Many people are under the impression that estrogen is solely a female hormone, but this isn’t true. Men also produce estrogen and it plays an important role in many areas of the body, including brain functioning, libido, heart health, bone health, cholesterol, and testosterone regulation. In healthy men, the levels of testosterone and estrogen are balanced. When estrogen levels elevate, testosterone tends to decrease, so high estrogen is often paired with low testosterone. It can therefore sometimes be difficult to differentiate symptoms of low testosterone from symptoms of high estrogen.
Symptoms of High Estrogen in Men
Symptoms of high estrogen in men include:
- Low libido
- Decreased erectile function
- Increased belly fat
- Decreased muscle mass
- Enlarged breasts
Having elevated levels of estrogen isn’t just disheartening because of some of the less serious symptoms, it can also lead to more serious health conditions like diabetes. Research shows that high estrogen levels are correlated with a higher risk of diabetes, but low testosterone levels are not. High estrogen is also connected to a higher risk of prostate cancer and certain autoimmune disorders. Therefore, it is imperative that if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is determined whether it is low testosterone or high estrogen.
Causes of High Estrogen in Men
There are a number of reasons why a man may experience elevated levels of estrogen.
Research shows that as aging advances, there is an increase in aromatase, which is the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. This can lead to higher estrogen levels.
It is typical for advancing age to correspond with decreased muscle mass and increased fat. Fat also contains aromatase, which serves as a reserve for estradiol. This can lead to elevated estrogen levels in men.
After a man already has too much estrogen, these estrogen levels can lead to a vicious cycle. Higher levels of estrogen trick the brain into producing less testosterone, which can make the symptoms of high estrogen even worse.
Just as too much estrogen is detrimental to men, too little estrogen can be problematic. Ironically, many of the symptoms of too little estrogen are similar to the symptoms of too much estrogen! According to recent research, the most prevalent symptoms of low estrogen in men are in body fat and sexual function. Decreased estrogen is associated with a few different health conditions, including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. There is also an increased risk of bone fractures in men with low estrogen. Because of how close symptoms of low and high estrogen are, as well as the symptoms of low testosterone, it is imperative to see a physician to be tested when you experience these symptoms.
If you suspect that you have low testosterone, high estrogen, or both, we can help. Contact our men’s health clinic in Glendale, AZ to receive testosterone replacement therapy. We can test your hormone levels and determine what the best course of action is for you.