right way and having a happy poop life plays such an important role in regulating the hormones. And that doesn’t mean you have to take fiber supplements. You just go and eat your fruits, vegetables, and your prebiotics. Apples, avocados, nuts and seeds, leafy greens… it isn’t just about the fiber itself, it’s also about the food synergy to make sure you’re getting all of the micronutrients you need for your body.
Best Lab Tests
If you’re interested in testing, the first thing to do in order to save money is to ask yourself these questions to try to figure out what the root cause of your proportionately high estrogen is.
Could you have low progesterone? Could you have high cortisol (crazy life, lots of stress)? Could you be undereating? Could it be caused by a diet high in inflammatory foods or a general problem with your diet? Sometimes changing your diet before testing can work – eating mainly whole foods with lots of fruits and vegetables. Many times with lower progesterone, it could be due to high cortisol. Progesterone builds up your uterine lining, and is essential for a normal menstrual cycle. First thing you should always do is to try to reduce your stress levels and see if that has an impact.
If you want to go through your primary care provider to get tested in order to get it covered by your insurance, be sure to ask for estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA sulfate, a comprehensive metabolic panel, B12, vitamin D (often low), and a full thyroid panel.
If your doctor is not willing to order these tests, you can go through a direct to consumer lab like MyMedLab, Ulta Lab, or Direct Lab. You can also get bundles to make it cheaper. If you want to see your metabolic and detoxification pathways, the Dutch Test is the best option.
Keep in mind that where you are in your menstrual cycle can influence the hormone levels you see in lab results. It is important to base the time you take your lab test around your menstrual cycle – 5-7 days before your period begins – when estrogen and progesterone are normally at their mid-peak (if you have a normal cycle).
Testing when you have an irregular menstrual cycle
To figure out where you are in your cycle, you can go based off of symptoms that might still be occurring. Some women may still be experiencing cervical mucus, elevations in body temperature, and the cravings and bloating that come along with PMS. Tracking these symptoms can help you determine the best time to take your hormone tests.
Importance of cholesterol
Cholesterol is very important in our bodies. We need it in order to have our healthy hormone levels. They are the basis and foundation of sex hormones.
Now, are there some people that need to be wary of their cholesterol levels? Yes – these people probably have genetic cholesterol defects. But for the most part, people need dietary cholesterol. The body does also create its own cholesterol. And what people don’t know for many years is that your dietary cholesterol has little impact on your body cholesterol levels. If you’re not eating dietary cholesterol, your body is going to upregulate and create it for you anyway.
Foods that contain dietary cholesterol also usually have high levels of fat-soluble vitamins – eggs have high levels of choline. A lot of women with menstrual issues may have low choline, which is terrible if you are trying to get pregnant, because low choline can lead to congenital defects like cranial malformalities.
Don’t be afraid of cholesterol unless you already have high cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol – there is probably a reason for that… thyroid disorders can actually be the cause of this.
Hypothyroidism vs Hashimoto’s
I have made a free Master Guide to Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s which is all about providing you with the physiology of your thyroid, the potential root causes, what the differences are, and what are the key supplements that could help you or be detrimental.
It really gets into the nitty gritty and what’s most important with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. It can be just like estrogen dominance and present with skin issues. It is hard to know the truth from doing your own research on the internet. This document does all of the hard work for you with a compilation of research-based knowledge.
Be sure to check out Jennifer Fugo’s skin show: www.skinterrupt.com