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Can Men Be Oestrogen Dominant?
Progesterone is an essential hormone for both men and women, and men are today more at risk from oestrogen-like substances in the environment.
It is often forgotten that progesterone is a hormone produced by both women and men. Men produce it in both their adrenals and testes and progesterone levels in men remain fairly constant until they reach their sixties or even seventies. At this time of life there are other hormone changes in a man in addition to the drop in progesterone levels. Testosterone levels drop and change from a preponderance of testosterone to one of di-hydrotestosterone. The levels of oestrogens also rise and although it is not clear whether these hormonal changes are independent of one another, or if perhaps the drop in progesterone precipitates the fall in testosterone, what is clear is that adequate progesterone production is essential for men’s health and wellbeing.
While it is well recognized that men frequently experience a decrease in sexual activity as they age, it is not clear whether this is due to ageing, a decline in general fitnss, change in hormone levels or a combination of these factors. Hormonal changes do not occur in all men, but when they do they are generally related to a rise in their oestrogen levels. This accounts for the ‘man breasts’ and feminizing effects observed in men where they may also need to shave less often.
The levels of both progesterone and testosterone drop, and when testosterone levels fall there is often a corresponding rise in di-hydro-testosterone. This is another form of testosterone and seems to have more aggressive effects than testosterone and possibly may be the cause of prostatic cancer.
The drop in progesterone levels is important. We know that progesterone has a protective effect against the stimulating effect of oestrogen in women. It has the same protective effect in men against the stimulating effects of testosterone and di-hydrotestosterone.
It works in men in two ways: first by acting directly upon progesterone receptors which are present in almost every tissue of the body, and secondly by competing for receptors with testosterone.
Although very little research has been done into the effects and role of progesterone in men, it is clear that a whole range of health problems can be addressed using this hormone. It should not be forgotten that men are also exposed to the pollutant xenoestrogens in the environment and these too can have oestrogen-like effects on men as well as on women. This oestrogen dominance due to pollution is also probably the cause of some of the low sperm counts that are not infrequently seen in otherwise fit and healthy men.
Another common source are phthalates, another environmental chemical oestrogen, which is found in plastics along with personal care products, and pesticides which also have an oestrogenic effect on the body when consumed.
3 things you can do to limit exposure
Minimizing the damaging effects is a three-fold process: limit exposure, detoxify and balance with progesterone.
1 Limit exposure by first switching to glass containers for water and food storage rather than plastics. Check any canned foods as although BPA has been banned from baby bottles it remains in use to line food cans. Intended as a protective barrier between the metal and the can’s contents, BPA can actually leach into the food and the effects are most detrimental for pregnant women, babies and children. Many manufacturers are phasing it out but it is worth checking every label and writing to the manufacturer if necessary to get confirmation if you are a frequent consumer of canned goods. The same applies to cosmetics and shampoos, check the ingredients and ask the company if they are BPA and phalate free, there are specific companies that have such products.
2 Detoxify your body of any xenoestrogen residue through diet and with specific supplements. Oestrogen is metabolized by the liver,so a liver detox is a good first step. You can do this by eating plenty of leafy greens as well as superfoods like spirulina, wheat or barley grass and chlorella help to keep the liver clear and functioning properly. Milk thistle is also an excellent cleansers to supplement in this process. Avoid processed foods and focus your diet on fruit, vegetables (especially cruciferous) and omega-3 rich foods and include a high quality probiotic along with flax and plenty of fibre as it sweeps excess oestrogen from the intestinal tract.
If you are following a high carbohydrate and low protein diet that has been shown to decrease activity of cytochrome P450 that detoxifies estrogen so is counterproductive in this instance. The amino acids lysine and threonine, found in meat, fish, beans, eggs, can help get rid of estrogen from the body. If you are carrying a few extra pounds then try to lose them as the more fat tissue one has, the more oestrogen is present due to higher levels of aromatase, an enzyme that transforms testosterone to oestrogen.
3 Reduce oestrogen dominance with progesterone to achieve hormone balance.The most effective way to offset the damaging influence of excess oestrogen is to restore hormone balance with bioidentical progesterone. Women have lower levels as we age and stress also plays an important part in reducing it and if oestrogen is not balanced by sufficient progesterone then oestrogen dominance will occur. When progesterone levels are balanced, energy, mental stability, libido and healthy weight return. Hormonal cancer risks of the breast and endometrium are also reduced so supplementing with a topical bioidentical progesterone cream with a good level of naturally occurring USP bioidentical progesterone has been found effective.
It may well be that future work will show that natural progesterone is as vital a hormone for men as it is for women.