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7 Ways Xenoestrogens and Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals’ Impact Your Menopause

xenoestrogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals in menopause

Why do xenoestrogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals impact menopause?

And what the heck are they anyway?

We’re so glad you asked.

It’s no secret we live in a toxic world. Indeed, we’re exposed to a multitude of chemicals every day in everything from our food to our personal care.

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC’s)

Many toxins are found in our environment and food(1). What’s more, our personal care and cleaning products are also laden with them. Known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals they play havoc with our hormones. And this is the last thing we want as we go through the massive natural fluctuations of perimenopause and, just as importantly, as we transition through into post-menopause.

Xenoestrogens

xenoestrogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals in menopause
Photo from Pexels

A lot of beauty and personal

care products contain a sub-category of these endocrine disruptors known as xenoestrogens. And xenoestrogens mimic the actions of the hormone estrogen and bind to our estrogen receptors. Furthermore, they may contribute to estrogen dominance and exacerbate menopausal symptoms.

Some common xenoestrogens include BPA which is found in plastic containers and canned foods, and phthalates, which are widely used in skincare and fragrances.

So, let’s take a look at:

7 ways Xenoestrogens & Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals impact your menopause

Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life when your reproductive hormones decline, leading to various physical and emotional changes. However, recent studies(2)(3) have highlighted the impact of xenoestrogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on menopause, potentially exacerbating symptoms and disrupting hormonal balance. In this article, we will explore seven ways in which xenoestrogens and EDCs can affect your menopause journey.

xenoestrogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals in menopause
Photo by Karolina Grabowski from Pexels

1. Hormonal imbalance

Xenoestrogens and EDCs are synthetic compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. These substances can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance during peri/menopause, leading to irregularities in menstrual cycles and exacerbation of symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats.

2. Slowed estrogen decline

Xenoestrogens found in certain plastics, pesticides, and personal care products can interfere with the natural decline of estrogen levels during menopause. In addition, they can disrupt the liver’s natural hormonal detoxification. This interference can prolong the duration of menopausal symptoms and delay the transition to post-menopause.

3. Increased hot flushes

Hot flushes are a common symptom of menopause, but exposure to xenoestrogens and EDCs may intensify their frequency and severity. These compounds disrupt the hypothalamus, which regulates body temperature, leading to more frequent and intense hot flushes.

4. Bone health

Estrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining bone density, and its decline during menopause increases the risk of osteoporosis. Xenoestrogens and EDCs can further compromise bone health by interfering with the body’s natural bone-building process, potentially accelerating bone loss.

5. Mood swings and depression

Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can contribute to mood swings and feelings of depression. Xenoestrogens and EDCs can exacerbate these symptoms by disrupting the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, impacting mood regulation.

6. Weight management challenges

Many women experience weight gain or changes in body composition during menopause. Xenoestrogens and EDCs can disrupt the metabolism and promote fat accumulation, making it more challenging to manage weight during this life stage.

7. Increased breast cancer risk

Research(4) suggests a potential link between xenoestrogens and EDCs and an increased risk of breast cancer. These synthetic compounds can stimulate abnormal cell growth and interfere with the body’s natural defense mechanisms against cancer.

Conclusion

As you navigate sometimes murky waters, it’s crucial to be aware of xenoestrogens and EDCs impact on your menopause journey.

And their potential influence on your hormonal balance and overall wellbeing.

Taking proactive steps to minimise exposure to these substances may help alleviate menopausal symptoms and reduce potential long-term health risks.

Making informed lifestyle choices and opting for natural alternatives when possible can empower you to manage your menopause transition with greater control and confidence.

We hope this was helpful. For more peri, post-menopause and midlife info please don’t hesitate to visit our library here.

Related Women On Fire podcast: Exploring The Impact of EDC’s and Xenoestrogens on Menopause. Listen here or watch here.

References:

  1. Rashid H, Alqahtani SS, Alshahrani S. Diet: A Source of Endocrine Disruptors. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2020;20(5):633-645. doi: 10.2174/1871530319666191022100141. PMID: 31642798.
  2. Reddy V, McCarthy M, Raval AP. Xenoestrogens impact brain estrogen receptor signaling during the female lifespan: A precursor to neurological disease? Neurobiol Dis. 2022 Feb;163:105596. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2021.105596. Epub 2021 Dec 20. PMID: 34942334.
  3. Sone H. [Endocrine disrupter and reproductive disorders in women]. Nihon Rinsho. 2000 Dec;58(12):2521-6. Japanese. PMID: 11187748.
  4. Liu R, Nelson DO, Hurley S, Hertz A, Reynolds P. Residential exposure to estrogen disrupting hazardous air pollutants and breast cancer risk: the California Teachers Study. Epidemiology. 2015 May;26(3):365-73. doi: 10.1097/EDE.000000000000027. PMID: 25760782; PMCID: PMC51010453 

Main image by Kristina Poliankaia from Pexels

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Post-menopause


This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.

Perimenopause

Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.