Estrogen, the so-called female hormone plays an important in men’s health, too, just as testosterone plays an important role in the health of women. It’s been known that men need a certain amount of estrogen for bone health, but a recent study suggests that low estrogen may contribute to some the symptoms of male menopause. As men don’t menstruate, some physicians prefer to use the term andropause to describe the male counterpart of menopause.
In men, most estrogen is produced from the conversion of testosterone into estrogen through a process called aromatization. So if testosterone levels are low in a male estrogen levels are also typically low. It now appears from the results of a recent study that some of the symptoms associated with low testosterone may be more related to low estrogen that comes along with low T.
Study on Low Estrogen in Men
A recent study involved 400 healthy males ages 20-50 who were given a drug to decrease their testosterone levels to pre-puberty levels. Half of the men also received an aromatize inhibitor to prevent the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. Some men received testosterone gel and some received a placebo gel. Designing the study this way the researchers were able to measure the effects of various levels of testosterone and estrogen on muscle strength, body composition, and sex drive. The study lasted 16 weeks.
Here’s what the researchers found. Muscle strength was determined by testosterone levels while body fat was determined by estrogen. Estrogen and testosterone were both important in determing sex drive and sexual performance.
The study is interesting in attributing the importance of testosterone and estrogen on body composition, muscle strength, and sexual drive and performance, but the findings really do not change the management of sex hormones in men as the typical way to treat low estrogen in men is to increase testosterone levels
Safe Estrogen Levels
Estogen levels in men are largely determined by the estradiol level as it is in women. Estradiol levels of 20 pg/ml to 40 pg/ml in men are considered optimal. Sometimes too much testosterone gets converted to estradiol and this can lead to enlarged breast in men and breast or nipple tenderness. Thus, men receiving testosterone replacement need to be periodically monitored for excess estrogen levels related to testosterone treatment.