7 Ways To Keep Your Estrogen Balanced
Bodies can be unpredictable, and we may not even realize how much imbalanced hormones can impact our health. Since estrogen especially can affect so many aspects of your wellbeing, it's important to know how to keep your estrogen balanced. Everything you do — from what you eat to what products you use — can have an impact on your hormones, so to keep your body functioning smoothly, it's important to pay attention to your everyday habits.
"Estrogen is one of the many hormones that fluctuates throughout a woman's cycle," holistic fertility specialist Dr. Aumatma Shah, tells Bustle. "Estrogen is essential for sexual and reproductive functions in the female body. Estrogen is responsible for signaling the healthy development of an egg that gets released each month to potentially fertilize. In addition, estrogen helps keep the vagina [lubricated]. Low levels of estrogen can cause painful sex, increased UTIs, mood swings, headaches and irregular/absent periods. High levels of estrogen can increase the risk of blood clots, thyroid dysfunction, and even cancer."
In order to keep your health in check, you'll want to make sure your hormones are as balanced as possible, and there are ways to do this naturally. Here are seven ways to keep your estrogen levels balanced, according to experts.
1. Reduce Your Stress
Just as stress is bad for your mental health, it can also be very detrimental to your physical health as well. "The body will naturally not ovulate in times of extreme stress," Yvonne Bohn, MD, OB/GYN, tells Bustle. "This leads to too much estrogen and no progesterone, which leads to lack of menses, infertility and abnormal bleeding." Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol robs the body of progesterone, which is needed to keep estrogen balanced.
2. Make Healthy Food Choices
"Diet is key to keeping hormone levels balanced," OB/GYN Tami M. Prince, MD, tells Bustle. "Vitamins such as Vitamin B6 and magnesium, as well as other nutrients, can promote breakdown and elimination of estrogen in order to maintain proper balance." Opt for whole foods such as vegetables, nuts, grains, fruits, and seeds, which can help keep your estrogen levels stable.
3. Opt For Hormone-Free Meats
If you're a big meat eater and aren't checking your labels, you might be messing with your hormones without even realizing it. "It's essential to eat organic, hormone-free meats," says Dr. Shah. "Unless specifically labelled, meat is laden with hormones that manipulate the finely-tuned hormone balance in our bodies."
4. Exercise Cyclically
"Maximizing your hormonal health means modifying your workout routine to fit each unique phase of your cycle," functional nutritionist and hormone expert Alisa Vitti, HHC, AADP, tells Bustle. "It’s the opposite of always trying to workout harder and faster. It means really paying attention to your body and your cycle and matching your movement to your unique hormonal needs. Different types of movement, and different intensity levels, are appropriate for the different phases of your cycle." For example, during your premenstrual phase, you'll want to do more low-impact exercises. When you're ovulating, it makes sense to go more all out.
5. Avoid Certain Beauty Products
The types of products you use can also mess up your hormone balance. "Choose skin care and makeup that is free of estrogen-mimickers such as phthalates, parabens, and petrochemicals," Dr. Shah says. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors, which means they can mimic hormones and mess with the function of your endocrine system and alter your hormone levels.
6. Avoid Certain Plastics
Like beauty products, exposure to certain plastics can also have an impact on your hormones. Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, can mimic estrogen. "Plastic bottles and containers, the lining of canned foods, and toxic skin care products all contain BPA," Dr. Shah says. Look for BPA-free products when buying items like containers or water bottles, or if possible, opt for glass alternatives.
7. Drink Less Alcohol
Cutting down on alcohol can help strengthen your liver, which in turn can help your hormones. "A healthy liver maintains estrogen balance by breaking down estrogen for elimination from the body," says Dr. Prince "Any medical conditions which impairs the liver, such as alcoholism, drug use/abuse, and fatty liver disease, interferes with estrogen breakdown, and thus leads to excess estrogen. Maintaining a healthy diet and decreasing alcohol intake can promote a healthy liver."
Your estrogen levels can fluctuate for many reasons, but follow these lifestyle habits, and you can help keep the hormone balanced.