If you’re an average guy, you probably have some knowledge about the impact of testosterone on your health and well-being. Estrogen? That’s for women to worry about, right?
Not so much. In fact, we find many of our man boob patients have just a vague understanding about the role estrogen might have on their condition, and often a few questions about what could be going on with their hormone levels.
We’d like to offer an overview of estrogen in men in hopes of giving you a sense of the importance of this hormone and an appreciation for the delicate work of your body’s endocrine system. Here are some things to know.
• Estrogen is important for men as well as women
While testosterone is the predominant sex hormone for men, estrogen is essential for a healthy sex drive, normal sperm counts and erectile function. It’s also key to the health of your bones and skin, and it has an important role in controlling cholesterol.
• Men’s bodies produce estrogen through a process
Most estrogen found in men is the product of the body converting testosterone into estrogen. Aromatase, an enzyme, causes this breakdown, and the process is referred to in medicine as “aromatization.”
Without an understanding of the aromatization process, you could be like some of our man boobs patients who are surprised that taking testosterone supplements, steroids and related products can cause breast growth. Some of our Boca Raton patients find it counterintuitive at first, but our thirty years of experience in male breast reduction confirms it’s not. The body aromatizes excess testosterone, and the resulting estrogen finds receptors in the breasts. Presto! Moobs!
• Low or high levels of estrogen can happen
It’s not terribly unusual for a man to experience estrogen levels that are lower or higher than normal. Low levels can be caused by hypogonadism—a condition in which the testicles produce insufficient levels of testosterone. According to the Boston University School of Medicine, millions of men in the U.S. are affected. There are many other causes as well, including diseases and syndromes, liver or kidney issues, obesity and more.
Higher than average levels of estrogen can result from certain medications and health conditions. Healthline has an easy-to-understand article covering estrogen in men here.
• An imbalance can cause problems
If you’re with us so far, you’ll understand that high levels of estrogen in guys can certainly trigger man boobs. Our body builder patients who have experimented with steroids are one group of men who often come to realize this too late. Problems with sexual function are typical too, up to and including infertility. In addition, fatigue, reduced bone and muscle mass, hair loss and other issues can occur.
Low estrogen is often not a problem for men, says Healthline. But if hypogonadism is the root of lower than normal hormone production, men can experience similar symptoms whether estrogen is too high or too low.
• You can protect your endocrine system and hormone levels
The very first piece of advice we give our patients about hormones, whether they visit us for man boob treatment or another procedure, is don’t mess with them! The endocrine system is called a system for a reason: the body parts involved and the hormones they produce work together in a delicate, finely-tuned dance to keep you healthy. If you suspect something might be amiss, visit your primary care doctor and discuss whether a referral to an endocrinologist might be in order.
Other steps you can take to support normal hormone production are the same strategies you should be pursuing for general health: watch your diet and get plenty of exercise.
A diet high in fiber and low in fat is helpful. Specific foods to include that help control estrogen are cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli), red grapes, certain seeds and others. The Healthline article we’ve referred to has a list; it also recommends a mix of cardio and strength training, as do other sources aimed at helping women manage estrogen levels after menopause.
The human body is an amazing organism, and the endocrine system is one of its wonders. The more you learn about the variety of hormones your body produces and the way they orchestrate nearly every internal process necessary for your health, the more you’ll respect and admire this key component of your well-being.
If you’re facing a case of gynecomastia and you don’t believe hormone issues are a factor, that’s perfectly fine. We treat many cases of man boobs that appear “idiopathic,” meaning they have no known cause. If you’re not sure whether low or high estrogen levels may be at play, that’s ok too. Call us for an appointment at 561-367-9101 and we’ll evaluate your situation. If we feel a visit to an endocrinologist is indicated, we’ll let you know.
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Reach out to Dr. Jacobs today to schedule your consultation!