Too much or not enough estrogen?
Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Though more active as a female hormone, estrogen is found in both men and women and relates to mood, weight, cognitive function, cardiovascular health, sexual function and development. Most notably the fluctuations in estrogen and it's interplay with progesterone regulate the menstrual cycle, and it's decline signifies menopause.
There are optimal levels of estrogen and unwanted symptoms will arise when levels are out of balance.
The notion of yin and yang is a centerpiece of Chinese Medicine and its interactions affect our bodies. As one energy changes, the other will adjust. Yin and yang need to be balanced just as hormones need to be.
In Chinese Medicine the Kidney system is the root of all yin in the body. Yin provides cooling and moistening functions. When yin fluids are balanced, skin is smooth, joints are properly lubricated, energy is better, and our mind is calmer.
Estrogen is thought of as a female hormone and related to yin, whereas progesterone and testosterone is male and related to yang.
Estrogen levels naturally fluctuate over time and will be low prior to puberty and decline during perimenopause. More acutely, estrogen levels change throughout the menstrual cycle, peaking in the first half. It is possible to have low estrogen related to risk factors such as extreme exercise or dieting, thyroid or pituitary gland problems, or autoimmune illnesses.
Signs of low estrogen:
Hot flashes, night sweats
Vaginal dryness, low libido
Chinese Medicine Perspective:
Reproductive health is closely tied to the kidney organ system which stores the bodies energy reserves and governs growth, development, and reproduction. The Kidneys produce yin and yang energies.
Yin has cooling, moistening, and calming functions and is related to estrogen. When yin is depleted symptoms that are hot and dry arise. Other symptoms can include restless sleep, night sweats, and palpitations.
Too much estrogen
Excess levels of estrogen (called estrogen dominance) can occur when women move toward perimenopause. In actuality the same levels of estrogen are produced but are out of proportion to diminishing levels of progesterone. Aside from increasing the severity of menopausal symptoms, excess estrogen levels are risk factors for breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers, fibroids, ovarian cysts.
Signs of estrogen dominance:
Increased PMS symptoms (breast tenderness, acne flare ups, headaches)
Irregular cycles or heavy and painful periods
Women and Men
Fatigue, brain fog, low libido
Slow metabolism, water retention, hard to fall asleep
Mood swings, irritability, insomnia, anxiety
Chinese Medicine Perspective
In the case where there is not enough yin (or estrogen) conditions that are hot and dry will arise. Since yin is cooling and moistening, too much of it creates symptoms that are cold and wet, or what is referred to as damp in Chinese Medicine. Dampness occurs when digestion fails to transform food and water into usable nutrients for our body. When fluids are not getting metabolized there is a buildup of moisture where there shouldn't be.
How acupuncture can help?
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to support the development, reproductive, and aging process. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine offer a non-invasive approach to hormone regulation.