How Phytoestrogens Can Lower Estrogen and Lighten Periods

Phytoestrogens are a special group of phytonutrients that occur naturally in most plant foods. The two major classes are isoflavones in soy, and lignans in seeds, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.

They’re called phytoestrogens because they interact with estrogen receptors but they’re not estrogen. In fact, they bind so weakly to estrogen receptors that they effectively block estradiol and are therefore better categorized as anti-estrogen.

For example, it’s long been observed that phytoestrogen crops such as red clover suppress the estrogen and fertility of livestock. It’s even been proposed that plants evolved phytoestrogens to reduce the fertility of female herbivores and prevent overgrazing.

In a chapter called “Agriculture and Selection for High Levels of Estrogen,” evolutionary biologist Grazyna Jasienska makes the case that ancient humans evolved higher levels of estrogen as a way to adapt to the anti-estrogen effect of agriculture (ie. adapt to phytoestrogen-rich plant food). It could thus be said that women with agrarian ancestors are hormonally calibrated to a relatively high intake of phytoestrogens to shelter us from our own high estrogen.

In other words, it’s fine to eat phytoestrogens like legumes and seeds because they’re part of our traditional diet and our hormonal system is adapted to them.

How phytoestrogens can benefit women’s health and hormones

For women of reproductive age, phytoestrogens have a beneficial anti-estrogen effect and help to promote the healthy metabolism or detoxification of estrogen. Food-based phytoestrogens may even reduce the risk of some hormone-sensitive cancers.

Heavy periods. In general, phytoestrogens make periods lighter but very high doses can cause heavier periods if they suppress ovulation and progesterone. That’s why (in part) a vegan or exclusively plant-based diet can cause period problems.

Endometriosis. Phytoestrogens are generally beneficial for endometriosis but soy, in particular, appears to worsen endometriosis in some women. That may be the result of an adverse immune reaction. Read Immune treatment for endometriosis.

PCOS. By improving insulin sensitivity phytoestrogens can have a beneficial effect on polycystic ovary syndrome.

Hypothalamic amenorrhea. Phytoestrogens cannot correct the estrogen deficiency of hypothalamic amenorrhea. The treatment for hypothalamic amenorrhea is to promote ovulation by eating more. Read How to increase estrogen.

Menopause. During menopause, when estrogen is low, phytoestrogens can have a mild pro-estrogen effect, which has led to the investigation of soy as an alternative to menopausal hormone therapy. Unfortunately, several large research studies have concluded that soy isoflavones don’t do much, if anything, for menopausal symptoms.

Thyroid disease. Concentrated extracts of soy isoflavones may suppress thyroid function. Food-based soy is probably fine as long as you also consume enough iodine.

In conclusion, phytoestrogens generally have a beneficial anti-estrogen effect in women of reproductive age. They have a mild pro-estrogen effect in menopausal women, which may be beneficial, and a pro-estrogen effect in men and children, which may be detrimental at a high dose.

70 thoughts on “How Phytoestrogens Can Lower Estrogen and Lighten Periods”

  1. Hi I just feel so confused about the whole phytoestrogen thing. There is so much contradiction out there. I was advised my a health practitioner to takes flaxseed be oil, or fibromyalgia and gut health. I started to take it and researched it. I have family history big hormonal related cancer and my sister died of breast cancer two years ago. Lots of site say it reduce risk others say it increase it. Also I have seen video in youtube saying that it increase breast size which I don’t want and feel like has happened and others saying it shouldn’t do that it should decrease, so I am really confused. Please tell me what I need to do here?

  2. Is there anything you can suggest for perimenopausal anxiety/panic? It feels very much like a physical cause, not mental, so CBT and standard talk therapy does little. I feel at a loss.

  3. Hi Lara, thanks for all you do!

    Three years ago I recovered weight to BMI 24 after having anorexia for a few years. My BMI has remained at this level but I did not gain my period back until last year where, due to your book/blog (thanks!), I went on utrogestan and estradot for 3 months and gained it back naturally (without use of bioidentical hormones). However, my estradiol level is currently <50 pmol/L and LH:<0.2 U/L, FSH 2.0 U/L. For the last 2 years I have had severe daily headaches and chronic fatigue symptoms (extreme head pressure after walking, somedays housebound) and am thinking this is very likely hormone related.

