Cellulite, Estrogen, and Female Incontinence

Early on in the Cellulite Investigation, I learned that estrogen plays a key role in the cellulite puzzle. This is one reason cellulite is overwhelmingly a female problem. It’s not because we’re lazier than men or not as physically fit (as our insecurities tend to tell us). Men only develop cellulite if they are in an estrogen-dominant state, such as with certain genetic disorders, low testosterone levels, or when receiving estrogen therapy for prostate cancer.1

In the midst of my estrogen research, I was surprised when my dog, Gia, came down with an estrogen problem of her own. When Gia turned three, she developed an embarrassing condition: urinary incontinence. She still told us if she had to go outside, but she often wet herself while sleeping. (This is how she earned the nickname, Pee-Pee Pants). The condition came and went, but last month it was almost unbearable. Thank goodness for tile floors. The vet tested her for a urinary tract infection but the results came back negative.

I was surprised to learn that twenty percent of female dogs suffer from incontinence these days. Vets often prescribe PPA (phenylpropanolamine) to strengthen the urinary sphincter.  It’s a psychoactive medication the dog will be on for her whole life. Side effects include restlessness, excitability, hypertension, anorexia, and decreased appetite –-as if I need my three-year-old Lab to be more excitable.

Unwilling to go the prescription drug route, I started sniffing around the Internet in my usual sleuth style. I soon came across information about female spay incontinence, a condition where estrogen deficiency caused by the removal of the ovaries leads to a weakened urinary sphincter. Vets often prescribe synthetic estrogen, such as DES (diethylstilbestrol) to boost hormone levels in dogs with this condition. On the recommendation of a holistic vet, I decided to try to increase her estrogen levels with soy, instead.

I was familiar with the research regarding soy as a phytoestrogen, a plant that mimics estrogen in the body, but I didn’t realize how dramatically soy can alter our hormone levels. Gia responded to the soy supplements immediately. It’s clear that the soy has a significant effect on the level of estrogen in her system. I’m still experimenting to determine her minimal effective dosage and whether or not I can replace the supplement with a natural food source (such as sprouted soy beans), but when I reduce her soy intake too much, she has an accident within a matter of hours.

So what did this experience teach me about hormonal balance? One, our hormones are easily influenced by the food we eat. Two, there are alternatives to covering up hormonal problems with prescription medication. Three, Pee-Pee Pants loves her edamame.

*This post is a part of  Real Food Wednesday hosted at CheeseSlave, Works For Me Wednesday hosted at We Are THAT Family, and Fight Back Friday hosted at FoodRenegade..

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Rosy says:

Unfermented soy has lots of anti-nutrients in it. Try giving your sweet pooch some fermented soy products such as miso, or tempeh. It should still have the phytoestrogens, but with out the phytic acid, and other yucky stuff that makes your guts into a war zone.


oooh, delving into the vegan section of the grocery store. Uncharted territory for me! You know you're a food nerd if you get excited about reading through labels at the supermarket.

Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE says:

Fascinating article — great sleuthing! I had never heard that before. Shocking that it is 20%!

Soy may work, but it is not an optimal choice (as I'm sure you know). I think fermented soy as suggested by the commenter above is a great idea.

You may also want to try using maca.


"The maca root does not contain plant estrogens but, instead, is an adaptogen that is, it helps to balance out our body's own existing hormone system and encourages the production of hormones. Maca root also contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron as well as Vitamins B1, B2, B12, C, and E."



When I am regular about taking my maca, my PMS completely disappears. It's amazing! Thanks for posting this — you reminded me to take my maca.


Hi, Ann Marie. This info is helpful –thanks so much! I've been wondering if there is a way to get her body to improve the estrogen level on its own, without relying on phytoestrogens. I didn't think of maca, even though I've taken it before (my hormones were too screwy from the fluoride at the time to notice any effect).

I will have to start researching maca for dogs. And maybe eventually I will get my hormones in line, as well. Gia always seems to respond faster to healing through nutrition, maybe because she's only four!


Also, does anyone know if soybean sprouts would be a good option for an estrogen supplement? I feed her sprouts anyway to keep her "food allergies" at bay, so I might as well sprout soybeans if that would help with the estrogen levels, too. Does sprouted soy still have the phytoestrogens? Perhaps it's time to check Dr. Daniel's book out of the library again…

Greenearth says:

Really enjoyed your article. Estrogen is something I take seriously having recovered from three estrogen positive breast cancers. My doctor will not allow me to have soy for the reasons you express in your article and I am constantly looking at foods for how they affect my bad estrogen levels. Look forward to visiting your site again.


Hi, Greenearth. I can't imagine what an ordeal you've gone through. I never realized how much soy can affect our hormones, and it's found in so many products you wouldn't expect it to be in. Are there any other foods you have to be particularly careful about, as far as estrogen levels go?

Thanks for your kind comment!

sheryl v says:

Ok…when did soy become bad for us? When I first began to worry about what I was eating…ten years ago maybe, when youth started to depart…the first thing all of my fitness guru’s pushed on me was soy! soy milk, so yogurt, soy ice cream, soy this that and the other thing. they said it would decrease my cholesteral, up my protein, cause none of the upset that dairy products cause me, and that generally it was a wonder food. I drink GALLONS of soy milk, I love the stuff. Now I hear…soy is bad! Soy is full of antinutrients! Stop drinking soy!

Honestly I’m about to just stop listening to any “experts” because over the years they’ve scared me into thinking my coffee was going to give me pancreatic cancer..then they changed their minds and said it was good for me..now it’s back to being bad for me….

A number of foods that were “health foods” are now bad, foods that were bad are now good….honestly…REALLY?

What’s a girl to do?


This is such a great question/comment, Sheryl! Do you mind if I re-post it on the blog next week? Of course I will post a full reply, too.

I used to feel exactly the same way until I started researching traditional diets. I feel empowered now to be able to see through the “expert” opinions and the food trends to be able to tell which foods are truly healthy. I need to give it more thought, but I’m trying to pinpoint exactly what caused the difference. I think it has to do with having developed a strong food philosophy, like a lens through which to judge all the conflicting information out there. I’m going to mull this over some more and hopefully I can get back to you with something helpful next week. Thanks again for your thought-provoking comment!

sherylv says:

Certainly, post it wherever you think it might benefit.

It’s such a frustrating thing, right now, eating! My instinct tells me that my grandmother, who lived to be 98 and who by the way had no cellulite, was right. Her philosophy was “If it doesn’t go bad, it’s not good for you. If it’ keeps forever it’s no good!” She ate real food…meat, potatoes, veggies, fruit and desert! She cooked with butter, fried chicken when she felt like it, didn’t believe in “instant” anything, and had never heard of a phytonutrient or an antinutrient. She watched her salt, I think, because her blood pressure was a little high once she hit her 70’s. I’m thinking the old woman knew what she was talking about 🙂


Yes, your instincts are right on! Real food is the key. The more difficult part is defining exactly what that means and putting it into a philosophy that can be applied to your daily diet. I don’t think that’s too hard, I just never tried to put it into words before. I would like to be able to do that, though, so thanks for the nudge.

Have you read Nina Planck’s book, Real Food? It’s a great place to start if you are feeling frustrated by eating, as you so aptly put it!


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