The common symptoms of menopause (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood changes, weight gain, sleep issues, etc.) are brought upon by the normal reduction in estrogen levels that occur during this time period. Beyond just the symptoms of menopause, reductions in estrogen levels can also increase risk of weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis. 

One of the main regulators of estrogen levels in the body is the gut microbiome. While the ovaries and adrenal glands are what produce estrogen for women, the gut microbiome plays a pivotal role in regulating the amount of estrogen available in circulation. We call the bacteria in our gut that affect estrogen levels the “estrobolome”. 

The estrobolome regulates estrogen levels by producing an enzyme called Beta-glucuronidase (1). This enzyme reactivates metabolized estrogens. Once estrogens are reactivated, they can begin to help with some of those unwanted menopausal symptoms.

However, this process of reactivating estrogens can become impaired when gut dysbiosis is present. Gut dysbiosis means that some of the cornerstone, beneficial species of the estrobolome are missing and there is less overall diversity. This can lead to even lower levels of estrogen for menopausal women and exacerbate their symptoms. 

One of the ways we help menopausal women get symptomatic relief is through comprehensive microbiome testing. This testing can look at both the levels of the Beta-glucuronidase enzyme, as well as the abundance/diversity of the estrobolome species producing it. This allows us to individualize our approach and correct any imbalances present through nutrition, herbal medicine, probiotics and supplementation.