    I have just started on Maca but am wondering if it would be better to go back on bioidentical hormones?

    Thanks so much 🙂

  4. Hello and congratulations for yous books! I am 37 (born 1984) and I have 3 kids. I have Hashimoto but my TSH is normal, under 2,5 mIU/L. My period changed after my second child (when i was 33). Since then is heavy with clots and us a result i became anemic. Also the cycle is shorter, about 26 days and i have night sweats the days before period. My gynecologist suggested Mirena and my endocrinologist suggested utrogestan. I tried utrogestan for 3 cycles from 16th day until period but i didnt see much difference. My mother and grandmother had early menopause before 40. My FSH levels was 17 in one cycle and 7.7 in another cycle. I read in your books about curcumin, magnesium, B6, iodin, DIM, vitex, calcium d glucarate but i dont know which of them i can try.

  5. Hi Dr Lara,

    I’ve read your book cover to cover & found it very insightful – I reference it often as well as your blog posts here. Despite all the valuable information you provide I’m still confused & in need of help. First a little background. I was prescribed the oral contraceptive pill aged 14/15 for acne & I kept taking it for many years (Diane, Dianette, Yaz, Yasmin et al & most recently Aranka which gave such awful side effects it prompted me to stop, age 37.) I only stopped taking the pill for any significant length of time twice, in 2015 for blood tests & a pelvic scan which diagnosed me with PCOS (LH 14 U/L, FHS 5.8 U/L, bulky multi-follicular ovaries, irregular menses.) Followed by a second break in 2016 when I immediately fell pregnant upon stopping, had a miscarriage at 10 weeks, and immediately fell pregnant again without ever having had a real period.

    In July 2020 I decided to stop taking Aranka because I eventually linked it to many negative experiences I was having; frequent migraines, upset stomach, vaginal discomfort / itching / BV, low libido to name a few. After six months I was able to get my blood tested with the following summarised results (translated)

    HEMOGRAM (Spectrophotometry, Impedance, Flow cytometry, Image cytometry, Microscopy)
    Hemoglobin 14.0 g / dL (11.6-15.0)
    Red blood cells 4.78 (x10 ^ 12 / L 3.92-5.13)
    Globular Volume 41.7 % (35.5-44.9)
    Average Globular Volume 87.2 fl (78.2-97.9)
    Globular Hemoglobin Media 29.3 pg (26.5-32.6)
    Conc. Hemoglobin Glob.Med. 33.6 g / dL (32.0-36.5)
    R.D.W. 12.6 % (12.2-16.1)
    Leukocytes 3,920 (x10 ^ 9 / L 3,400-9,600 (% x10 ^ 9 / L))
    Neutrophils 49.5 = 1,940 (% 1,560-6,450)
    Eosinophils 4.1 = 0.160 (% 0.030-0.480)
    Basophils 1.0 = 0.040 (% 0.010-0.080)
    Lymphocytes 40.1 = 1,570 (% 0.950-3.070)
    Monocytes 5.4 = 0.210 (% 0.260-0.810)
    Number 249 (x10 ^ 9 / L 157-371)
    Average Platelet Volume 9.9 fl (9.1-11.9)
    Sedimentation speed in the 1st hour 6 mm (<20)
    Ferritin 60 (ng / mL 10-291)
    Reactive Protein C Immunoturbidimetry 0.01 mg / dL (<0.30)
    Glycated Hemoglobin (A1c) HPLC –
    Glycated Hemoglobin (A1c) 5.4 (% <5.7)
    Glycated Hemoglobin IFCC 36 mmol / mol
    Estimated mean glucose (GME – ADA) 108 mg / dL
    Basal glucose (Spectrophotometric enzyme – Hexokinase) 93 mg / dL
    Glucose 60 min after 75g of glucose 113 mg / dL
    Glucose 120 min after 75g of glucose 79 mg / dL
    Creatinine 0.73 mg / dL
    Total Cholesterol 193 mg / dL
    HDL cholesterol 70 mg / dL
    LDL cholesterol 113 mg / dL
    Triglycerides 53 mg / dL
    Sodium 140 mmol / L
    Potassium 4.7 mmol / L
    Chlorides 104 mmol / L
    Calcium 9.70 mg / dL
    Phosphorus 4.2 mg / dL
    Aspartate Aminotransferase (TGO) 19 U / L
    Alanine Aminotransferase (TGP) 14 U / L
    Glutamyl Transferase Range 16 U / L
    Insulin 5.9 μU / ml
    Insulin 60 min after 75g of glucose 98.7 μU / m
    Insulin 120 min after 75g of glucose 66.4 μU / m
    TSH 1,760 mUI / L
    T4 Free 1.04 ng / dL
    Chorionic Gonadotropin
    Chorionic Gonadotropin <1.0 mUI / mL
    FSH 7.6 UI / L
    LH 8.2 UI / L
    Prolactia 2.9 ng / mL
    Progesterone 0.51 ng / mL
    17-OH-Progesterone 0.95 ng / mL
    Estradiol 27.6 pg / mL
    SHBG 51.9 nmol / L
    Total testosterone <20.9 ng / dL
    DHEA (Sulphate) 132 μg / dL
    Delta-4 Androstenedione 3.69 ng / mL
    Folic Acid 4.65 ng / mL
    Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) 557 PG / mL
    Vitamin D, 25 hydroxy 20.9 ng / mL
    Zinc – Atomic Abs. 15.1 μmol / L
    Atc endomysium IgA Negative
    Atc Thyroglobulin IgG <15.0 IU / ml Negative
    Atc Peroxidase thyroid (TPO) IgG 42.8 IU / ml Negative

