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.
I’m still figuring out how to set up our forum, but feel free to come over and say hi while I’m working on it. It’s always nice to hear from my fellow cellulite investigators!