Learn how fiber and pooping helps remove excess estrogen that may be causing increased period pain.
Understand estrogen dominance and the signs to pay attention to.
Discover ways to help keep you regular and your hormones in balance.
During our periods, our bodies go into estrogen production mode. Excess estrogen can lead to increased period pain and, in some extreme cases, be associated with endometriosis. Below we explore the realities of estrogen dominance and some ways we can alleviate its symptoms, including when we go number 2!
Estrogen dominance refers to either when there are “elevated levels of estrogen in the blood [or] estrogen levels may be normal and other hormones are below normal ranges; resulting in a dominance of estrogen in the body.” It can be caused by gut health issues, stress, or poor diet, among other things. And estrogen dominance can be responsible for symptoms like constipation, heavy or painful periods, and other symptoms that characterize endometriosis. Estrogen dominance is one of the main factors in increased period pain. When we’re backed up, we are unable to rid our bodies of the excess estrogen.
Some signs of estrogen dominance to look out for:
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Increased PMS symptoms
- Fatigue or trouble sleeping
- Decreased sex drive
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Anxiety or moodiness
Besides causing the symptoms we mentioned above, excess estrogen can also be a warning sign for breast cancer, since the disease relies on estrogen to grow.
Believe it or not, pooping can help.
Pooping helps our bodies get rid of more than just waste. Digestion is one of the major ways we get rid of estrogen. So keeping it regular --preventing symptoms like constipation and diarrhea--is very important, especially during the luteal phase (days 14-28) of our cycle when our bodies have increased levels of both progesterone and estrogen.
We know our poop is different during our periods. The hormonal changes we experience during our cycles affect things like our digestion and therefore our bowels. Estrogen has been shown to cause constipation, so if you are someone who experiences frequent backups, this may be why. It’s important we watch this, as chronic constipation can lead to hormone imbalance.
Estrogen dominance may be more concerning during perimenopause, or the time when we transition from the reproductive phase of our lives to menopause. Acupuncturist and herbalist Jill Blakeway says that “Women who have excess levels of estrogen in the run up to menopause can have an increased risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers, as well as of cervical dysplasia. They are also more likely to have intense and unpleasant menopausal symptoms.” Addressing excess estrogen becomes increasingly important at this time.
Changes in digestion and bowel routine happen again, when we reach menopause. During this phase, our estrogen levels drop and cortisol rises, which can slow down the digestive process and thereby cause constipation.