When you hear the word estrogen the first words that may come to mind are woman, female, and menstrual cycle. This is because estrogen has been made out to be the female hormone, but have you ever stopped to think about estrogen in men? Do men have estrogen? If so, what does it do? What happens if there is too much? Or if there is too little estrogen? All of this and more will be covered in this article so that you can know everything you can about estrogen in men.
Do Men Have Estrogen?
First off, do men even have estrogen?
While estrogen is namely a “women’s hormone” it actually is present in men as well.
Men have much lower levels of estrogen than women do, but they do have some. Estrogen in men is created in a few places in the body. Most of the estrogen is made in the testicles, from the Leydig cells and Sertoli cells. However, there are other glands in the body that produce very small amounts of estrogen including the adrenal glands that sit on top of each kidney.
Even though the levels of estrogen are smaller in men, it still plays an important part in the health and well being of men.
What Does Estrogen Do in Men?
The role of estrogen in men includes many systems of the body.
To begin, the reproductive system is impacted by estrogen in men. Estrogen helps the body to regulate the production of sperm and helps men to stay fertile. It also plays a role in sexual arousal.
Estrogen also impacts the mind and can help with concentration, mood, energy level, and temperature control.
In addition to these roles, estrogen also plays a large role in growth, bone health, and more. Because all of these functions are so important to someone functioning at their best, it is important that the estrogen levels are balanced to prevent any future issues and address any that are currently happening.
When Should You See a Doctor?
When you should see a doctor is very individual. What you go to the doctor for is not the same as when your brother or neighbor would. Generally, if you are feeling out of sorts or notice anything that is abnormal to you it is probably a good idea to check in with your doctor. If you do not want to take the plunge of going in right away, you could always call in to get a second opinion before making an appointment. In addition, it is always a good idea to go in for an annual physical at least once a year to make sure that everything is going alright and if it’s not you can catch it early.
What Type of Doctor Can Help?
If a man suspected that there was an issue with their hormones in general or specifically estrogen there are a few options for which doctor they could see. A visit to the primary care doctor is usually the first step in all cases, unless there is already a relationship with a specialist. A primary care provider can help to assess if there is a hormone imbalance and if something needs to be done from there. Either the primary care provider can continue on with treatment or they can make a referral.
A referral to an endocrinologist, or hormone doctor, is one option. An endocrinologist is specialized in hormones and glands so they have extensive experience in hormone replacement therapy and techniques to reduce hormone levels as well. One down side to these doctors is that they can be expensive and can be difficult to schedule an appointment with.
The other option for a referral is Elite HRT. Elite HRT offers in person and telemedicine visits with specialized health care providers to create a personalized hormone treatment plan. Elite HRT only focuses on hormone replacement therapy and nutraceuticals so we know how to make effective and safe treatments for our patients. We will assess the labs done by your healthcare provider to gather the best information to help you on your journey to the best quality of life possible.
How Can You Test Your Estrogen Levels?
Before you can decide on if a treatment is needed or what type of treatment to do an estrogen hormone level test is needed. There are multiple ways to test for estrogen levels and which one is ordered depends on the healthcare provider that orders it.
The first option for testing is a urine test. You could either collect urine into a cup over a period of 24 hours or you could collect urine onto a piece of filter paper that dries and is sent into the lab. This method is nice because it is easy to follow the directions, can be done in the office or at home, and is non-invasive.
The second option is a saliva test where you simply spit into a test tube.
The third option is a blood test where blood is drawn by a healthcare worker and sent to the lab for testing.
Each test has its own pros and cons that your healthcare provider will weigh for you.
What If There is Too Much Estrogen?
If you are experiencing high levels of estrogen there could be a number of things that could be causing this. Certain medications like some antibiotics, increasing age, stress, high body fat, tumors, and disease of the glands in the body can raise estrogen levels. Some things you may notice with high estrogen in men are low libido, erectile dysfunction, breast development, hair loss on the body, reduced muscle size, weakening bones, and brain fog. All of these symptoms can occur when a man has high levels of estrogen in the body. Luckily, these are all things that can likely be taken care of with the proper treatment.
Treatments for High Estrogen in Men
The treatment for high estrogen depends on what the cause is. For example, if the cause is a medication, then your doctor can try to adjust the dose or medication so that the estrogen levels decrease. If high body fat concentration is contributing, a weight loss program could be helpful. Additionally, removal of a tumor or addressing the source with available treatments to reduce the estrogen production is helpful as well. Finally, if the increase in reduction is related to stress, stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, or guided imagery could be of assistance.
There are also medications called aromatase inhibitors that prevent the process of testosterone turning into estrogen from occurring. By preventing this transformation from occurring there should be a reduction in estrogen levels. This is especially helpful when the increase in estrogen is a result of aging. There may even be a complementary treatment with testosterone to offset the extra estrogen.
What If There is Too Little Estrogen?
On the other hand it is possible to have too low of estrogen, although this is usually less of a problem. This can happen in people with hypogonadism or a condition where a male does not produce enough hormone for growth and development. Damage to the testicles from traumatic injury, infection, radiation, or surgery could impact estrogen levels. A lack of vitamins and minerals, tumors, pituitary gland injury, and more can cause low levels of estrogen.
If low levels of estrogen occur the symptoms are usually minimal, but can actually present similarly to the symptoms of high estrogen including low bone density, low libido, and others. Even though low estrogen in men is not super impactful, it could also accompany low levels of other hormones such as testosterone that could have large implications.
Treatments for Low Estrogen in Men
Again, treatments for low estrogen in men generally depend on the cause. If the cause is related to a structural defect or infection, efforts are taken to correct and treat the underlying cause. Also, it is not typical to do hormone replacement therapy of estrogen in a male patient. However, if there was a significant problem with the low levels of estrogen, a doctor may prescribe a low dose of estrogen hormone replacement therapy.
Even though estrogen in men is not talked about frequently, it is an important topic to consider. It plays an important role in the functioning of men’s bodies and should be taken seriously. If you are concerned about your estrogen levels, make sure to reach out to your healthcare provider to get tested for hormone levels and see if anything can be done.