    At this time I had been spotting almost constantly since stopping HBC so it was impossible to tell which phase I was in and therefore some results were inconclusive. I then visited the gynaecologist who confirmed via a pelvic ultrasound that my ovaries were no longer consistent with PCOS. She did note that my uterine lining was very thin and similar to what she might see in athletes or women with eating disorders. Although neither of these descriptions fit me, it is true that I have lost a significant amount of weight since stopping HBC. I would usually weigh between 53 -55kg (height 170cm) & my weight dropped to 47.5kg at its lowest. I had attributed this to taking Spironolactone (100mg) prescribed to me by my endocrinologist for acne. After receiving the blood test I have been supplementing with vitamin D & Folic Acid and I am stopping Spironolactone. My weight has increased only slightly to 50kg. I have stopped spotting constantly although my periods are still irregular & my BBT doesn't seem to indicate that I have been ovulating (I only have little over a month of BBT data.) Other medications I use are Tretinoin topical Cream 0.05% and occasionally diazepam 10mg to help with insomnia.

    My gynaecologist and endocrinologist have agreed to give me six months to try to put on some weight and see if that helps. If not then they want to put me back on HBC because of the risk of osteoporosis. I'd very much like to avoid this & so I'm seeking your help…

  6. Hi Lara
    I have recently read both your books and would really appreciate some advice. I came off my pill 6 months ago and havent seen a period,i didnt have periods before either (only had about 2 in my life and im 25) i eat very healthy and enough food. The doctors here in the uk refuse to do any tests due to covid so am unable to get any checks. I have been taking inositol, magnesium citrate, vitamin d 4000iu) and zinc. I dont know what else to do, i would really appreciate some advice thank you

  7. huge fan of yours! suffering greatly at 46 (just turned it saturday) with peri symptoms but unfortunately endometriosis. I just bought both of your books. I can’t get any GYN or MD to call in the antibiotic for my condition and it is so sad to me. any ideas? I have communicated with your office and understand I can’t become your patient from the US. should I try to go to Europe for help? I am desperate! they only do surgery surgery surgery here…… I also believe. birth control pills are. HORRIBLE…… take care and you’re a goddess and light worker for doing the work you do—– :).

    • hi Alli,

      can you find a herbalist or naturopathic doctor who can help you to try berberine for endometriosis? It’s the herbal antimicrobial that I prescribe quite often. I discuss it in my new book Hormone Repair Manual.

  8. can you eat black beans, chick peas when you have adenomyosis? can they also cause immune reactions like soy does?

    buy the way, when taking red clover tea, I got a hot flash fatigue kind of feeling at around 5pm everyday, so I have stopped taking it , I know a lot of women taking it reduce their menopause symptom.

