Side effects from estradiol can be annoying but are controllable if you understand how your hormones work.
Anytime you take exogenous hormones – meaning not what your body naturally makes, but hormones you take – you may experience some side effects. And that’s true of all hormones. Synthetic estradiol is the estrogen used in hormonal forms of birth control and hormone replacement therapy.
Even your own endogenous estradiol, that which your body naturally makes, can cause side effects. Especially if it’s out of balance with your progesterone. Remember estrogen is the fertilizer growing lush healthy tissue. Progesterone is the gardener – turning off estrogens growth unwanted promoting effects – like tumors.
When you’re taking the birth control pill, you are not getting real progesterone. You’re taking a synthetic progestin which is derived from testosterone.
There are six main side effects of estradiol:
1. Dark Spots
Too much estradiol can cause dark spots on your face called melasma. Estrogen stimulates melanin production which gives color to your skin. Melasma is a common side effect of birth control pills. And can occur in pregnancy because of the naturally high estrogen levels. Stopping estrogen will help reduce further darkening of your skin. But, it will take a couple of months to lighten. You may need to use topical lightening agents like hydroquinolone to further reduce dark splotches caused by estradiol.
2. Water Retention
Estrogen helps keep your cells and tissues well hydrated. But too much estrogen can cause water retention which makes you feel uncomfortably bloated. Some women prior to their periods will gain 5-10 pounds in water weight due to the imbalance of estradiol and progesterone. Perimenopausal and menopausal women can be sensitive to water retention too. Especially if they retained water easily in their youth. Lowering estradiol dose can help. Natural diuretics like uva ursi can also help reduce water retention.
3. Breast Pain
Too much estradiol can cause breast pain and swelling. Normal monthly estrogen surges stimulate breast tissue to prepare for pregnancy and lactation. If you’re taking too much estradiol, it can aggravate preexisting fibrocystic breast condition and enlarge existing cysts. Reducing estradiol can help. So can DIM – a supplement derived from cruciferous vegetables that can help your body metabolize estrogen into less inflammatory forms.
4. Uterine Bleeding
Another estradiol side effect from too much is uterine bleeding. Including more clots. Too much estrogen can stimulate uterine fibroid growth which contributes to heavy periods. Again reducing estradiol can help. But whta’s more effective is to be sure you’re taking an adequate amount of progesterone to counterbalance estrogen.
While estrogen stimulates your brain helping you be creative, learn and remember, too much can contribute to anxiety. If you’re not making enough progesterone to make calming GABA – estrogen can overstimulate you. You can learn how to make your own GABA with my CALM meditation. Which you can access by signing up for our Hormone Reboot Training.
6. Blood Clots
The most dangerous side effect of taking too much estradiol is blood clots. Oral estradiol can increase the risk of blood clots. In fact, taking any steroid hormone by mouth – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA or cortisol – can increase your risk of blood clots. That’s because oral steroid hormones interfere with your liver’s clotting cascade. Dangerous blood clots in your legs called venous thrombosis can break off and get in your lungs causing a life threatening pulmonary embolism, or in your coronary arteries causing a heart attack. Or even in your brain causing a stroke.
If you have a family history of blood clots and especially if you’ve ever had a blood clot, then you are not a candidate for oral estrogen therapy especially in birth control. Talk to your health care provider to see if you might use estrogen transdermally or intravaginally.
You’ll learn more about how to support your hypothalamus naturally in our Hormone Reboot Training – where you’ll also learn about how to balance all your hormones naturally. Estrogen side effects are something we talk about a lot in my Hormone Support Group, which is FREE to join by the way when you sign up for our Hormone Reboot Training.