August 4, 2020
It all started to happen to me at the age of 51. I was warned, so I can’t say I didn’t know what to expect. The average age for menopause is 51. At first, I noticed that I was having trouble shedding pounds no matter how much I worked out, and then, I started having trouble sleeping. Being a women’s health physical therapist, I knew that these were both symptoms of menopause, so I decided to get my blood drawn.
First, I went to my PCP who recommended we check my cortisol levels. Not surprisingly, my numbers were off the chart. Isn’t that to be expected when you work full time, are a mom and are in the process of getting your doctorate? She recommended that I try and reduce stress and prescribed micronized progesterone to help me sleep, which made a difference. After starting the progesterone, I began to wonder about my hormones in general and had a blood test that showed that I was estrogen dominant.
I questioned, how could that be? If I’m in menopause and my ovaries are no longer producing estrogen, why are my numbers so high? Well, to understand, you need to know a little about estrogen. There are four naturally occurring estrogens, meaning we produce them in our bodies, estrone (E1), estradiol ( E2), estriol ( E3) and estetrol ( E4). Estradiol is produced by our ovaries and is the most potent, but with menopause, our ovaries stop its production, and our estradiol levels drop. After menopause, estrone becomes most dominant, for it is the only estrogen that the body continues to produce, and it is mainly produced in adipose or fat tissue.
Estrogen can also be produced outside of our bodies, of which there are three types. Phytoestrogens are found in plants that we often consume, such as soybeans and legumes. Synthetic estrogens are produced for medical purposes, such as contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Lastly, xenoestrogens come from the breakdown of products in our environment, such as plastics, electronics, medicines, foods, soaps, and pesticides. Xenoestrogens happen to be more potent than the estrogen that our bodies produce, which is not a good thing for they disrupt the natural processes in our bodies.
So, going back to my estrogen dominant blood test. How could that be? I’m in menopause, and my ovaries are no longer producing estradiol, but yet my blood test says that my estradiol levels are 265.3 pg/ml. At my age, they are considered normal when they are below 25.1 pg/ml. I had to determine from where was all this estrogen coming, and how was I going to lower it? That’s when the research started, and I put my plan into action.
Xenoestrogens mimic estrogen, and the biggest culprits are products that contain the following ingredients: Sodium Lauryl Sulfates (SLS) which are found in soaps and shampoos; all Parabens which are preservatives; Bisphenol (BPA) which leaches out of plastic water bottles when they sit in the sun, Propylene Glycol which is used as solvents in cleaners to dissolve grease; Phthalates which can be found in baby powder, lotions, and perfume; Petroleum which is known to impair cellular function; DEA (diethanolamine) and MEA (monoethanolamine) which are found in bath products and shaving products and can be toxic; Urea which is found in many skincare products, and Butyl or Ethyl Acetate which are both toxic and carcinogenic and found in many of the products that we use daily. There are many more to mention but ridding your house of these is a good start.
That is what I did. I threw away my dryer sheets, which I read were the biggest offender and went through every product that I use, and with a magnifying glass checked to see if any of my products contain any of the above ingredients. I discovered that almost every product I used had at least one of these ingredients. I was on a mission to replace absolutely everything. From my handsoap that I had placed at every sink in my home to my toothpaste, antiperspirant, skin cream, shampoo, dry shampoo, hair mouse, antiaging skincare products to my make-up. Items that had not been opened but could not be returned, I sold on eBay. Other stuff I gave away. It was shocking to see how everything I assumed was safe, was not. I also stopped eating edamame, and soy products as those are phytoestrogen and though not as harmful, could still contribute to my estrogen dominance.
The next challenge came in replacing all the products with healthier, safer products that said “paraben-free” and “phthalate-free” and so on. I spent hours researching both online and in the stores. Don’t forget; I had a lot of products to replace. It has been a process, and I’m glad to say that I was able to replace everything and even have some new favorites like Tom’s of Maine Coconut Lavender antiperspirant and EOS Shea Better Shave Cream in vanilla bliss. I wish I knew about these long ago!
I made a few other changes that I read would help, including eating more cruciferous vegetables and fermented foods and discovered Bubbies pickles, which are the best! And my doctor recommended that I take a supplement called DIM, which acts as an antiestrogen in the body.
So the next question is, did this whole lifestyle change work? My initial blood test was done on March 12, 2020, and I repeated it on June 29, 2020. Drum roll, please. It went down from 265.3 pg/ml to 49.7 pg/ml. I did it!
For more information on other products that I’ve tried, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.