If you’re not sure what estrogen is, it’s a sex hormone that is responsible for developing certain body parts, functions, and systems. Now, estrogen is a hormone that all of us have, irrespective of gender and depending on our biological sex, will have different functions.
Even though it completely depends on you and your body, estrogen typically affects areas such as:
- Erectile and sperm function
- Cardiovascular system
- Libido and sexual desire
Bit of a biology lesson for you now, but we should mention that estrogen isn’t just one hormone. It’s made up of a group of three hormones known as estrone, estradiol, and estriol. Out of the three, estriol is the main form of estrogen that contributes to male sexual function.
Additionally, testosterone is part of a collective of hormones we know as androgens. For those who are male from birth, testosterone tends to be the predominant hormone in the body. This is for the purpose of sexual development and function. In saying that however, estrogen still plays a very important part as it has to work with testosterone to create a balance.
There has been research to show that estrogen is essential and extremely useful for men. With the correct balance, it can help to regulate cholesterol, maintain bone density and enhance sexual function. There can also be times when androgens are transformed into estrogen by an enzyme called aromatase.
Those who experience low aromatase activity may have issues with:
- Abnormal bone formation
- Fertility impairment
- Metabolic syndromes
When your estrogen levels are not right, it can lead to a host of problems from infertility to heart disease.
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What else is really important to recognize is that estrogen and testosterone are not gendered in any way, therefore meaning they have no influence on masculinity or gender. To believe that they do can be incredibly damaging to your mental and physical health as it brings a lot of shame and pressure into your life.
Estrogen and testosterone: what is a normal level?
So, to make matters more confusing, there isn’t actually a “normal” level for all men to be, it’s all about balance. Too low an estrogen level can be awful for us guys, so we should look for a testosterone to estrogen ratio of 15 to 1.
Is too much estrogen a concern?
Well, this completely depends if you’re showing any signs or experiencing any symptoms. If you had testosterone levels that were three times higher than normal but your estrogen was balanced with it, as long as nothing else has changed, therapy or treatment would be unnecessary.
What we also need to bear in mind is that your levels of testosterone and estrogen will rise and fall throughout your life. In most cases, this will be as you age, when you’re unwell or when experience any weight changes.
More science for you, but a man has to know these things, right? The average male has between 10 and 40 picograms of estradiol per milliliter of blood. You’d then expect to see around 300 to 1200 nanograms of testosterone per deciliter of blood. However, it is completely fine if your levels are different from these, as long as the ratio is preserved.
Symptoms of high and low estrogen
As we mentioned earlier, when your levels aren’t quite what they’re meant to be, you could experience some side effects. If you do and then find that they affect your everyday life and become more severe, then we would advise paying a visit to your doctor.
Just to confuse matters further, many of the symptoms of high and low estrogen overlap, so talking to a health professional to go over any issues would be best.
Symptoms of high estrogen
- Weight changes (specifically weight gain)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs)
- Gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue)
It could be that these changes are suggesting something more serious is happening within your body, such as:
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
- Cardiovascular issues e.g. blood clots and strokes
Should you be concerned by any of the above, consult your doctor.
Symptoms of low estrogen
- Coronary artery and heart disease
- Bone loss, pain and potentially osteoporosis
- Insulin resistance
- Weight gain
- Delayed ejaculation
- Stunted growth throughout puberty
Again, if any of the symptoms are severe or affecting your day-to-day life, it’d be best to visit your doctor for tests and to discuss treatment etc.
High estrogen: the causes
It could be that you just naturally have high levels of estrogen, which as we now know is fine, as long as your testosterone is also balanced. However, there are several factors that can send your estrogen rocketing, including:
- Older age
- Weight gain
- Hormonal conditions
Other than the health factors in the list above, the biggest reason for high levels of estrogen is typically the consumption of supplements that contain estrogen. These are things such as workout supplements and anabolic steroids. We know that anabolic steroids, in particular, increase the number of androgens that might be converted into estrogen.
Also Read: Age and Libido: Is your drive normal?
It would seem that there is a connection between estrogen levels and age. Studies have shown that many 60-year-olds have more estrogen in their bodies than a 30-year-old. Although, this could be due to the fact that male testosterone levels drop between one and two percent every year after the age of 30. This would then mean that by age 75, a man will have lost about 30% of the testosterone they would’ve had back when they were 25.
What’s more, is that testosterone and estrogen are also linked to metabolism. So, as your testosterone starts to decrease, you’ll likely gain weight. This is because a buildup of fat is associated with estrogen production. Not only that, but aromatase is linked to the increased production of fat tissue.
Some tumors, particularly testicular tumors can increase levels of the aromatase enzyme. Now we understand why you’ll hear weight loss mentioned as the first thing to do when addressing issues with high estrogen levels. As we all already know a healthy, varied diet and regular exercise is the surest and safest way to shed that fat.
For treatment, there may be certain hormone therapies to help boost testosterone in men, which may also in turn increase estrogen production as they prompt the testicles to produce more enzymes. However, this would be something you’d need to discuss with your doctor.
Causes of low estrogen
Aging may somewhat link estrogen to weight gain, but it’s also linked to a drop in estrogen. As we already mentioned earlier and further research has revealed, testosterone decreases with age, but estrogen also has to decline to keep the balance. There are also other health conditions that may result in decreased estrogen production, such as:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Autoimmune conditions
- Extremely low body weight
- Hypogonadism (Reduced sex hormone production)
- Hemochromatosis (too much iron in your blood)
Controlling your estrogen levels
If you’ve been to see a doctor for a diagnosis or already know that you have an estrogen imbalance, there are several treatment routes for you. If the high or low estrogen is the only problem then they may prescribe medication and suggest lifestyle changes for you to make.
When discussing treatment, weight loss will likely be the number one thing they’ll talk about. So, a diet low in fat and high in fiber will most definitely put you on the right path. Foods that are high in estrogen compounds include:
- Sweet potatoes
To better your estrogen levels and drop some pounds, aim to get moving two to three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. We’ve got some tips that may help you get started:
- Start off slowly with easy exercises such as a walk or light workout video
- Look for home workouts that are for your level of fitness
- Get clued up on some cardio such as burpees and mountain climbers
- Opt for simple workout equipment to enhance your workouts, such as resistance bands
Hopefully, you recognize that is it better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our hormone levels, right guys?
A quick blood or urine test will help determine if there is anything to be concerned about. If you decide not to and a problem goes unsolved, this will likely affect your cardiovascular health and longevity.
Don’t let high or low estrogen affect your daily life and cause you further issues, consult your doctor and get it seen to if it’s a problem you’re experiencing.
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