Everyone knows that estrogen is important to women’s health, but did you know that estrogen plays a key role in men’s health?
As men reach middle age, the inevitable starts to occur – symptoms of aging set in. These symptoms include changes in sexual function, such as reduced sexual desire and erectile dysfunction, weight gain, and other physical changes. In general, older guys have a hard time keeping up with the younger bucks.
Many doctors think that low testosterone is the culprit when it comes to signs of aging in men – and that’s true – but estrogen is actually key to halting these signs of aging as well.
The Truth About Estrogen In Men
Estrogen is a hormone, which means it works as a chemical messenger to control and coordinate various functions throughout the body. Hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, control the function of organs to affect growth and development, reproduction, and sexual characteristics. Some hormones affect one or two organs, while other hormones influence several organs throughout the body. Even small amounts of hormones can cause big effects.
As teenagers, men have high levels of testosterone and high levels of estrogen. Women have high levels of estrogen and moderate levels of testosterone. These sex hormones help men and women develop sex organs and reproduce. The hormones also give men “manly” and women “womanly” body shapes and other physical characteristics.
As men and women age, though, the levels of some hormones tend to drop while the levels of others rise. Aging men often have lower levels of testosterone and higher levels of estrogen, for example. In fact, high levels of estrogen in aging men usually correspond with low levels of testosterone. This is because they are making estrogen in their fat cells, so this is especially true of overweight and obese men.
Hormones also influence the level of other hormones to change hormonal balance in the body. In some cases, the body actually uses one hormone to make another. More about that later. First, let’s talk about the symptoms of aging and the role hormones play in those symptoms.
The Hormonal Balancing Act of Male Aging
The male body makes testosterone in the testes. Testosterone circulates to affect every cell of the male body, improving muscle mass and bone density, and has a positive effect on the brain, heart, and blood vessels. While men need testosterone, they also need estrogen for good health.
Estrogen is actually a “family” of hormones that include estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Each does different jobs in the body, and the body contains different levels of the various estrogens. Estradiol is the most predominant estrogen in the body.
In men, estradiol is important to libido and plays a role in erectile dysfunction and the production of sperm. Research shows that while both estradiol and testosterone tend to decline with age in all men, the levels of these hormones vary substantially between men.
Low estradiol is associated with health problems in men. However, men with diabetes tend to have higher estrogen levels, and higher estrogen levels may correlate with heart attacks. While these facts seem to oppose each other, it’s because the estrogen in obese men comes from a different place than the estrogen in healthy, fit men.
Women make estrogen in their ovaries, but men don’t have ovaries, so they have to make estrogen another way. Believe it or not, men make estrogen from testosterone! The use an enzyme called aromatase to convert testosterone to estrogen. Using testosterone to produce estrogen is the “healthy” way to make estrogen, or more specifically, estradiol.
The body also makes estrogen in the liver, muscles, brain, and fat cells. The production of estrogen in fat cells is of special concern because obesity rates are rising dramatically. Men are at greater risk of becoming obese, and this excess weight puts them at greater risk for high estrogen made in fat cells. When estrogen comes from fat, it’s not healthy. It is associated with low testosterone levels, and sets up an unhealthy scenario for men.
Overweight and obese men typically have low testosterone and high estrogen (from fat cells) – an unhealthy scenario. Healthy men typically have healthy testosterone levels and higher estradiol levels (from conversion from testosterone) – a healthy scenario.
Some practitioners try to correct hormonal imbalances by simply blocking estrogen. Not the right approach! If we are supplementing men with testosterone, we should let estradiol levels rise along with their testosterone, since in basically every study where men are given estradiol, their health outcomes are better.
In men of healthy weight, estrogen protects the body against coronary artery disease (CAD), diabetes, prostate problems, and other health issues. This is not true in obese men, though, when their estrogen is coming from fat cells. In obese men, estrogen contributes to symptoms, such as gynecomastia (enlarged breasts or “man boobs”). High estrogen levels in obese men is associated with prostate cancer and heart disease.
Low estrogen levels cause problems. It is a well-known fact that low estrogen levels can cause osteoporosis in women, for example. Estrogen deficiency, particularly low estradiol levels, may be a cause of osteoporosis in men, too. In fact, research shows that men with osteoporosis are more likely to have low testosterone and estradiol levels.
How Your Doctor Can Help
Doctors can help their male patients preserve estradiol with testosterone injections. Testosterone supplementation naturally increases estrogen levels, due to the enzyme aromatase. This gives the male body enough testosterone to convert to estradiol without causing testosterone deficiency. It also helps keep hormones at proper levels and in balance with each other.
Prescribing the right levels of hormone supplementation can keep hormones in balance. Monitoring hormone levels is essential, as these levels can change with age.
The good news is that The Carragher Method can help you overcome the natural consequences of decreased hormones that lead to symptoms of male aging. This scientifically-based approach to aging focuses on making every effort to slow the process of degeneration of the male body that comes with aging.
Free Quiz: Are You At Risk For Hormone Decline?
Want to find out if you’re at risk for hormone decline? First, take our scientifically based hormone decline risk assessment – completely free (takes no more than 5 minutes).
After completing it, you will find out your risk level for hormone decline and, most importantly, how to proceed with beating your symptoms. Click here to take the male version, and click here to take the female version.
Then, if you’re interested in learning more about our comprehensive Age Management & Hormone Optimization program, contact us through this form to schedule your free consultation, or call us at 323-874-9355.