During your formative school years, you must’ve surely come across the fact that estrogen is widely regarded as the “female hormone” and testosterone is regarded as the “male hormone.” While this gender association may suggest otherwise, the truth is both these hormones are found in men and women. To put things into perspective, men have more testosterone while women have more estrogen.
In women, estrogen mainly aids the initiation of sexual development and regulates the menstrual cycle. Estrogen is also blamed for spotty and irregular periods, mood swings, hot flashes, and other such issues. The hormones that are produced in your body play a vital role in the way your body works every single day. When these hormone levels are perfectly balanced, your body will work as it should. The problem arises when these hormone levels are unbalanced.1
High estrogen levels or estrogen dominance is possible if there are abnormally high levels of estrogen in your system. Usually, there’s a natural cause for such an increase. However, you can never rule out the possibility of negative effects of a medication.
Symptoms Of Estrogen Common In Men And Women
For starters, the levels of testosterone and estrogen are maintained in the right balance in any man. As estrogen levels increase in men, the testosterone levels begin to drop. This hormonal imbalance can lead to a situation where the symptoms of high estrogen occur along with the symptoms of low testosterone. For this very reason, it can be quite difficult to differentiate between the symptoms of high estrogen and low testosterone.
Here are some of the common symptoms that can be associated with abnormally high estrogen levels in men and women.2
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
- Cold hands or feet
- Decreased sex drive
- Difficulty remembering
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Feeling tired or lacking energy
- Swelling and tenderness in the breasts
- Fibrocystic developments in the breast
- Increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Symptoms Of Estrogen Specific To Men
The most prominent symptoms of high estrogen in men are fertility issues, gynecomastia, and erectile dysfunction. To begin with, estrogen is partly responsible for the creation of healthy sperms. When estrogen levels are high in your body, the number of sperms in your semen may drop considerably. This way, you can have fertility issues.
Estrogen can also stimulate breast tissue growth. If you’re a guy and you have high estrogen levels, you may start developing larger breasts. A good balance of testosterone and estrogen is vital for healthy sexual growth and development. When these very hormones get imbalanced, you may have issues with your sexual function. Men with high estrogen levels may find it extremely difficult to maintain or even have an erection.
Having said this, there are other symptoms of high estrogen levels in men you should watch out for:
- Low libido
- Type-2 diabetes
- Enlarged breasts
- Sexual dysfunction
- Loss of muscle mass
- Increased abdominal fat
- Decreased erectile function
- Decreased morning erections
- Lower urinary tract symptoms
- Emotional disturbances, like depression
Causes Of High Estrogen Levels In Men
Here’s a surprising fact to start things off – the average 60-year-old man has more circulating estrogen in his blood than the average woman of the same age! A number of factors can possibly contribute to a hormonal imbalance due to increased estrogen levels. Here are the main ones:3
1. Increased Fat Content
As you grow old, you lose lean muscle tissue while seeing an increase in fat tissue content. This can also happen because of metabolic disorders like obesity and type-2 diabetes. Fat tissue contains aromatase that converts testosterone to estrogen. It also acts as an estradiol reservoir. Both these factors lead to increased estrogen levels in men.
When you grow old, the amount of aromatase in your body is also high. This enzyme aids the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. This is why older men usually have higher estrogen levels than postmenopausal women.
3. Faulty Feedback In Your Mind
When a man has high estrogen levels in his system, a vicious cycle can develop in his mind whereby his testes get tricked into producing less testosterone. This is because of high estrogen levels that are already present in the body. As a result of this faulty feedback system, men can end up with even higher levels of estrogen, leading to severe estrogen dominance.
4. Testosterone Therapy
If you’ve been treated with an injectable form of testosterone, there’s a very good chance that your system ends up producing more estrogen than usual. Even bioidentical or natural testosterone therapy can lead to high estrogen levels in men, especially when it’s used in excess or in obese men.
5. Meat And Dairy Products
Estrogen hormones, like estradiol, are usually found in foods like meat and dairy products. Therefore, consuming a lot of meat or dairy products can also throw off your hormonal balance entirely.
If you are a man and feel that your male traits are diminishing, hormonal imbalance might be the reason. This is a good time to consult your doctor.