Estrogen is often blamed for irregular periods, mood swings, hot flashes, and other "women's issues," but what about men's health? Could a man's lack of energy, decreased libido, and even breast enlargement be due to his estrogen levels?
If your first thought is “What? I didn't even know that men had estrogen! " you're not alone. But the truth is, while testosterone gets most of the fame, men have estrogen. And it could be causing more problems than you think.
The relationship between testosterone and estrogen
Testosterone levels naturally decline as men age (you may have heard of “low T,” which affects many), but it is important to understand that this decline is only half of the equation.
As a man's testosterone levels drop, he also experiences an increase in estrogen, and together these hormonal changes cause undesirable symptoms.
Let's start with testosterone - it's essential for libido, arousal, and orgasm, but it also helps maintain lean muscle mass, synthesizes neurotransmitters that support good brain function, inhibits fat accumulation, and improves bone density.
Therefore, when a man's testosterone naturally declines 1 percent each year after age 30, it results in a wide range of symptoms including decreased energy and mental capacity, increased abdominal fat, depression, decreased libido and erectile dysfunction.
These symptoms are quite common, however many men do not seek treatment for them, often thinking that it is something they need to live with as they age.
Many men will opt for Viagra as a solution, but this drug doesn't really treat "low T", it does treat erectile dysfunction (ED).
And ED is just a symptom of low testosterone levels, which is a risk factor for many other diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, and other health problems.
However, remember that a man's testosterone measurement is only part of the equation.
Signs of high estrogen in men
At the same time that this natural decrease in testosterone occurs, a man's estrogen generally increases. Here are some signs of high estrogen in men:
· Sexual dysfunction (low libido, decreased morning erections, decreased erectile function)
· Enlarged breasts
· Lower urinary tract symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
· Increased abdominal fat (can also be a symptom of low estrogen)
· Feeling tired
· Loss of muscle mass
· Emotional disorders, especially depression
· Type 2 diabetes
Men with too much estrogen are not only at risk for non-serious symptoms, such as decreased sexual function and enlarged breasts. They are also at high risk for more serious problems, such as type 2 diabetes.
The latest research shows that the increased risk of diabetes is independent of testosterone levels, meaning that high estrogen levels increase the risk of diabetes, whether or not testosterone is low. High estrogen in men also increases the risk of prostate cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Factors that contribute to increased estrogen in men
Did you know that the average 60-year-old man has more circulating estrogen in his blood than the average 60-year-old woman? There are many factors that contribute to an increase in estrogen as men age, including:
1. Enzymes and Fat Storage by Age
As testosterone levels decline, men gain weight more easily, and fat tissue loves to store estrogen.
Another important factor is the activity of enzymes in the body called aromatase enzymes. These enzymes, found in adipose tissue, convert testosterone to estrogen.
In fact, it is a natural process for a man's body to create estrogen, which in small amounts is important for bones and other bodily processes.
But as many men get older and accumulate belly fat, the activity of the aromatase enzyme increases, and this is where the problem occurs.
How do you test for this? There is a measure of health called the ratio of testosterone to estrogen, and with increased activity of the aromatase enzyme, this ratio is significantly altered.
When this happens, more of the testosterone that is already decreasing is converted to estrogen, resulting in all the typical “low T” symptoms.
As our population has become more obese and our diet is unhealthy and full of sugars, white foods, grains, unhealthy fats, and endocrine disruptors, we are likely to see increased aromatization in men, which may even do that develop breast-like tissue or an enlarged breast.
2. Hormone disrupting chemicals
Another important factor is the increasing number of hormone disruptors in the environment, particularly a group called xenoestrogens.
These hormone disruptors mimic estrogen, and they also accumulate in the body, stored in fat cells. Xenoestrogens have been linked to testicular cancer, infertility, early-onset puberty, and more.
Researchers have studied how average testosterone levels in men have been declining over the years, and hormone disruptors are to blame for total testosterone levels in men declining about 22 percent.
3. Meat and dairy
Another factor in the estrogen-testosterone connection? Estrogenic hormones in our food. These hormones, like estradiol, are stored in foods such as meat and dairy and can contribute to hormonal imbalance.
And not only those can be the causes, we also consider:
Testosterone therapy. Men who are treated with injectable forms of synthetic testosterone almost always produce too much estrogen. Bioidentical (natural) testosterone therapy can also lead to high estrogen levels in men, especially when overused or in obese men.
Once a man has too much estrogen in his system, a vicious cycle can ensue in which high estrogen levels lead to a faulty feedback system, tricking the brain and testicles into producing even less testosterone.
This can lead to even higher estrogen levels and more severe estrogen dominance, increasing symptoms of high estrogens.
How to prevent environmental estrogens from affecting us
The good news is that there is a lot that can be done to combat declining testosterone levels and balance rising estrogen levels.
Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and lifestyle choices is huge, and if you're working with a hormone specialist, they may also suggest supplements and bioidentical hormone therapies.
Avoiding xenoestrogens by learning more about household cleaners and cosmetics can also greatly reduce exposure to estrogen, and always buying grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish is another great way to decrease the risks. estrogen hormones in food.
And not just the meat, but the dairy you eat that also contains large amounts of hormones.
In general, a diet that includes everything organic is preferable, especially if you already have the problem manifesting, if not, try at least to opt for free-range meats, dairy products and eggs since they are the ones that bring the highest amount of hormones.
Lastly, it is important to have accurate laboratory tests; this will paint an accurate picture of the initial problem and monitor the progress you are making.
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