8 Surprising High-Estrogen Symptoms in Men

Are your testosterone levels right? These high estrogen symptoms in men can tip you off.

high estrogen symptoms

High estrogen symptoms can show up not only in women, but in men.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Too much estrogen isn’t a problem just for women, men can also experience high estrogen symptoms. If you find yourself asking the question, “is there estrogen in men?” the answer is yes. Men make estrogen, too, and levels can become elevated (or depressed).

Although research thus far has focused almost exclusively on how estrogen affects women and how testosterone affects men, it is now known that estrogen in men plays an important role in the regulation of testosterone, several brain functions, bone health, skin health, sexual function/libido, cardiovascular function, and cholesterol regulation.[1]

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Symptoms of High Estrogen in Men

Normally in men, testosterone and estrogen are maintained in the correct balance. When estrogen levels in men increase, testosterone levels tend to decrease, so that symptoms of high estrogen tend to occur along with symptoms of low testosterone. Signs of high estrogen symptoms in men can therefore be difficult to differentiate from low testosterone symptoms.

So what does estrogen do in males? The most common symptoms of high estrogen in men include these eight:

  1. Sexual dysfunction (low libido, decreased morning erections, decreased erectile function)
  2. Enlarged breasts
  3. Lower urinary tract symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)[2]
  4. Increased abdominal fat (can also be a symptom of low estrogen)
  5. Feeling tired
  6. Loss of muscle mass
  7. Emotional disturbances, especially depression
  8. Type 2 diabetes

As you can see from the list above, men with too much estrogen aren’t just at risk for non-serious symptoms like decreased sexual function and enlarged breasts. They are also at high risk for more serious problems such as type 2 diabetes.

The latest research shows that the increased diabetes risk is independent of testosterone levels—that is, high estrogen raises diabetes risk whether testosterone is low or not.[3] High estrogen in men also increases the risk for prostate cancer and autoimmune diseases.[4]

What Causes High Estrogen Symptoms in Men?

A number of factors can throw the estrogen/testosterone balance out of whack in men, leading to high estrogen symptoms. Some of these factors include:

Aging. Advancing age is associated with an increase in aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.[1] Older men actually have higher estrogen levels than postmenopausal women.

Increased fat relative to muscle. A loss of lean muscle tissue and an increase in fat tissue also typically occurs with advancing age, as well as with metabolic disorders such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Fat tissue contains aromatase and thus converts testosterone to estrogen. Fat also serves as a reservoir for storing estradiol. Both these factors lead to increased estrogen levels in men.

Testosterone therapy. Men who are treated with injectable forms of synthetic testosterone almost always make too much estrogen. In my own clinical practice, I saw firsthand that bioidentical (natural) testosterone therapy can also lead to high estrogen levels in men, especially when used in excess or used in men with obesity.

Faulty feedback. Once a man has too much estrogen in his system, a vicious cycle can ensue in which the high estrogen levels lead to a faulty feedback system, tricking the brain and testes into producing even less testosterone. This can lead to even higher levels of estrogen and more severe estrogen dominance, magnifying the high estrogen symptoms.

Estrogen Deficiency Can Also Be a Problem for Men

Surprisingly, men can also have too little estrogen and suffer from symptoms of estrogen deficiency. Some of these symptoms are, ironically, the same as those of estrogen excess. A recent study examining the important role of estrogen in the regulation of body fat and sexual function in men found that the most severe effects of estrogen deficiency in men were on sexual desire, with estrogen deficient men reporting dramatic declines in arousal and erectile function.[5]
Additionally, the men with decreased estrogen showed higher levels of the type of inner abdominal fat known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Men with estrogen deficiency also have decreased bone strength and are at increased risk for fractures.[6]

