Did you know that women aren’t the only ones with estrogen in their bodies? Men have estrogen too, just not as much as women have. Still, men do need this small amount to be healthy, and overall, estrogen is an important key to achieving hormone balance.
Estrogen is not a hormone that is “replaced” in the male body; instead, it’s a hormone that needs to be controlled. Men need a small amount of estrogen for things like maintaining strong bones. Estrogen is also cardio-protective in men. But it’s also really important that estrogen levels not get too high, as elevated estrogen levels in men can cause unpleasant symptoms (like weight gain and low sex drive), as well as serious health risks (like an increased risk for developing prostate cancer).
For these reasons, we closely monitor and control estrogen levels to ensure that they’re optimized. Due to the above mentioned risk factors, it may be necessary to decrease estrogen levels.
Some Facts about Male Estrogen
- The male body needs a small amount of estrogen just as the female body needs a small amount of testosterone . High estrogen levels in men should be avoided. Small amounts, however, help brain function, are cardio protective, and help to prevent osteoporosis.
- Excess estrogen in men can be unhealthy. It counteracts the effects of testosterone, causes the body to retain water, causes sore nipples and swollen breasts, reduces sex drive, can cause the prostate to swell, and increases the risk for developing prostate cancer.
- In the past, scientists believed that testosterone caused prostate cancer. This is not true. We now know that healthy testosterone levels actually support prostate health. It’s the conversion of testosterone to estrogen that increases the possibility for prostate problems.
- Estrogen levels rise as men age and as their hormones decline. As they age, men tend to become more sedentary, allowing the body to accumulate fat—primarily belly fat. Fat contains an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen.
- Concentrations of estrogen in the prostate increase as men age.
The Dangers of High Estrogen Levels in Men
Excess estrogen in men usually occurs as testosterone declines, because as testosterone declines, most men will accumulate fat–primarily belly fat. Fat contains an enzyme called aromatase; and aromatase converts testosterone to estrogen. In other words, as men age, their body’s tend to exchange testosterone for estrogen.
When we raise testosterone to healthy levels during hormone replacement therapy, some testosterone can convert to excess estrogen.
We control estrogen levels as part of our treatment programs by placing men on an estrogen blocker (also called an aromatase inhibitor) if they need it. This means that we use a medication to suppress estrogen conversion, at the same time as they’re increasing testosterone levels.
By: Heather Schwartzmann, PA-C
“The Greatest Health of Your Life”℠
Boston Testosterone Partners
National Testosterone Restoration for Men
Wellness & Preventative Medicine