High estrogen may shock the men who are diagnosed with it. After all, estrogen is a hormone primarily related to women.
Yet, men also need estrogen to perform sexually and develop at an early age - but it’s only healthy when balanced with testosterone.
When these two hormones become unbalanced - particularly in the case of high estrogen - men experience a range of health issues.
From increased body fat and anxiety to decreased fertility, it’s in your best interests to keep your estrogen levels balanced. In this article, you’ll learn how to spot estrogen dominance symptoms in men and how to effectively treat this issue.
High Estrogen in Men
Estrogen is a hormone that helps the female body develop during puberty, and, together with progesterone, supports the menstrual cycle during a woman’s child-bearing years.
However, estrogen doesn’t just contribute to reproduction, but also to the maintenance of the heart, blood vessels, hair, mucous membranes, blood sugar, sleep cycles, and brain.
So, you may be wondering: do men have estrogen? The answer is that they do.
In men, estrogen occurs in lesser amounts — but it’s still present in the form of estradiol (one of the three types of estrogen). This always surprises people who think that testosterone is the sole sex hormone in biological males.
Certainly, that’s true — there are higher levels of testosterone in biological males than in females, making it the primary sex hormone in men.
And testosterone is the key hormone that, like estrogen in women, controls changes during puberty, including body growth, facial hair growth, voice changes, sperm production, and the development of the sexual organs.
However, men’s bodies, like women’s, need an optimal hormone balance between testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen to function well. When these hormone levels are thrown off balance, chaos ensues.
High estrogen in men comes with a host of health complications, which we’ll explore below.
For now, you should keep in mind that it’s not just about levels of estrogen but also the right levels at the right time. Into and after their 40s, the level of testosterone in men naturally decreases. At this point, estrogen levels might stay the same.
However, if estrogen levels are high at the time that testosterone levels drop, aging males might experience the negative effects of estrogen that could otherwise be avoided or, at the very least, offset.
What Causes Men to Have High Estrogen?
Besides aging, let’s take a look at what causes high estrogen in men:
- A rise in aromatase enzyme — Aromatase is the enzyme that converts androgens, a group of hormones, into testosterone and estrogen. However, certain lifestyle choices, like alcohol consumption and smoking, or physical issues like obesity, can increase the activity of this enzyme. When the aromatase enzyme increases due to these factors, it spikes estrogen levels in men.
- Diet — A diet high in refined carbohydrates disrupts the body’s ability to use fat for energy. Instead, your body stores fat, which then increases estrogen levels. The process of fat storage and estrogen production becomes like a cycle. The greater the number of fat deposits, the more estrogen levels rise.
- Stress — The connection between estrogen and stress comes down to the stress hormone, cortisol. In men, high levels of cortisol suppress other key hormones like testosterone. As testosterone drops, estrogen levels rise.
- Xenoestrogens — Xenoestrogens are synthetic chemicals that act as hormones and are found quite easily in plastics, beauty products, personal care products, and even mattresses. Xenoestrogens can increase the production of estrogen in both males and females.
10 Symptoms of High Estrogen in Males
Some of the symptoms of high estrogen in males appear as natural symptoms of aging. Issues like weight gain and even osteoporosis can have other sources.
However, if you’re experiencing more than one of these symptoms at the same time, then you might have high estrogen levels in your body.
Infertility is not the most common symptom of high estrogen in males, but that’s because infertility in men could relate to a host of other issues like stress, genetic conditions, or health problems like diabetes.
However, high levels of estrogen can throw off men’s testosterone balance. This causes sperm levels to drop and leads to fertility issues when you’re trying to conceive.
#2. Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction may come for the same reasons that men with high estrogen levels experience infertility. Getting or maintaining an erection depends on maintaining adequate levels of testosterone.
However, studies show that elevated estradiol levels (a form of estrogen) inhibit how quickly and how long a male can hold an erection.
Just like in women, high levels of estrogen can disrupt the body’s production of melatonin. This affects sleep cycles, and can also cause related issues like depression, anxiety, adrenal fatigue, and mood swings.
#4. Persistent Fatigue
Conversely, high estrogen in men can also cause persistent fatigue. There are two different sources of fatigue in men with high estrogen. The first comes from insomnia, as mentioned above.
