Testosterone and Estrogen
Much of this site focuses on ways to increase testosterone. But this emphasis on
testosterone can be somewhat misleading for some men, because it implies that
testosterone is the only hormone in any of the problems they might be
In reality, there is another major player, especially for overweight, middle-aged
and steroid-using guys.
In fact, it is interesting that some middle aged and beyond males have normal
testosterone yet they have most of the symptoms of
andropause or low
testosterone. How can this happen? Because, more often than not,
males with normal testosterone and andropause symptoms have overly high estrogen
levels. The reason is simply that it is the ratio of testosterone to
estrogen that is ultra-critical for us guys and so increased estrogen can be
just as physiologically negative for us as low testosterone.
Testosterone, Estrogen and Aging
It may surprise you to know that testosterone and estrogen are actually
chemically very similar: they differ by only a carbonyl and a methyl group.
But, oh, what a difference a subtle chemical alteration can make!
Testosterone is responsible in us guys for a bigger larynx, thicker hair shafts, larger
organs, augmented bone density and other traits that differentiate us from
members of the fairer sex. In contrast, estrogen in females leads to breast
development and enlargement, less body hair and a more nurturing attitude.
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The problem for us males is that increasing estrogen can lead to decreased
libido and erectile strength. In other words, too much estrogen can
literally turn you into a girly man and take your sexual legs right out from
under you. As you may know, estrogens are even associated with the "man
boobs" that you see many overweight, middle aged guys struggling with. Yes, you have
got to get estrogen under control!
So why do estrogen levels increase with age? Researchers have observed is that, in general, adipose fat levels increase with
aging while muscle mass decreases.
 As we have mentioned elsewhere, this
increase in fat tissue results in increasing tissue levels of aromatase which
converts testosterone to estrogen. In fact, this conversion of
testosterone is the only reason we males have any estrogen. But this
increased conversion to estrogen leaves us with less testosterone which decrease
our muscle mass which makes it easier for us to gain weight and on and on the
NOTE: This is yet another reason why exercise is even more critical
as we age: it preserves (or even builds) muscle mass and burns off fat at the same time.
So notice that one of the ugly facts of middle age is this rise of aromatase
leads to a simultaneous decrease in testosterone and increase in estrogen.
The sword cuts both ways one might say. Woe is us because we are simultaneously stripped of our primary male hormone and
injected with the primary female hormone. And that means both numerator and
denominator move in the wrong direction in the all important ratio of testosterone/estrogen.
This, by the way, leads to a perilous tissue accumulation of estrogen.
Researcher have discovered this in the prostate. 
In fact, that same study concluded that "the prostatic accumulation of DHT,
estradiol, and estrone is in part intimately correlated with aging".
Estradiol and estrone are two forms of estrogen, neither of which do you want
accumulating in your tissues. In other words, male menopause or andropause is as
much about estrogen as it is about testosterone.
I should mention, though, that some estrogen is essential for bone health.
In fact, one of the major issues that low testosterone males can have is also having low estrogen
estrogen is made from testosterone). Low estrogen, at least in the
long term, will
actually lead to osteoporosis which is yet another reason to keep your testosterone up
through HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy).
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repair the veins and artieries to your penis? Then check out the
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you how to dramatically improve your erectile strength.
Estrogen: Side Effects
That said, we males only need small and youthful amounts of estrogen for
The overabundance of estrogen in middle and old age is simply a bad dream. Here
are just a few of the nasty things estrogen can do to us:
- Decrease testosterone production. (It binds to testosterone receptors in the brain that signal for the body to produce more testosterone.)
- When estrogen binds to an androgen receptor it does not activate that receptor.
Testosterone, of course, activates testosterone receptors so they do what they
are supposed to do. Estrogen leaves them inert and lifeless.
- Displaces testosterone in androgen receptors throughout the body.
Your free testosterone is basically "all dressed up with nowhere to go".
- Perhaps worst of all, high estrogen levels causes your body to make fewer and
fewer androgen receptors. This is bad, very bad.
- In males, increased estrogen is associated with increased blood clotting, narrowing of the arteries and heart disease.
- It increases SHBG, the protein that binds to testosterone. This decreases free, “bioavailable” testosterone that is usuable by the body.
NOTE: You should also read my section on
Free Testosterone. Losing Free Testosterone
is a very serious issue for us males.
- The erectile muscles at the base of the penis are packed with testosterone
receptors. As testosterone decreases and estrogen displaces testosterone, these
muscles slowly atrophy leading to erectile difficulties.
- Estrogen is increasingly associated with
long term prostate issues including cancer.
So how can you keep the female hormone in check? Read my links on How to
Control Estrogen. You should also ehck out How to Increase Your Estrogen (Estradiol) Levels
as well for some of the good, bad and ugly things that can increase T and E2.
2) Medical Hypotheses, Jun 2001, 56(6):702-708, "Aromatase, adiposity, aging
and disease. The hypogonadal-metabolic-atherogenic-disease and aging connection"
12) J Clin Endocrin Metab, 1993, 77: 375-381, "Effect of aging on endogenous
levels of 5-alpha-dihydrotestosterone, testosterone, estradiol and estrone in
epithelium and stroma of normal and hyperplastic human prostate"