  9. I eat way too much dark chocolate during the whole cycle. I crave it, and it’s almost like an addiction. Apart from that I eat a healthy diet with grass fed meat, fish, eggs, home made spelt bread, seaweed, vegetables and healthy oils like grass fed butter, olive oil and MCT oil. In a recent DUTCH test my estradiol came back as low normal and robust progesteron on day 21 of the cycle. I’m 43. On day 23/24 my mood changes drastically and I become weepy, upset and angry. In week 4 I feel fatigued, have unstable blood sugar and have a poor sleep quality. My periods are normally so to say pain free, light (some cycles I would say are too light) and last 2-3 days. My diet is high in phytoestrogens due to the dark chocolate consumption in addition to berries and green leafy vegetables. Is it a possibility that I have lowered estradiol with my diet, and that it causes problems in week 4?

    Thank you.

    • That’s very interesting as I’m similar, also re dark chocolate! I’ve been seed cycling and am breastfeeding and now wondering if I’m suppressing oestrogen too much.

  10. If that theory was correct, women on carnivore diets should be experiencing high hormone levels, however if you look in the carnivore facebook groups you’ll find that their periods are light, short and painless. Agriculture has only been around for 10,000 years or so, which isn’t enough time for a species to adapt much to a new food. If some people have issues with high hormone levels, I suppose that is mainly due to sulphate deficiency, because the body sulphates hormones to temporarily deactivate them and if it can’t do that properly then they linger around in the active state for longer. Better to fix the root cause of the problem than to use plant chemicals to counteract it. Sulphate deficiency is usually due to accumulation of oxalate in the body, which happens because we eat too many agricultural products and we haven’t adapted to the higher oxalate intake either.

  11. Hi Lara – thanks for your post. What about women who have endometriosis that are trying to conceive naturally? Although the soy may have an anti-estrogen effect, would the soy suppress their fertility? Thanks!

  12. Hi Lara! I’m Evelyn, from Argentina. I’m 36 years old. I have heavy pre menstrual symptoms related to sadness, anger, irritability. I become “Hulk” for one week. I read about isoflavones could help with pre menstrual symptoms. But I don’t want to alter my fertility. What would you recommend me? Can we talk or have a chat?
    Thank you very much. I look foward to hear from you. 💜

    • have you seen my book “Cómo mejorar tu ciclo menstrual”? It’s available in Argentina and has a chapter on premenstrual mood symptoms.

  13. I have not had my period in 6.5 years (I am 20). My functional medicine doctor believes I have either adrenal PCOS and/or a mix of HA. I lost some weight around 8th grade into highschool due to sports and eating healthier. l I have very high DHEAS levels but very low LH and FSH. I also have low levels of estradiol (the highest it has ever been with 5 labs is 41 pg/ml)

    I am not a vegetarian but enjoy bean dishes, lentil pasta, etc. regularly. I do not eat any soy products but eat a lot of nuts, nut butters and almond flour, flaxseeds, fruits, vegetables, etc. After reading “Period Repair Manual”, this article, and other sources it seems like they can be both good or bad. I am wondering if other sources other than soy are enough to throw my period off/ if they should be avoided (or what type should be avoided )with someone who experiences symptoms that I do.

  14. Post miscarriage (December 2018) I gained 30 pounds within 3 months. Early 2019. My doctor ran a hormonal blood work panel. My estrogen has been low since. A naturopath had me start taking Dr. Christopher’s Red Clover daily for the past 7 months. Should I stop this? She told me it would help balance my estrogen levels, now i’m wondering if it’s causing issues and metabolizing my estrogen too much? I am also taking bioidentical progesterone as my progesterone has been low for a year now. I am not in menopause, I am 31 years old and we are trying to conceive.
    She also had me start using Dr. Christopher’s Kelp supplements for thyroid support, I had my entire thyroid removed in 2010 due to papillary cancer. After reading you’re book I’m wondering if I should also stop the Kelp.

  15. Hey ! Thanks for this post. There’s so much confusion about soy. My question is tofu also has phytoestrogens then? Then tofu is good for Endometriosis?

    • Tofu definitely has phytoestrogens, therefore, in theory, the anti-estrogen effect of that should be beneficial.

      In practice, some women with endo feel better off soy which could be because 1) soy is a common food sensitivity and 2) soy foods are often high-histamine.

  16. What diet could be recommended for thickening of uterus endometrium (4-5 mm), from 2018 till today, I am 52, menopause for 4 years, papa test was always OK. My gynecologist told me that I maybe eat a lot of phytoestrogens? I have regular controls. Thank you!!!

