The Role of Estrogen
The healthy maintenance of the human body depends upon a precise balance of hormones, enzymes, and a myriad of other processes which are essential to our well-being. Although testosterone and estrogen are hormones that evoke gender-based labels, each are essential to both males and females. While many of us know that men rely on specific levels of testosterone for certain sexual, biological and emotional functions, the important role that estrogen plays in the male body is poorly understood.
Estrogen is vital to a man’s sex drive. If not enough estrogen is present, a male is at risk to develop certain symptoms of andropause (sometimes misleadingly referred to as male menopause), including a flagging libido.
Although testosterone is primarily a male sex hormone, a portion of testosterone converts into estrogen. As men age, the levels of both hormones diminish, resulting in certain challenges. While a male’s sex drive depends on testosterone, a reduction in his estrogen levels more severely hampers his sexual functioning.
Sometimes the origins of various symptoms are mistakenly blamed on reduced testosterone levels when the culprit is a lack of estrogen.
“Some of the symptoms routinely attributed to testosterone deficiency are actually partially or almost exclusively caused by the decline in estrogens,” said Harvard Medical School endocrinologist Dr. Joel Finkelstein in a September 11, 2013 article in the New York Times. Dr. Finkelstein’s comments were based on a study involving 400 men ages 20 to 50 who agreed to have their testosterone supply shut down for four months.