Testosterone… One word, a thousand thoughts. For years now, this hormone has become the center of attention for men worldwide mainly because it’s linked to everything guy-related, from boosting libido to enhancing muscle gains. No wonder testosterone is known as the ultimate “male hormone.”
However, as we idolized T, we unintentionally turned our backs on other equally essential hormones, including the much-needed estrogens. Heck, we even demonized them at times, blaming them for everything that went wrong with our training regimen and the like. But, here’s the twist. The male body NEEDS estrogens as much as it needs testosterone.
So, do men have estrogen? Of course, they do, and here are the scientific reasons why we wouldn’t and shouldn’t have it any other way.
Testosterone and Estrogens – The Need-to-Know
Testosterone is a hormone that plays a vital role in the sexual and reproductive development of both men and women. In fact, both sexes can produce testosterone naturally; it’s just that men tend to have higher concentrations of the hormone than women. As a result, testosterone’s effects are more evident on a guy’s body.
Testosterone is also part of a class of male hormones, commonly known as androgens. These hormones act as anabolic steroids and are mainly produced in the testes. That’s why women get the short end of the stick. They are also responsible for triggering various male-centered functions, including hair growth during puberty, voice deepening, increased libido and much more.
On the flip side, estrogens (estradiol, estrone, and estriol) are classified as the primary female sex hormones. That occurs because these hormones are involved in a number of occasions like menstruation, pregnancy, and lactation which -let’s be honest- are female by nature.
Testosterone, Estrogens, and Aromatase
Just because estrogens cue certain female-oriented functions, it doesn’t mean that men can’t and shouldn’t produce them as well. In fact, one recent study proves that the male body is perfectly capable of generating and dealing with considerable amounts of estrogens as it is abundant in the enzyme aromatase and countless estrogen receptors.
Aromatase is a key enzyme in estrogen biosynthesis as it converts testosterone into estrogens. Contrary to popular belief, this conversion doesn’t just take place in the gonads but also other parts of the male body such as the brain, muscle, fat tissue, bones and much more. Long story short, the male body is inherently designed to produce estrogen with a little help from testosterone.
Estrogens and Libido in Men
According to research, estradiol, which is the predominant form of estrogen, plays a huge role in several male functions, including libido. Specifically, the so-called female hormone modulates sexual behavior in adult men by inhibiting a bunch of chemical reactions which can potentially kill your sex drive.
Experts also suggest that high levels of estrogens in men with either low or absent testosterone (perhaps due to castration or androgen blockage) can sustain libido. That’s another clear sign that a balanced testosterone-to-estrogen ratio promotes a guy’s sexual desire, no matter what.
Estrogens and Spermatogenesis
Even though testosterone is considered the most important male sex hormone, studies prove that estrogens also play a critical role in spermatogenesis. That said, an abnormal T/E ratio is likely to result in various side effects, from decreased sperm concentration and motility to infertility.
What’s the Average Estrogen Levels in Men?
Much like testosterone, estrogens levels in men depend on a variety of factors such as age, physical activity, weight, nutrition patterns, etc. That’s why there’s not a single right answer to this question. However, most experts recommend you keep your estrogen levels between 10 and 40 picograms per milliliter of blood.
Decreased Estrogens and the Male Body
As you see, estrogens are an essential part of a guy’s reproductive system. However, as men get older, they tend to produce less testosterone which means that they end up producing fewer estrogens as well. What happens, though, when the T/E ratio favors the male hormone?
According to one study, men who have healthy testosterone levels but don’t produce enough estrogens are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction, a diminished sex drive and never-seen-before increase in body fat.
Not only that, but they are also subject to the bone-resorbing effects of the parathyroid hormone. That means that chronically low estrogens levels tend to mess up with a guy’s skeletal homeostasis, reducing bone density and making you susceptible to osteoporosis.
Increased Estrogens and the Male Body
Ever heard of “andropause”? As men hit 30, their body is naturally starting to decline. One of these declining symptoms is that they tend to produce less testosterone. However, as T levels fall into dismay, estrogens levels find room to grow. That means that the T/E ratio is all kinds of messed up, promoting estrogens’ effects which are not always compatible with a guy’s fundamental functions.
So, as the “female” hormones outweigh the “male,” your body is exposed to menopause-like symptoms such as weight gain, low libido, mood changes, disrupt sleeping patterns, gynecomastia (man boobs) and most importantly, erectile dysfunction.
So, do men have estrogen? You bet your testosterone, they do! In fact, estrogens and testosterone have a co-dependency thing going on which can take a turn for the worse when one of the two decides to take over. So, your job is to make sure both of these hormones get along without one trampling the other or the results will be less than pleasant.