  17. Thank you Lara for your response . I break out with phytoestrogen supplements , flaxseeds , nuts , anything with soy . I couldn’t do seed cycling for hormonal acne because I break out with flaxseeds etc. I developed acne only after I took B.C. for a few days and since then acne has been relentless . I don’t eat sugar. Any suggestions ?

    Plus for how long can one take zinc ? Can you continue taking it for years ?

    Thank you and looking forward to your response.

  18. Hello Lara,

    I read all these great things about phytoestrogens, but every time I try to take one , I break into cystic acne . I have no idea why this happens . I also break into cystic acne with Omega 3s ; all these things are supposed to reduce body inflammation but they end up exacerbating my acne . What are your thoughts on it ?


  19. Thank you so much Lara regarding the Progesterone reminder. Yes l am on micronised Progesterone and 50mg estrogen patches. However sth new and confusing happened which l would love to share with you. My doctor told me to wear the estrogen patches everyday ( by changing them each week) then take progesteron for the last 2 weeks of my cycle. After then l am supposed to have a period and that after the progesteron and during my period l should give 1 week break to estrogen ( 1 week of using nothing and starting all over again following the same cycle) However on the online platform l was discussing this with the other members and l ve been told that normally there should be no break at all and that l should wear the edtrogen patches all the time. Also instead of 14 days l should use the progesterone for 12 days. I m really confused and shy away from contacting my doctor as this was exactly what he told me to do. What re your thoughts dear Lara?

  20. Sorry Lara but some questions still left in my mind. Because l was actually diagnoised with POF 5 years ago at age 32 and refused the Hrt, l now have a decline bone density and started taking Estrogen patches and progesterone pills since last two weeks. I m trying so hard to have a daily diet rich in calcium ( also take magnesium, d3 and zinc), and try to get it from dietary source rather than supplement. My question is, l don t eat any soy however l eat almost 100gr tahini per day as its high in calcium, well as many other Phytoestrogen foods.( I see that sesame seeds are quite high up in the list.) Would eating a daily diet rich in Phytoestrogen reduce the 50mg of Estrogen l get from my patch or adds more on top that it becomes too much and dangerous? Thank you Lara.

    • Phytoestrogens will not make much of a difference either way in your situation except to help your body to metabolise the estrogen from the patch — which is a good thing.

      With HRT, one of the most important things is to take micronised progesterone (Prometrium or Utrogestan) rather than a progestin. Read 4 Things to know about body-identical HRT.

  21. Hi Lara, l m 37 diagnoised with POF and in our family we eat a lot of beans,lentils, seeds. My question would be if there is any harm to continue to do so or should l lessen it. Another point l m struggling to decide is, wheter l should take progesterone pills for 14 days like my doctor prescribed or for 12 days, as lately l ve been told by another lady who was in my situation for the past 11 years that 14 days of progesterone would be too much. I m on 3.9mg Climera estrogen patch everyday and was told to take progesterone pills for the last two weeks. 200mg a day. Would you recommend 14 or 12 days? Thank you so much.

    • From a hormonal perspective, beans, lentils, seeds are fine to eat in any situation.

      And re: progesterone dosing, best to speak to your doctor. When using estradiol + progesterone for menopausal hormone therapy, the progesterone can be dosed continuously or intermittently.

  22. Hello, I am Lorena. I am reading your book Period repair manual in Spanish. I am from Mexico. I was diagnosed with endometriosis and I was taking the birth control pills for 10 moths and I stopped taking the pill because I am looking for a natural treatment. In the book you recommend turmeric caps in high dose, magnesium,  zinc, resveratrol and others supplements. Can I start with turmeric (how many caps?) Zinc and magnesium? Do you recommend a brand of supplements? And how long do I have to take them?

  23. Hi Dr. Briden, I am 46, on paleo diet with vegetables being dominant part of it. I`ve been suffering from extreme fatigue, balance issues and other “flu-like” symptoms on the first day of my cycle. I decided to try and exclude animal protein from my diet for 10 days before my period starts in attempt to decrease inflammation and avoid getting those symptoms. For that time my main protein sources became legumes (lentils and chickpeas) and rice. The day before my period I had a very strange symptoms: elevated heart rate and body temperature (could it be a hot flash?). On the day 1 of my period I experienced extreme weakness, heat intolerance and low stress tolerance. It took me 4 days to go back to my “baseline”. Next month I excluded meat for 4 days before getting my period, continued eating eggs and fish, and also legumes. Hours before getting my period I got similar symptoms, except this time there were also anxiety-like symptoms and racing heart every time I was standing or walking. Also, I started sweating at night several days before my period and for the first two days of it. And again, it took me 3-4 days to fully recover. Does it sound to you as part of perimenopause or could phytoestrogens in legumes play a role in it?