The second is related to fat deposits. Since estrogen increases fat, this could lead to an issue with insulin resistance. These metabolic abnormalities make it harder for the body to feel energized and motivated enough to exercise.
However, a sedentary lifestyle compounds the fatigue and lethargy you’ll feel, so the whole process becomes a vicious cycle that’s hard to break out of.
#5. Water Retention
Water retention is another side-effect of high estrogen in men. It can show up anywhere on your body, especially as puffiness around the face. This particular issue is known as “moon face,” and it can look like you’ve gained quite a bit of weight around the face.
However, you can retain water almost everywhere on your body, particularly on your belly.
#6. Excessive Sweating
Excessive sweating, particularly in the form of night sweats, occurs because of hormonal imbalances.
When men have low testosterone levels, the resulting high levels of estrogen cause excessive sweating in the same way that menopausal women experience night sweats and hot flashes during the night.
#7. Low Bone Density (Osteoporosis)
Many men are at risk of osteoporosis as they age because of declining testosterone levels. However, men with high estrogen levels are equally likely to develop low bone density early on in their lives.
#8. Pulmonary Hypertension
Also known as a type of high blood pressure, pulmonary hypertension occurs when the blood vessels leading to the lungs develop an increased amount of muscle in the blood vessel walls.
Studies show that high estrogen in men could be connected to the development of this condition.
#9. Prostate Cancer
In women, high estrogen levels can point to the development of brain and ovarian cancers. In men, the effects are similar. Specifically, researchers have found that high estrogen in men “may play a causative role in human prostate cancer.”
Gynecomastia is the scientific term for the enlargement or swelling of tissue around a male’s pectoral muscles. When estrogen levels are too high — or out of balance with testosterone levels in the body — men can develop the dreaded “saggy breast” syndrome.
How to Treat High Estrogen Levels in Men
There are quite a few ways to treat high estrogen levels in men — some are medical while others consist of natural ways or lifestyle changes that you can make to decrease estrogen.
Medical treatment options are often more instantaneous than natural changes you can make. However, these treatment options also come with side effects. You may still need to rely on natural treatment options to manage high estrogen levels long-term.
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Treatment Options for High Estrogen In Men
- Pharmaceutical estrogen blockers — Prescription estrogen blockers, such as Clomid, can block high amounts of estrogen in the male body.
- SERMs — Known as selective estrogen receptor modulators, SERMs are another kind of medication used for breast cancer treatment. However, they can also be prescribed to block high estrogen in men.
- Aromatase enzyme inhibitors — Since aromatase enzymes play a role in hormone production, you can use aromatase inhibitors like anastrozole or exemestane.
Natural Treatment Options for High Estrogen in Men
There are several natural treatment options for high estrogen in men. They include:
- Start with supplements — One of the best hormone balance supplements you can take for high estrogen levels is organic maca. Maca is a well known natural energizer and aphrodisiac that helps promote energy, vigor, and focus. But more importantly, it is a known estrogen blocker.
- Improve your diet — One of the most effective ways to lower estrogen levels naturally is to address your diet. Just like you can implement a diet that supports your adrenals, you can also incorporate foods that naturally lower your estrogen. This includes cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and broccoli, shiitake and portobello mushrooms, and red grapes. These foods contain compounds like phytochemicals and natural estrogen blockers like resveratrol and proanthocyanidin. You can also incorporate sesame seeds, flaxseeds, and oats, which contain polyphenols. Research has shown that polyphenols have a positive future in preventing prostate diseases.
- Cut out toxic products — Toxic products include any personal care or grooming products that contain parabens, sulfates, phthalates, xenoestrogens, and formaldehyde. Make sure to read labels carefully and match these to the CDC’s list of hormone-disrupting chemicals.
- Devise an exercise program — A big part of improving your diet is through exercising. In both males and females, exercise lowers the percentage of “white” fat storage, which balances blood sugar levels and lowers cortisol. Specifically, exercises you should focus on include cardio-based circuit training and stress-lowering exercises like yoga.
The symptoms of high estrogen in men are easy enough to spot if you know what you’re looking for. They include persistent issues like:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Persistent fatigue
- Low bone density
- Excessive sweating
- Water retention
By following our advice for natural treatments, you’ll be able to rebalance testosterone and estrogen.