Every adult male should be familiar with his estrogen levels. There are many things that depend on them, like his overall health, his appearance, his emotional well-being, his physical and mental capacity as well as his ability to produce offspring. It is safe to say that even his very life may depend on knowing precisely if his estrogen levels are too high or too low.
A tale of two hormones, testosterone, and estrogen…
Testosterone is what makes a man a man, and estrogen is what makes a woman a woman, however, estrogen is in many aspects just as important to a man’s health as testosterone. And, despite them being regarded as the polar opposites of human sexual development and behavior, on a molecular scale they are very similar.
If you try to merge both molecules into a 3D figure you would find them looking identical except that testosterone would have one extra carbon atom into its molecular structure. And it is precisely in this similarity that we find the reason why some men experience high estrogen levels. Considering that the testosterone molecule is so similar to estrogen, it is extremely easy for various aromatase enzymes to cut off the one extra carbon atom from the molecule and convert it into estrogen.
This is a good thing because as we already explained, you need a certain estrogen level. Not only does it have lots of positive effects on your health, it is also a part of an efficient feedback mechanism where overly high levels of estrogen send an alert signal to the testicles, via the pituitary gland, to reduce the production of testosterone for that particular day.
This way, the feedback mechanism keeps a perfect balance between estrogen and testosterone levels throughout the system. There are instances, however, where too much testosterone is converted into estrogen. This amount added to the small quantities of estrogen already produced in the testes, adrenal glands, brain, and fat has the potential to create a dangerous hormonal situation. The feedback mechanism is also to blame. Estrogen levels stay consistently high and keep sending the signal to reduce the production of testosterone.
There are also many other ways in which your estrogen levels can get too high and even though this is not often discussed, having low estrogen levels can sometimes be even a greater problem than having high levels. In any case, estrogen levels have to be in a certain normal range, neither too high, nor too low, but just right.
What kind of problems can abnormal estrogen levels cause?
When a man allows his estrogen levels to increase, the risk of developing various degenerative diseases increases dramatically, one of the most common being atherosclerosis. The risk of getting a stroke or prostate cancer increases, as well as the risk of developing type II diabetes. One is also more inclined to experience emotional disturbances. Erectile dysfunction occurs, fat gain accelerates, it becomes harder to gain muscle and most importantly, having high estrogen levels significantly increases the risk of premature death.
There was a study made where scientists monitored the estrogen levels of 500 men who experienced chronic heart failure. It was found that the men who had estradiol levels – which is by the way estrogen’s most potent form – in the normal range which is between 21.9 – 30.12 pg/ml, had the fewest deaths in a three-year period. Men who had the highest levels (above 38) had 130% more deaths in that same period. However, those who had the lowest estrogen levels (below 13) had it the worst, since they had 315% more deaths.
It is clear that estrogen levels play a huge role in your heart’s health, in addition to the health of a multitude of other body parts, systems, and functions.
The main symptoms of high estrogen:
Muscle mass loss
Increased abdominal fat
Low libido, possible erectile dysfunction
Increased fat around the nipples
Depression and emotional disturbances
Lower urinary tract symptoms usually associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy
The main symptoms of low estrogen:
Decent erections but weak orgasms
Cracking in the joints or soreness
Tiredness and depression
Possible weakening of the adrenal glands
Low blood pressure
Estrogen level ranges by age
As a man, it is in your best interest to ensure that you are in the estrogen sweet spot, no matter how old you are. It is also very important that you establish a baseline, to which you can refer to and compare and then adjust accordingly.
Below is a list of the average estradiol levels by age, as established by the researchers in a study which appeared in the journal Clinical Endocrinology:
Age 2-29: 28.0 pg/ml
Age 30-39: 25.6 pg/ml
Age 40-49: 24.8 pg/ml
Age 50-59: 22.2 pg/ml
Age 60-69: 21.3 pg/ml
Age 70-80: 21.8 pg/ml
There are only two ways in which you can accurately measure your estrogen levels: either through a 24-hour urine test or a blood test. The latter is easier and less dangerous, but you need to insist that your doctor order a so-called “sensitive” assay. That’s because, by default, most laboratories use the standard assay, the one designed for women.
Additionally, most labs use immunoassay techniques in order to test the blood samples, which when compared to other measuring methods, show a variability rate of up to 52%. This type of inaccuracy may lead a doctor to treat a problem which doesn’t even exist. For example, treat a mean for high estrogen levels when his levels are actually within the normal range, which could potentially lead to grave consequences.
Instead, labs should use Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy, a technique which is a lot more accurate when measuring estrogen levels or hormone levels overall. There’s also another thing that further complicates the issue. Steroid hormone binding globulin aka SHBG also has a role in regulating estrogen levels. SHBG, as its name suggests, binds up a certain amount of hormones, among others, estrogen and testosterone and makes them virtually inaccessible for the organs in your body to use. What’s more, with age, SHBG levels increase and bind up even more hormone, so even though estrogen levels may appear to be within the normal range, the amount of actual “free” estrogen may be too low. In an ideal situation, both estrogen blood levels and SHBF should be in the middle range of normal values so that one can have an accurate estimation of his estrogen levels.
Continues on page 2 -> (what causes high estrogen levels)…
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