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Unopposed estrogen is an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in a woman's body. Both of these hormones are important in humans, and they both play dominant roles in the female body. Since both hormones have important roles to play, it is critical that they are present in balanced amounts. If estrogen is allowed to overbalance and there is no complementary progesterone or too little of it, a range of symptoms may develop. For example, estrogen dominance is associated with such symptoms as weight gain and heavy and painful periods; it may also contribute to difficulty sleeping, severe headaches, hot flashes, and imbalances of other hormones.
When a woman receives a diagnosis of unopposed estrogen, this means there is an imbalance of hormones inside her body. Estrogen is a sex hormone that works hand in hand with another sex hormone called progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone are important to female development, reproduction, and menstruation. They also play a role in immunity and have an effect on the balance of other hormones in the body. When unopposed estrogen is present in the body, this means there is not enough progesterone to keep the desired balance between the two hormones, or there is no progesterone at all.
A range of unpleasant symptoms may present in a case of this condition. For example, the condition may increase a woman’s desire to consume carbohydrates, which can cause her to overeat and gain weight. It may also make it difficult for a woman to achieve restful sleep and can contribute to the development of severe headaches. Unopposed estrogen often causes hot flashes as well, and increases a woman's risk of developing certain types of cancers, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis, a condition in which uterine-lining-type tissue develops outside a woman's uterus. Interestingly, an overbalance of estrogen even has the ability to adversely affect the immune system.
Many of the problems estrogen dominance causes are menstrual-cycle related. For example, one of the most common symptoms of unopposed estrogen is a very heavy period, which often includes noticeable blood clots. Severe menstrual cramping and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) may also result from unopposed estrogen. Sometimes women experience irregular vaginal bleeding when estrogen is unopposed by progesterone as well.
In most cases, unopposed estrogen can be treated with progesterone supplementation. This is often accomplished via oral medication. In some cases, however, a woman may instead use vaginal suppositories to supplement her progesterone.