Estrogen is a sex hormone that is responsible for the development of certain body parts, systems, and functions. It is a hormone that is present in people of all genders and will have different functions, depending on your biological sex.
Depending on you and your body, estrogen can affect areas such as:
- Erectile and sperm function
- Libido and sexual desire
- Cardiovascular system
However, we should mention that estrogen isn’t just one hormone, it is a structure made up of three known as estrone, estradiol, and estriol. Of them all, estriol is the main form of estrogen that plays a part in male sexual function.
Now, testosterone belongs to a collective of hormones known as androgens. In those who are male from birth, testosterone tends to be the most dominant hormone in the body. This is for the purpose of sexual development and function. However, estrogen is still very important as it often works with testosterone to create a balance.
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Studies have shown that estrogen is both useful and essential for men. It helps to regulate cholesterol, maintain bone density and improve sexual function. There can be times when androgens can be transformed into estrogen but an enzyme called aromatase.
Men who experience low aromatase activity may struggle with:
- Abnormal bone formation
- Fertility impairment
- Metabolic syndromes
When your estrogen levels are off-balance, this can lead to an array of problems from infertility and bone loss to heart disease. What is really important to recognize is that estrogen and testosterone are not gendered and therefore have no influence on masculinity or gender. Believing that they do can be damaging to your physical and mental health as it brings a lot of shame and pressure into your life.
What is considered normal for estrogen and testosterone levels?
Well, there isn’t a defined “normal” level, it’s actually all about balance. Too low and estrogen level can be awful for us guys, so we should strive for a testosterone to estrogen ratio of 15 to 1.
Should you be concerned about too much estrogen?
So, this is completely depending on if you’re showing any signs or experiencing any symptoms. If your testosterone level were to be three times higher than normal and your estrogen the same, as long as nothing else has changed, therapy or treatment would be unnecessary.
We also need to bear in mind that your levels of testosterone and estrogen will rise and fall throughout your life. Typically, this is as you age, when you’re unwell or experience weight change.
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It is said that 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. Of course, it is completely fine if your levels are different from these, as long as the ratio is preserved.
High or low estrogen: the symptoms
As we mentioned earlier, when things are a little off-balance, you may start to experience some side effects. If you find that they affect your everyday life and are becoming more severe, then it would be a good idea to pay a visit to your doctor. Just to make things more confusing, 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
- Erectile dysfunction
- Weight changes (specifically weight gain)
- Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs)
- Gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue)
It is also possible that these changes are indicating something more serious, such as:
- Cardiovascular issues e.g. blood clots and strokes
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
Symptoms of low estrogen
- Weight gain
- Insulin resistance
- Delayed ejaculation
- Stunted growth throughout puberty
- Bone loss, pain and potentially osteoporosis
- Coronary artery and heart disease
Again, if any of the symptoms are severe or affecting your day-to-day life, it’d be best to consult a doctor.
The causes of high estrogen
It is possible for your body to naturally have high levels of estrogen, which is fine, as long as your testosterone is balanced. However, there are many elements that can knock your estrogen levels out of kilter, including:
- Older age
- Weight gain
- Hormonal conditions
The main reason for high levels of estrogen is usually the consumption of supplements that contain estrogen, such as anabolic steroids and workout supplements. We know that anabolic steroids, in particular, increase the number of androgens that might be converted into estrogen.
There seems to be a connection between this and age as many 60-year-olds have more estrogen in their bodies than a 30-year-old. However, this could be due to the fact that male testosterone levels drop between one and two percent every year after the age of 30. So, this then means by age 75, a man will have lost about 30% of the testosterone they would’ve had when they were 25.
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Not only that, but testosterone and estrogen are also linked to metabolism. This means that as testosterone decreases, you’ll tend to gain weight, as a buildup of fat is associated with estrogen production. It is also because aromatase is linked to the increased production of fat tissue.
As strange as it may sound, some tumors, particularly testicular tumors can increase levels of the aromatase enzyme. This is why you’ll hear weight loss mentioned as the first thing to do when addressing issues with high estrogen levels. A healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise is the surest and safest way to shed that fat.
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.
Causes of low estrogen
Even though aging may somewhat link estrogen to weight gain, it’s also linked to a drop in estrogen. Studies have shown that testosterone decreases with age, but estrogen also decreases to keep the balance. There are also other health conditions that may result in decreased estrogen production, such as:
- Incredibly low body weight
- Hypogonadism (reduced sex hormone production)
- Hemochromatosis (too much iron in your blood)
- Autoimmune conditions
- Cardiovascular diseases
Managing your estrogen levels
If you’ve been to see a doctor and now know that you have an estrogen imbalance, there are several treatment routes you could take. If the high or low estrogen is the only problem then they may prescribe medication and suggest lifestyle changes for you to make.
As we stated earlier, weight loss will be the number one thing they’ll talk about, so a diet low in fat and high in fat will likely help. 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:
- 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
- Look for home workouts that are for your level of fitness
- Start off slowly with easy exercises such as a walk or light workout video
The bottom line
We now recognize that is it better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our hormone levels, right?
A quick blood or urine test will help determine if there is anything to be worried about. If you decide not to and a problem goes untreated, 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 you need to.
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