Do Men Need Estrogen?
Do men need estrogen?
The truth is that you need estrogen almost as much as the woman
in your life needs testosterone."
And she needs testosterone - believe me. It contributes greatly to her
mood, libido, weight maintenance and insulin control just for
starters. Of course, if she gets too much, it can cause her issues - just
read about what happens to most women with PCOS.
Estrogen is analagous in many ways for males.
We all know that overly high estrogen levels will likely lead to prostate
cancer, andropause and loss of erectile strength and libido. You can read my
links on The Dangers of Estrogen for more details.
At the same time we very much need some estrogen for certain critical health
So just how does estrogen fall too low in males? The primary way is
in senior males with long term andropause. The typical pattern for an
aging male is that his testosterone slowly declines by a percent or two per year
after about his early to mid 20's. This decline in testosterone leads to slow weight gain, which in turn leads to increased
estrogen levels due to the additional aromatization of testosterone from extra body
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However, as the years go by, it is quite common for testosterone levels to
low that even with the increased aromatization rates, a man can find that his
estrogen falls to dangerously low levels. Thus, one could generalize and
say that elevated estrogen is a middle-aged man's nightmare and decreased
estrogen a senior man's.
NOTE: Estrogen actually has several different subforms. The most
"dangerous" estrogen is E2, or estradiol. Typically, when one is talking about
estrogen, this is the form being referred to. Sister molecules are estrone (E1)
and estrial (E3).
Here are three key ways showing how badly men need adequate estrogen levels and
how low estrogen can endanger a man's career, relationships and health:
1. Bone Maintenance. Estrogen is
critically important for brain function, even in the men. Researchers have found
that it is important for verbal memory in particular.  Estrogen is also
essential for the growth of new neuronal connections and neuron maintenance.  Yes,
testosterone has a profound effect on the male brain, but adequate estrogen is
no less important.
2. Erectile Dysfunction. Results are preliminary, but it is clear
that estrogen in males actually plays a significant role in nitric
oxide production.  Of course, it is no secret that testosterone
stimulates nitric oxide, but researchers were suprised to find that in
men there were critical estrogen receptors that stimulate eNOS as well.
Therefore, it may be almost as
important to check estrogen levels as testosterone in aging males.
3. Verbal Memory and Brain Function. Estrogen is
critically important for brain function, even in the men. Researchers
have found that it is important for verbal memory in particular.  Estrogen
is also essential for the growth of new neuronal connections and neuron maintenance. 
Yes, testosterone has a profound effect on the male brain,
but adequate estrogen is no less important.
4. HDL. Estradiol increases HDL and so it stands to reason that low estradiol levels could lead to low HDL levels as well. See my page on Estradiol and HDL
for additional information.
Many experts emphasize that the criticality of the ratio of testeosterone to estrogen.
For more information, read my link on The Testosterone-to-Estrogen Ratio,
where I discuss how it changes over the years and even how Cialis can affect it
in a positive way.
CAUTION: I had one extremely fit and athletic young man write in
who was taking a variety of supplements and foods that decreased testosterone's
aromatization to estrogen. This included zinc supplementation and green
tea extracts (EGCG). His claim was that, because he was so thin and had very low
body fat, that his estrogen was likely too low and leading to a variety of
health issues. It may be something to consider for the young and fit.
1) Arch Intern Med, 2008, 168(1):47-54, "Endogenous Sex Hormones and Incident Fracture Risk in Older Me: The Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study"
4) Med Sci Monit. 2003 Mar;9(3):RA63-8, "The nongenomic protective effects
of estrogen on the male cardiovascular system: clinical and therapeutic
implications in aging men"