    Thank you very much!

    • If you’re getting symptoms just after your period, the first thing to consider is iron. Has your doctor tested your ferritin levels?
      Might be worth checking with your doctor generally to rule out thyroid and other issues.

      I’m pretty sure phytoestrogens wouldn’t be playing a role in the symptoms you’re describing.

  24. Hi Lara,

    I don’t get my period or ovulation and I have little facial hair on my chin. I have been taking zinc, magnesium, vitamin D and myo inositol because the doctor said I have PCOS. And I just started taking P-plus cream which is a natural progesterone but I spot each time I apply it to my skin and also expressing breast tenderness. Should I continue with all the supplement and also get iodine like you recommended in your book, will it help me ovulate/ conceive.

  25. Hi, thank God I found out about you yesterday and decided to read your book period repaid manual. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I started trying to have baby and now Mild left hydrosalpinx with overflow spillage on my Fallopian tube. I am about to start fertility treatment but after I came across your book yesterday. I want to do all natural treatment. I am currently taking Vitex, living bitters, vitamin D and fish oil. I need advice on how to go about it. Thanks

  26. Can flax or other phytoestrogens suppress or delay menstruation? I get flu like PMS and this month took flax during it on the assumption the flu like body aches were from estrogen withdrawal. The aches went away but the period never came. But I got egg white like discharge like I normally do around ovulation.

  27. Have you read the book Breast Cancer Boot Camp?
    Makes the case that phytoestrogens contribute to breast cancer due to estrogen receptors getting overstimulated –> abnormal growth –> cancer. Conclusion from thousands of thermograms of women.

    Would love your thoughts Lara!

    • First step is for her to check with her doctor to test for infection and get a diagnosis.
      One possibility is bacterial vaginosis which can be treated with probiotics.

  28. Thank you very much. Yes, I`ve read that blog post and both editions of your books. Very helpful. With the information you are providing there I`ve eliminated PMS and period pain. I am very grateful to you!

  29. Hi Dr Briden, awesome article! I’m a huge fan of your book! Question: where has this myth of phyoestrogens of causing higher estrogen levels come from??

  30. Thank you for replying. I love your book. There’s nothing like it. And I’ve bought it for so many people. You rule! Is the only cure for adenomyosis a hysterectomy?

  31. I did a month long siliva test for hormones. Both estrogen an progesterone were flatlined, with estrogen being slightly higher. That was 2 years ago, when I was 42. I have have severe symptoms (no cycle hot flashes, no sleep, terrible mood (crying and anger, when neither is normal). No one has been able to help. I would welcome any advice!

  32. Hi Lara-
    Is 45 too young to be through menopause? I’ve get hot flashes and night sweats but drinking soy milk and taking black cohosh has eliminated them. I suffered for many years from pmdd. Now that I no longer ovulate, I am completely symptomless. I’m just concerned that 45 is too young to no longer ovulate. Should I be concerned or just happy that I not longer suffer from extreme pms?

    • 45 is technically in the normal range for menopause but a little on the young side in terms of maybe needing a little support for your long-term bone health.
      Probably best to check in with your doctor, but yes, you might be in the situation where you can just be happy.

  33. No endo and never had birth control. Have had a normal pregnancy and birth as well. But i was terrified the whole time that I would accidentally eat soy and have a miscarriage!

  34. Hi Lara. Thank you for this. I have been thinking about exactly this subject! I have fibrocystic breasts, andenomyosis, extremely heavy frequent painful periods and I’m high risk breast cancer due to family history. I’m coeliac and don’t have gluten obviously, but I also avoid dairy as it makes everything much more painful. I recently tried using soya products instead of almond as they taste more neutral and after a few months I was in agony; I had a burst ovarian cyst and a huge painful cyst in my breasts. I’m off the soya now and it’s all calmed down. In light of your article – why would this be? The old ‘soya is good/soya is bad’ dilemma is a real pain for me and for my mother recovering from breast cancer. Kind regards, Liz.

