Estrogen Dominance Causes Menstrual Cramps and Thyroid Receptor Desensitivity
by Elizabeth Smith, MD
Too Much Estrogen Interferes with Thyroid Hormone Sensitivity
American women and women in developed countries have too much estrogen. This estrogen excess, labeled estrogen dominance by John Lee, M.D., creates hypothyroid symptoms despite normal serum levels of thyroid hormone. Excess estrogen impedes the cellular utilization of thyroid hormone. Progesterone restores thyroid function in the body.
Progesterone Use Restores Thyroid Function for the Menstrual Cramp Patient
Thyroid hormone made by the thyroid
gland regulates the metabolic rate. Low thyroid tends to cause low energy levels, cold intolerance, and weight
gain with fat on the belly and hips. Body temperature is typically about 97F, not
98.6. So, in addition to Menstrual Cramps, the patient also has the consternation of the build up of
fat on the hips and belly despite dieting and excercise. The menstrual cramp patient usually has sugar
cravings. In contrast, excess thyroid causes higher energy levels, feeling too warm, and weight loss.
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone in two basic flavors T3 and T4. T3 is the more potent of the two. The thyroid gland is stimulated thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) produced by a small gland in the brain called the pituitary gland. This gland is stimulated in turn by thyrotropin-releasing hormone produced by the hypothalamus, another part of the brain.
Frequently, Dr. Lee, corrected symptoms of menstrual cramps and PMS in his patients by using natural progesterone cream. PMS symptoms caused by estrogen dominance included fat and water retention, breast swelling, headaches and loss of sex drive. He also found that they also had thyroid supplements prescribed based upon hypothyroid-like symptoms such as feeling tired or sluggish, a little cold intolerance, and thinning hair. However, laboratory measured thyroid levels T3 and T4 were normal, and TSH was only slightly elevated. After Dr. Lee corrected the PMS symptoms with progesterone, the patients with presumed hypothyroid symptoms became normal. Their hypothyroid symptoms that went along with menstrual cramps decreased or disappeared with Natural Progesterone use! Many times without any change of diet, fat on the belly and hips disappear in 2-6 months. Because the patient is not estrogen dominant anymore, sugar cravings disappear.
One woman patient that I had did not shave her underarms for 5 years. She had a low normal T3, T4 and TSH. After taking natural progesterone and avoiding heated plastics in her food for her menstrual cramps, she noted that the hair under her arms had begun to grow once more. She had to begin shaving her underarms again! Her hypothyroid symptoms, non growing hair under her arms, were due to estrogen dominance.
Confirming Clinical Hypothyroid (normal lab tests T3, T4, TSH, but feeling lousy) that goes with Menstrual Cramps
The most reliable way to confirm clinical hypothyroid is to measure the urine temperature for three consecutive days. Urinate in a Styrofoam cup for 3 consecutive days in the morning as soon as you get up. If you forget one day then don't worry just continue until you get 3 consecutive days. Measure the urine temperature with an ordinary health care thermometer. If the temperature is below 98.6 consistently, ( usually 97) then you most probably have clinical hypothyroid.
Why Do Hypothyroid Symptoms Disappear with Progesterone?
Dr. Lee reasons that thyroid and estrogen oppose each other. Estrogen causes food to be stored as fat. Thyroid hormone causes fat to be burned as energy. Patients with normal thyroid hormone levels measured by laboratory tests have symptoms that suggest they have hypothyroidism. When these same patients are given progesterone which is known to oppose estrogen their hypothyroid symptoms ceased. This implies that too much estrogen in the body, estrogen dominance, interferes with thyroid hormone action.
Menstrual cramps are caused by too much estrogen. Cutting down your intake of estrogen
and taking progesterone causes menstrual cramps to become normal in 2-3 months according to Dr. Lee. Because
estrogen dominance also interferes with thyroid hormone action, menstrual cramp patients are likely to have
symptoms of hypothyroidism and be on thyroid supplements even though measured T3 and T4 are normal.
After taking progesterone for several months, thyroid function becomes normal and thyroid supplements can be cut back and possibly eventually discontinued.