Estrogens in men

Dr. Angel Cunill

Clinical Andrology Madrid

The estrogens are the main group of female sex hormones. Among other functions, they are responsible for the development of the reproductive system of secondary sexual characteristics and regulation of the menstrual cycle in women. They are synthesized primarily in the ovaries and the placenta. Also in the adrenal glands, both men and women, although in much smaller quantities.

Chemically, estrogens are steroid hormones derived from cholesterol. From cholesterol male sex hormones are synthesized, and from these estrogens. Aromatase converts testosterone into estradiol.

The three major estrogens are:

Estradiol : the aromatase enzyme obtained from the testosterone.

Estrone : the aromatase enzyme obtained from progesterone.

Estriol : the aromatase enzyme obtained from androsterone.

Testosterone is the most common precursor hormone estrogen in the human being who is estradiol. This is a most abundant hormone in women, in them, estradiol is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands and the placenta during pregnancy. Estradiol promotes growth of female sex organs, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, vagina and breasts. It also helps control how the fat is distributed in the female body while in men is caused by the aromatization of testosterone in the liver, fat and other cells. Nature created it for a reason has been shown to be responsible for the healthy bone density in women’s own sexual characteristics, menstrual cycle, pregnancy but its role in males, and his body composition is debatable.

One thing is certain: high levels of estrogen, particularly estradiol in the blood can cause the growth of breast tissue in men and decreased free testosterone.

When the pituitary gonadal axis detects hormone estradiol is high, decreases or automatically stops the production of testosterone. Some argue that low testosterone ratios compared to estradiol, may be more closely related to gynecomastia and erectile problems that estradiol alone.

However there is much evidence on the underside of the optimal range, since it has been found that estradiol levels in blood below 10-20 pg / ml can increase bone loss in men, so there should always be optimal minimum. Mediated actions documented estrogen testosterone in men include a role in regulating LH feedback, a role in regulating skeletal homeostasis, and a role in lipid metabolism and cardiovascular physiology, other possible actions of estrogen in men, there is evidence of a role in the brain and spermatogenesis.

It may be noted that serum estrogen levels in older men are higher than those of postmenopausal women, because there is an increase in fat mass and activity of tissue aromatase with age, higher blood levels of testosterone decreased the percentage of body fat, intraabdominal fat area and subcutaneous fat area, a study found that estradiol values ​​between less than 21.8 pg / ml and greater than 31.11 pg / ml, resulted in a higher mortality the men.

Androgen deficiency is common in men with chronic heart failure (HF) and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Estrogens are formed by the aromatization of androgens; Therefore, abnormal estrogen metabolism would be anticipated to heart failure. Soaps, creams and makeups (containing parabens, triclosan, phthalates, and others) penetrate our skin as hormone disrupters that alter the balance of our body by increasing levels of estrogen. Plastics, especially of tuppers and plastic bottles, can be very potent hormone disruptors when heated and Teflon pans. Clothing made with polyester, which is simply a type of plastic, also has the same effect. Numerous studies have already shown,

Come through the skin, respiratory or digestive tract, enter the bloodstream and blood are distributed throughout the body, passing the tissue cells and some have significant toxic effects (not acutely, but with the passage of time), particularly in the hormonal system, even the innocent ticket made with sensitive thermal paper that give us after a purchase, contains another disruptor called bisphenol A.

Although estrogens are the main group of female sex hormones, not hormones are exclusive of women. In men also they synthesized although at much lower levels and variables at different stages of life:

In children, normal range of estrogen, estradiol measured as blood, is between 10 and 37 pg / ml (picograms / milliliter).

During puberty levels rise and fall between 23 and 84 pg / ml.

In fertile women, their values ​​at the beginning of cycle ranging from 27 pg / ml up to 140-440 pg / ml, in the middle of the cycle. Abnormally high levels may indicate the presence of cyst or low ovarian reserve.

In adult men, the range considered normal estrogen is between 20 and 45 pg / ml, as maximum.

These relatively low, levels have an important role on men’s health because they are needed to maintain body weight levels, involved in reproductive function and contribute to the proper functioning of the thyroid. Also they relate to a protective effect against cardiovascular disease.

Excess estrogen

The man, therefore, need estrogen for the proper functioning of your body, but you need low amount. high levels, medical condition known as hyperestrogenism, can cause female sexual characteristics are developed, such as increasing the size of breast (gynaecomastia) and increased fatty tissue in the hip and under abdomen.Otros symptoms include loss of libido , erectile dysfunction, feeling tired and emotional disorders, mainly depression. Excess estrogen in men is also associated with infertility, testicular atrophy, prostatic hyperplasia and type 2 diabetes.

Main causes

Of all estrogens, estradiol is the most often in men climb as it is synthesized from testosterone, the main male hormone and environmental estrogens, which interfere, as we said in the male hormone function. For this reason, the hormone estradiol is usually measured to diagnose a possible excess estrogen in men.

Also this increase may be due to other causes. Some of the main factors are age, poor liver function, obesity, alcohol, zinc deficiency and some drug therapies. With overweight, an increase in the number of adipocytes is developed, which produce high levels of aromatase, which is the enzyme that converts testosterone into estradiol. The effect is intensified if there is also low muscle mass. The same path is affected by zinc deficiency, which also increases the levels of aromatase, besides being necessary for the synthesis of testosterone.

Estrogenic food consumption can also lead hyperestrogenism, especially animal foods, because vegetables contain phytoestrogens, similar to estrogen animals but with much less activity.

Some syndromes, such as Klynefelter syndrome, among others of genetic origin also have high levels of estrogen.

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