    • I probably should have stated this in the article, but in general, I’m not a fan of soy. Not because it’s a phytoestrogen, but because it’s a common food sensitivity and can worsen inflammatory conditions like adenomyosis. There’s really no reason to have large amounts of soy but it should be fine to have a moderate amount of other food-based phytoestrogens.

  35. Thank you very much for very informative article. Would you recommend seed cycling in perimenopause. I am 46, still ovulating, have endo and thyroid nodules. Thank you!

  36. Hi Dr. Briden, I saw you speak a couple of years ago at Loom in Los Angeles. I was misdiagnosed with endometriosis (I had the surgery, no endo) due to symptoms of painful sex, painful periods, and hormone imbalances. I also had several hip surgeries. You suggested it sounded like my problems might be structural, rather than hormonal, and you were correct. I was abused by a pediatrician with medical instruments as a child and was recently diagnosed with vaginal nerve damage, vulvodynia, and vaginismus.

    Here’s my question to you: Back in the day, when I was still trying to get an accurate diagnosis, and doctors were focusing on hormones rather than structural diagnoses, my endocrinologist did a hormone panel and said my testosterone was on the higher end and put me on Spironolactone for acne. I was on it for about 3 years. I tapered off of it about 2.5 years ago because I didn’t see any progress with acne or other symptoms. I’ve never been on hormonal birth control.

    Today, I vaginally insert a verabase cream twice daily made with gabapentin, lidocaine, and estradiol. My gynecologist recently rewrote the prescription to include testosterone, which makes me very nervous because I thought my testosterone levels were already too high. I asked her why she added testosterone and she said that a lot of my vaginal pain during sex is because of the thin tissue, due to nerve damage. It’s not absorbing hormones, so it’s not as plump as it should be, which is why it feels like it’s burning. She said the estradiol and testosterone will help the tissue with plumpness. However, she said if I was uncomfortable with the testosterone, she can re-write the prescription without it.

    I’m already nervous and uncomfortable with the estradiol, I don’t want synthetic hormones interfering in my body. But she’s very, very pushy about wanting me to go on birth control. We’ve already had an argument about it. I have an appointment this Friday to discuss the prescription. Can you offer your thoughts on whether conditions similar to mine benefit from testosterone in the verabase cream prescription, and if there is any benefit to structural conditions like this from going on hormonal birth control?

    Thank you so much!

  37. Hi Lara, I’ve had the same issues as well with soy so I tend to avoid flax and any other food high in phytoestrogen because I had the worst hormonal acne. I was leaning on non dairy alternatives because i had my gallbladder out in my 20s. Dairy was just too heavy on my stomach. I continue to avoid milk to this day. Side thought, I look back now and realize that birth control probably caused my gallbladder issue. Now that I am off of birth control just recently, I’m almost 35, do I need to be concerned with a reaction to soy? Why does birth control cause a reaction to soy?

  38. What is going on with my wacky reaction to photoestrogens then? Ever since I was 20 or so I react to soy, flax, chia with breast pain, period type bleeding, and cramps. Thanks!

    • I’ve heard this kind of reaction from a few other commenters but I’ve never seen it with patients.
      Are you on any kind of hormonal birth control? or, do you have endometriosis? Because definitely, soy seems to be a problem for some women with endo, which I think is more of an immune reaction.

  39. Our daughter has recently discovered breast lumps which are looking like fibro adenomas on ultrasound. One is quite large. She is refusing to have a biopsy. Any help with healing and dissolving these would really be appreciated. I must get your book out and have another read!

  40. Hi Lara, do you have any thoughts on anti-inflammatory autoimmune protocol type diets? That is, diets that avoid not only wheat and dairy but also things like legumes and nightshades? Is a diet that extreme helpful or necessary? I was recently diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome (which also affects sex hormones) and I am trying to figure out the best way to optimize my health, but it’s very overwhelming.

    • Thanks for all the amazing advice. Your period repair manual saved me with its migraine advice.

      My periods became lighter, although continued to be regular on 27 day cycle, when I switched from dairy milk to soy milk two years ago. I’m now ttc with six months of no joy. I plan to reduce the amount of soy I eat as i suspect this could cause light periods (from your articles and others).

      If the soy is causing light periods, how long will it take to recover?

      Thank you!


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