What is estrogen?
Estrogen is traditionally considered a female sex hormone but is actually a critical hormone in males too. Just as testosterone, considered a male sex hormone, is also important in females.
The strongest of the three estrogen hormones is called estradiol (also known as oestradiol and E2). Estradiol is especially important for male sexuality and must stay in balance with testosterone to control libido, erectile function, and sperm production (1). See our previous article here for more information about estradiol.
What are the roles of estrogen in males?
Estrogen plays important functions in the:
- Male reproductive system
- Skeletal system
- Skin health
- Nervous system
- Cardiovascular system
What can cause higher estrogen levels?
There are various factors that can contribute to elevated estrogen (2), including:
- Some antibiotics
- Some herbal remedies
- Phenothiazines (used to treat mental health issues)
- Excess body fat
- Some tumors
- Liver disease
What happens if estrogen levels are too high?
The balance between estrogen and testosterone is very important in males. However, as men age, their testosterone naturally decreases. Usually, this doesn’t cause any problems; however, if estrogen levels are abnormally high, this imbalance can cause various symptoms and health risks (2).
The symptoms of high estrogen in males can include:
- Infertility, as high estrogen can slow down sperm production
- Gynecomastia (increased breast tissue)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Ejaculatory dysfunction (premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation)
- Slowed growth (if high estrogen occurs in children and teens)
- Lower sex drive
- Hair loss
- Reduced muscle mass
- Increased body fat (more fat tissue can also increase estrogen so this effect is compounded)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of bone density
Can high estrogen cause any serious health complications?
Higher estrogen levels in males are associated with an increased risk of:
- Thyroid problems
- Blood clots
- Heart attack
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
Are there ways to reduce estrogen?
Lifestyle changes may be all that are required to control estrogen levels. Increased physical activity can help reduce body fat, as well as boost testosterone levels to correct an estrogen: testosterone imbalance. Following a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber is also beneficial. Specific foods to include are broccoli and kale, shiitake and portobello mushrooms, red grapes, and green tea (2).
If lifestyle changes are ineffective, there are also medications available to lower estrogen levels back to within the healthy normal range (2).
How can I check my estrogen levels?
We offer two different tests for males to measure estradiol levels. Estradiol is the strongest of the three estrogen hormones. These tests just require a small blood sample collected from a simple finger prick in the privacy of your own home. Test results are available through our online portal, thereby avoiding the need to make any doctor or lab appointments. Of course, you may also wish to discuss your results with your healthcare professional, and this is highly recommended if you receive any results that fall outside the normal range.
1. Schulster M, et al. (2016) The role of estradiol in male reproductive function. Asian J Androl. 18(3): 435–440.
2. Jewell T (Reviewed by Biggers A) (2019). Risk factors of having high or low estrogen levels in males. Healthline.