37-year-old Vineeta Bansal is happily plump. She has been diagnosed with polycystic ovary disease and her doctor has ordered her weight loss for conception.  Bansal has started to workout regularly and counts her calories, still, weight loss seems far beyond.  What could be the reason wonders Bansal?

She is not alone. Millions of women like her suffer from estrogen dominance, a condition where estrogen hormone dominates the hormonal cycle without the counterbalancing effect of progesterone.

Estrogen and progesterone are two primary sex hormones in a woman which the ovary releases during the menstrual cycle.

When one peaks the other falls down and maintains the balance. Prior to ovulation (release of an egg) estrogen rises and stimulates the growth of uterine. Post ovulation progesterone hormone peaks and prepares the body to receive the fertilized egg.

However, if the egg remains unfertilized, both the hormones drop and the period starts.

Estrogen versus Progesterone

Estrogen is a growth hormone and progesterone is its antagonist.

Estrogen Progesterone
Enhances salt and water retention leading to bloating It is a natural diuretic and flushes the body waste
Increases body fat Helps use fat for energy
Increases blood clot risk Normalises blood clot
Stimulates breast cyst Protects against breast cyst

As long as, both the hormones are in sync and progesterone counters the growth effect of estrogen, there will be optimum vitality and well being. However, the problem begins when progesterone continues to drop at a faster pace than estrogen leading to an imbalance.

Between 35 to 50, progesterone drops by 75 percent, but estrogen falls by only 35 percent. Around menopause, progesterone reaches an all-time low. But, estrogen is still around half of the pre-menopausal level.


Estrogen dominance creates a situation where the lack of progesterone removes the counterbalancing effect of progesterone. So, the woman may be secreting less estrogen; still, she would be estrogen dominant.  And this affects their reproductive health in a significant manner.

The effects of estrogen dominance show in a dramatic increase in hormonal disorders in women. The dropping age of puberty and rising instances of premenstrual syndrome,  breast cancer, Polycystic Ovarian Disease, infertility, and polyps are intimately linked to estrogen dominance. Low progesterone makes you more anxious. It causes thyroid concerns and foggy memory.

A woman suffering from estrogen dominance may feel any or all of the symptoms

  • Swollen breasts and fingers
  • Shoes not fitting in
  • Getting impatient quickly
  • Irregular periods
  • Painful cramps prior to periods
  • Clots in menstrual blood
  • Fibroid-like growth
  • Diminished energy
  • Bloating
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Hard cystic acne on jawline


Estrogen dominance is a reflection of our changing lifestyle in the last 100 years. The age of menarche has gone down and women undergo fewer pregnancies as compared to 100 years earlier. Naturally, they are having more period cycles and it is exposing them to increased estrogen.

  1. Moreover, our diets have changed altogether. Junk food has replaced healthier eating behaviors. The higher is the fat intake, higher is the fat’s conversion to estrogen. Also,  fruits and vegetables are laced with pesticides (synthetic estrogens).
  2. We are surrounded by synthetic estrogens. Petrochemical compounds found in general consumer products like creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes, hair sprays and room deodorizers. Such compounds often have chemical structures similar to estrogen and indeed act like estrogen.
  3. Commercially raised animals are fed estrogen-like hormones and they pass the food chain and reach us.
  4. Oral contraceptives and estrogen replacement therapy are more obvious reasons for estrogen dominance
  5. A deficiency of vitamin B6 and magnesium reduces the body’s ability to neutralize excess estrogen in the liver.
  6. Caffeine addiction is causing estrogen dominance. Studies have shown that women who drank four or five cups of coffee, had nearly 70 percent more estrogen during the early follicular phase than women who had just one cup of coffee.

How to control estrogen dominance?

Well, it starts with our lifestyle. Food certainly has a big role to play.

  1. Increase your consumption of fiber to flush out excess estrogen, so that it doesn’t get reabsorbed in the body. Fiber-rich foods like oats, fruits, and vegetables will keep your bowels clean and reduce estrogen reabsorption.
  2. Your liver stores excess estrogen and toxins. You should try to eat sulfur-rich foods, like onions, garlic, and egg yolks to detoxify your liver.
  3. Stay lean because fat cells naturally produce harmful estrogen.  Any workout that will keep you lean will also help rebalance estrogen levels.
  4. Eat organically grown produce.
  5. Drink filtered water
  6. Learn to manage stress to rebalance ratios in favor of progesterone.

In the recent past, estrogen has been stealing the limelight.  Progesterone has remained out of focus. This explains why hormonal disorders have peaked in women in the last 30 years. Managing estrogen dominance holds the key to controlling the rising instances of breast cancer and polycystic ovarian disease – the leading cause of infertility and it starts with mending the lifestyle.