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Oestrogen & Sympathetic Dominance In Women's Health

Oestrogen dominance is not a condition itself but rather an umbrella term used to describe an imbalance related to higher levels of oestrogen. Specifically, the amount of oestrogen in relation to other hormones: progesterone in women and testosterone in men. While both men and women produce oestrogen, it plays a bigger role in women’s body and serves as one of the main female sex hormones. Therefore, this blog post will mainly be discussing the effects of oestrogen dominance in women’s health.

What is oestrogen?

Oestrogen is a hormone produced by the endocrine system and moves through the bloodstream. In the female body it is primarily needed for: puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, bone strength and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. There are 3 types of oestrogen in women which are produced at different phases of a woman’s life:

  • Oestradiol (E2) – the most common type in women of childbearing age, produced mostly by the ovaries
  • Oestriol (E3) – the main oestrogen during pregnancy, produced mostly in the placenta
  • Oestrone (E1) – the only oestrogen after menopause that is produced by the adrenal glands and fatty tissue

What is oestrogen dominance and what are the signs?

In women, oestrogen dominance occurs when the ratio of progesterone to oestrogen falls out of its ideal balance. In a normal and healthy menstrual cycle, oestrogen is the dominant hormone leading up to ovulation for the first two weeks and is then balanced out by progesterone in the last two weeks. As for women who enter perimenopause and begin to experience anovulatory cycles (where no ovulation occurs), oestrogen can often go unopposed.

Common signs of oestrogen dominance:

  • Painful and/or heavy periods
  • Irregular period cycles
  • Mid-cycle spotting
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Infertility due to anovulatory cycles
  • Depression, anxiety or irritability
  • Weight gain (especially around the hips, thighs and abdomen)
  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Insomnia
  • Water retention and bloating
  • Thyroid imbalances
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Elevated blood pressure

Why does oestrogen dominance occur?

To better understand oestrogen dominance, it is firstly important to understand sympathetic dominance as it is one of the main causes. The autonomic nervous system is the nervous system that controls everything in the body automatically without conscious thought. It’s made up of two parts: sympathetic and parasympathetic. These nervous systems act as a see-saw like balance – when one is up the other is down.  The sympathetic nervous system activates the fight or flight response for safety and survival, and the parasympathetic nervous system restores the body to a state of rest, digest and repair.

Sympathetic dominance is a state where the sympathetic side of the autonomic nervous system is over dominant and controls the body’s immediate thoughts, actions and reactions, in other words. In other words, the body is in a fight or flight state and responds as if it’s running away from a lion. The image below explains the common neurological and physiological reactions.


Although it’s not every day we have a lion chasing us, whenever our body experiences any stressor, the same set of neurological and physiological reactions occur when we enter this fight or flight state which supresses the hormonal and reproductive systems.

It is long-standing sympathetic dominance that can result in adrenal fatigue and subsequent hormone imbalances. In fight or flight mode, as the reproductive system is suppressed, progesterone production is not a priority and can therefore result in deficient levels, subsequently causing oestrogen dominance.

Common symptoms and the physiological cause

Painful and heavy periods

The endometrial lining is stimulated to produce oestrogen. Therefore, when the body has higher levels of oestrogen, that lining becomes thicker resulting in periods becoming heavier and more painful.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

When the body is in a sympathetic state and in fight or flight mode to address the stress, falling pregnant is not a priority and therefore the reproductive system is suppressed, and eggs are not released. When the egg is not released, the ovary forms a cyst. The wall of the cyst generates high levels of oestrogen and testosterone, leading to polycystic ovarian syndrome.

What can you do about if you have oestrogen dominance?

As oestrogen dominance is a result of long-standing sympathetic dominance, it is vital to address sympathetic dominance.

  1. See a Chiropractor and have your spine and nervous system assessed for sympathetic dominance
  2. Take a Magnesium supplement as it supports adrenal function which supports greater hormone function
  3. Take a Withania supplement as it supports adrenals and relieves adrenal exhaustion
  4. Use a natural, USP certified, bio-identical progesterone cream
  5. Plan and prioritise time to wind down and practice breathwork and/or meditation
  6. Avoid using the following products that contain xenoestrogens:
    • Food or carbonated water stored in plastic containers or bottles that contain BPA 3 or 7
    • Foods containing pesticide and herbicide residue
    • Some skin creams, fake tanning lotions and moisturisersXenoestrogens are chemicals that mimic oestrogen and can artificially elevate your overall oestrogen levels.

If you feel as though stress or any of the above symptoms are affecting you, please book in to see chiropractor Dr Cindy Lam to discuss how we can help on 6299 2660


Dr. Cindy Lam Chiropractor

Dr. Cindy Lam

After suffering with low back pain related to her menstrual cycle as a teen, and finding incredible results and relief with Chiropractic care, Cindy knew by the age of 14 that she wanted to pursue Chiropractic to bring that same opportunity to you. Having studied at Macquarie University, she has graduated with a Bachelor of Chiropractic Science and a Master of Chiropractic.

Dr. Cindy is grateful to be surrounded by a wonderful and exceptional team, and to be working in her chosen profession. She loves seeing the changes in people’s health and quality of life because of their body’s innate ability to heal.

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