I've documented my problems with progesterone and, unless you skip those blog posts or your eyes simply glaze over, you're aware that I've had some hormonal difficulties. Progesterone is but one hormone that rises and falls throughout the month and I began thinking about that other hormone that rules the menstrual cycle: estrogen. Specifically, I began to question whether my estrogen levels were balanced.
What do you think I discovered? I think that I not only have had low progesterone levels, but I think my estrogen levels were too high. Estrogen dominance can occur no matter what your estrogen levels may be if you're low on progesterone. I may have been suffering from estrogen dominance for a long time.
What are the symptoms of estrogen dominance? Irregular menstrual cycles, heavy bleeding, infertility, irritability, mood swings, fatigue, headaches, and the list goes on. Yep, sounds like me!
Adding to the hormonal havoc is that there are chemicals in certain foods that mimic estrogen in the body. These compounds are called phytoestrogens. Naturally, some of my favorite foods contain phytoestrogens!
Indeed, over 300 foods have been identified as having phytoestrogens. Lignans and isoflavones are probably the most well known classes of phytoestrogens and, courtesy of my love of flax and soy, I have had a daily (or almost daily) dose of those two for MANY, MANY YEARS! Why am I yelling about this? Because studies have indicated that animals who consume diets high in phytoestrogens have documented reproductive problems!!!
I'm not saying that my diet was the reason that I found conception so difficult. I'm also not saying that it wasn't a factor. Combined with the low progesterone levels, I think it definitely could have had a negative impact on my pregnancy quest. Note that I'm not saying that diet causes fertility difficulties because a correlation does not equal causation. I'm just saying that it's a fascinating coincidence that I consumed a diet high in phytoestrogens and I have had a difficult time conceiving and carrying children even though I was well younger than my mid-30s.
Although I'm currently pregnant, I'm avoiding foods that are high in phytoestrogens. Forgoing my daily doses of flaxseed oil isn't so difficult, but I know that I'm going to have some real difficulty when the heat is on and cold tofu with soy sauce, green onions, & ginger is all that sounds good to eat. My AC kicked on about twenty minutes ago so I suppose the heat is on right now!
Hm, looks like a lot of frozen yogurt might be in my future! Bummer. ;-)