Stress, Weight and Oestrogen Dominance

Lockdown stress is blamed as women pile on the pounds – and oestrogen levels soar.


Bioidentical doctors have long made the link between stress and oestrogen dominance, and they are not alone.

An article in the Daily Mail reported that a survey had shown that people struggled to exercise during lockdown which also contributed to the weight problem.

Women have gained weight since the start of the pandemic – and their oestrogen levels have soared.

The findings support previous studies that show people struggled to exercise and eat a healthy diet during lockdown.

In use January 2020, the average body mass index of 80,000 female customers of the blood-testing firm Thriva was 27.1. BMI shows whether someone is a healthy size, based on their height and weight.

But in recent months, the average among 163,000 who gave details was 28.4. For women who are 5ft 3in, that corresponds to adding over half a stone – going from just under 11st to 11st 7lb.

Meanwhile, average oestrogen levels rose by roughly 50 per cent.

Dr Sumera Shahaney, head of clinical operations at Thriva who conducted the survey, said oestrogen can increase when women gain weight.

Why oestrogen, health risk and weight gain are linked

Very high oestrogen levels are linked to a greater risk of blood clots and stroke and varying oestrogen levels can affect mood. – which is also been an issue many women experienced during lockdown and weight gain contributes to feelings of anxiety and depression.

Dr Shahaney who conducted the research said: ‘What we’re seeing from customers is that over the last 12 months there has been a marked increase in stress and fatigue. We are also seeing a decrease in physical activity.’

What is oestrogen dominance?

The term oestrogen dominance is a term first used by the late Dr John Lee to refer to a state where oestrogen is not being balanced by progesterone in a woman’s body. This is a particular problem approaching and at the menopause, although it can occur at much younger ages.

Oestrogen is one of the two primary female hormones, the other being progesterone, and at menopause the ovaries cease production of oestrogen.

So that is when the body switches production of oestrogen to the fat cells in the abdomen, stomach and thighs – which is why many women see their belly increase at this time.

What is not so well known is that it is not necessarily high levels of oestrogen that can cause this imbalance, it is the relationship between the two primary hormones so if your oestrogen levels are low, but your progesterone levels are even lower you can still be oestrogen dominant.

Stress and weight gain and hormones

Stress will impact your health in so many ways, from your physical or emotional and mental well-being. Unfortunately for others stress can trigger unhealthy patterns such as overeating or choosing the sort of comfort foods that will add to our weight gain.

Eating during times of stress can help ease emotions whether that is grief, anger, loneliness or anxiety.  We feel we need the distraction of comfort food  when things aren’t going right, but because the effect is temporary, you may find yourself eating when you’re not hungry, or without thinking about it.

That can lead to unhealthy decisions so always be aware of what you’re eating and why you’re eating it, it’s about being present and mindful around your food choices.

 Stress and your hormones

Are you feeling more stressed and anxious than usual? Menopause symptoms are made worse by stress, and we all have times in our lives when stress is greater, whether that is due to the symptoms of menopause or something that is happening in our daily lives.

It is common to dismiss stress, but anyone who has suffered it and seen the effect on many bodily functions, including hormone balance, know it is all too real.

Stress puts our body into flight, fight or freeze mode so it goes first to deal with the most urgent symptoms, and to the body irrational moodiness or hot flushes are just not urgent – however much you might think so!

Hot flushes are symptoms made worse by stress which is why it is a good idea to increase your dosage of bioidentical progesterone cream if they are more severe than usual.

This is because stress leads to adrenal fatigue and some hormone disruption and the essential stress hormone cortisol is made from progesterone and you want to have good levels of it to stay in balance.

Helpful information: 

If you feel that oestrogen dominance could well be a factor in your weight gain, then the article below gives you some real help in having the right diet to deal with it.