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Could Xenoestrogens be Causing my Low Libido, Weight Gain, and Hot Flashes?

Hormones play a huge and necessary role in our lives, but fluctuations can significantly impact our overall well-being. When you experience hormone imbalances, you may start to notice more brain fog or you're feeling tired all the time. Maybe your periods become heavier, or your libido is nonexistent. Many dismiss these symptoms as stress from increased demands from home or work life. But what may actually be happening is a condition called Estrogen Dominance, where there is an increase in the overall estrogen burden in the body. And it can happen in women (especially pre-, peri-, or menopausal) and men, and lead to a host of health issues.

In addition to brain fog, low libido, and menstrual changes, women with estrogen dominance can experience intense PMS, breast tenderness, and headaches before periods. Others may experience weight gain and hot flashes, belly fat, and difficulty losing weight. In men, estrogen dominance can cause enlarged breasts (gynecomastia), sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and infertility. Estrogen dominance is also thought to contribute to certain hormone-related illnesses, such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and even increased risks of breast, uterine, and prostate cancers.

xenoestrogens, estrogen dominance, and stress

What Causes Estrogen Dominance?

Lifestyle risk factors, including physical inactivity, poor diet, excess weight, and alcohol use, can all influence our estrogen burden, contributing to estrogen dominance. But perhaps the most important contributor is our exposure to xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are estrogen-mimicking compounds that disrupt hormone balance. They include phthalates in beauty and cleaning products, bisphenols in plastics, estrogens in birth control and hormone replacement medications, and forever chemicals such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).


PFASs are human-made substances that reside forever in our bodies and are found in everyday items, including food packaging, cleaning products, non-stick cookware, clothing, and cosmetics. They are found nearly everywhere in the environment, including the air, soil, drinking water, and 97% of North Americans.[1] When we are exposed, not only do they take up permanent residence, but they mimic our estrogen and disrupt hormonal equilibrium, contributing to estrogen dominance.[2],[3],[4] 

xenoestrogens are hidden in common household cleaners

Relieving the Burden

Our total estrogen burden includes endogenous estrogens (the stuff we make) and exogenous estrogens (the stuff we put in or on our bodies), which include xenoestrogens. When these compounds circulate in the bloodstream, they eventually reach the liver, where they are broken down into metabolites. The problem is that the liver can metabolize estrogens and xenoestrogens into different types of compounds– some that are protective and others that promote estrogen dominance. The good news is that we can support the liver’s ability to break down hormones and chemicals in a healthy way, reducing estrogen dominance and even our risk of breast cancer.

xenoestrogens and liver detoxification

In fact, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study involving 114 premenopausal women using a supplement containing a blend of micronutrients and herbal extracts called EstroSense, found that taking the supplement for three months led to markedly higher levels of the protective estrogen metabolite and lower levels of the more dangerous metabolite compared to the placebo.[5]


What You Can Do

Working with a qualified health care provider can help determine your estrogen load by looking at different lifestyle parameters. No one is too young to start limiting their exposure to estrogens, and both men and women can benefit from the following tips: 


  1. Maintain a healthy weight and engage in regular physical activity.

  2. Eat a well-balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, emphasizing the “rainbow” of fresh fruit and vegetables, including cruciferous vegetables, as well as whole grains, legumes, plant-based oils, and wild fish.

  3. Boost fibre intake to encourage the binding of excess estrogen in the digestive tract by eating more like flaxseeds, chia seeds, rice/oat bran, and nuts and seeds.

  4. Wash your fruits and veggies well to remove any herbicide and pesticide residues.

  5. Keep your alcohol intake to fewer than 1 drink daily or have none at all.

  6. Try to go plastic-free! Switch out your plastic containers for glass, and replace plastic wrap with beeswax options.

  7. Avoid conventional household cleaners and personal care products, such as shampoos, soaps, hairsprays, and cosmetics containing phthalates.

  8. Consider a supplement like EstroSense, containing indole-3-carbinol, calcium D-glucarate, and sulforaphane to improve estrogen metabolism, favouring the protective form of estrogen.

1) Lewis RC, Johns LE, & Meeker JD. Serum Biomarkers of Exposure to Perfluoroalkyl Substances in Relation to Serum Testosterone and Measures of Thyroid Function among Adults and Adolescents from NHANES 2011–2012. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015; 12(6):6098–6114.

2) Hunt PA, Sathyanarayana S, Fowler PA, et al. Female reproductive disorders, diseases, and costs of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in the European Union. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016; 101:1562-1570.

3) Caserta D, Maranghi L, Mantovani A, et al. Impact of endocrine disruptor chemicals in gynaecology. Hum Reprod Update. 2008; 14:59-72.

4) Gore AC, Chappell VA, Fenton SE, et al. EDC-2: the endocrine society’s second scientific statement on endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Endocr Rev. 2015; 36:E1-e150.

5) Green T, See J, Schauch M, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial to evaluate the effect of EstroSense® on 2-hydroxyestrone:16α-hydroxyestrone ratio in premenopausal women [published online ahead of print, 2022 Oct 6]. J Complement Integr Med. 2022; 10.1515/jcim-2022-0301.


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