Does Your Gut Health Affect Fertility?
You have likely heard the term “microbiome,” which describes the variety of bacterial species in your gut. Let’s add an additional layer of detail – some of those bacteria have special capabilities. In fact, some bacteria in the gut are capable of metabolizing estrogen, the major female sex hormone. These gut bacteria are collectively known as THE ESTROBOLOME.
The estrobolome is super important, and even considered one of the main ways our body keeps our estrogen levels balanced. Here’s how it works:
1st – Bacteria in the gut produce an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase.
2nd – This enzyme converts less active forms of estrogen (bound to an acid) into the more active form (not attached to an acid – this estrogen is free).
3rd – Free estrogen binds estrogen receptors on tissues.
4th – Estrogen has an effect in the body.
In a perfect world, the gut is colonized with a diverse variety of bacteria. When that composition becomes unbalanced, it is called “dysbiosis.” When dysbiosis is present, the level of beta-glucuronidase can be too high or too low, which means the concentration of active estrogen is also altered.
One common issue that occurs in the setting of dysbiosis is ESTROGEN DOMINANCE. This can happen when there are too many bacteria that produce beta-glucuronidase, allowing too much free estrogen into circulation. Excessive estrogen is associated with several conditions related to fertility trouble, including uterine fibroids, endometriosis, a lack of ovulation/PCOS, and even breast cancer.
We can measure beta-glucuronidase levels as part of comprehensive stool testing, giving us insight into how your gut bacteria are contributing to your hormonal status. If we find levels are elevated and you’re having symptoms of estrogen problems, there are a number of dietary, botanical, and nutraceutical interventions we can bring on board as part of a personalized treatment plan.