How Men Can Control Estrogen Levels and How to Lower Estrogen in Men

The important lesson may be that hormonal balance of estrogen with testosterone is key, rather than absolute levels of estrogen itself. Fortunately, a number of diet, lifestyle, and natural therapies have been found to keep estrogen levels balanced. The best-researched treatments for how to reduce estrogen levels in males and improving estrogen balance are:

  • Eat cruciferous vegetables multiple times per week. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and turnip greens, contain high amounts of glucosinolates, which the body transforms into bioactive compounds that help to decrease estrogen activity and increase estrogen detoxification.
  • Supplement with indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM). You can supplement your cruciferous vegetable intake with their most beneficial compounds, I3C (200 mg per day) and DIM (100 mg per day), in supplement form.
  • Get enough vitamin B12, folate, betaine, and choline. These nutrients, known as methyl donors, help to improve the biochemical process known as methylation, which is an important function in estrogen metabolism and detoxification. Good dietary sources include meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, spinach, beets, and quinoa.
  • Increasing fiber, exercising, and reducing weight are also important natural treatments for reducing high estrogen symptoms in men.

If you’re experiencing high estrogen in men symptoms and/or low testosterone and you don’t get relief within a few months of implementing these natural therapies, it’s important to see a healthcare practitioner who can evaluate your symptoms and test you hormone levels. You may benefit from hormone replacement therapy and/or a more intensive natural treatment regimen.

Help Your Fellow Readers with High Estrogen Symptoms

Do you have any experience with symptoms of high estrogen or the effects of estrogen on men? Or low estrogen in males? Share your experience in the Comments section below.

[1] Aging Male. 2002 Jun;5(2):98-102.

[2] Curr Urol Rep. 2015 Sep;16(9):534.

[3] Diabetes Care. 2013 Sep; 36(9): 2591–2596.

[4] J Cell Biochem. 2007 Nov 1;102(4):899-911.

[5] N Engl J Med. 2013 Sep 12;369(11):1011-22.

[6] J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Jul;99(7):E1322-6.

Originally published in 2015, this post is regularly updated.

  • bruce m.

    I’ve got oestradiol of 205H an I experience ED symptoms…..how can it b reduced.help pls

  • iam i.

    Im male form teking progestkn may boob devlopping plz help mi

  • iam i.

    Im male form female hormons devloping plz hdlp mi

  • Micheal B.

    I’m taking female hormone pills so I can have surgery will that decrease my sperm count

  • I am a personal trainer that focuses on Fat loss/ Lean muscle gain and general fitness with Nutritional advice and monitoring as a core of my training. If you need guidance please dont hesitate to contact me via email! Thanks

  • You can’t say depression isn’t a serious life threatening illness.

  • Jason

    Estoy en terapia de reemplazo de testosterona por 3 meses y mi estradiol es 99 pg ¿ hay alguna forma de bajarlo?

  • Jason

    I have my estradiol in 99 pg how can reduce te levals?

  • My estrogen is twice as high as it should be and my testosterone is low. The condition that affects me is being homozygous for the MTHFR. My liver pretty much missing the step where it takes b12 into a usable form.

  • Charlie

    69 year old male…for two years I have been fighting insomnia and fatigue…T levels are Free T = 4.7…Total is 304………..FSH is 13.6……….everything else is OK. I have had about 12 blood test, of all types, during the last two years. I have had 14 doctor visits with 10 doctors in two states, and about the same number of nutritionist. My SHBG is 52.6. I have tried AndroGel: bad results. I tried injections – horrible results…even glandular T, lowered my T scores. I am now beyond frustrated.

  • arsel

    Im a boy 17 years old I hame man boobs since I was 12 and it is terribel for my age to have this problem and I need a solution please somewon tell me how to get rid of man boobs

  • @arsel
    A percentage of boys will get that during puberty and usually it goes away in late teens when your hormones balance out in early 20s.

    It’s called gynecomastia.

    What you need to do is loose weight starting now which means running, jogging, start boxing etc. If you’re overweight it will usually be dramatically worse. I train kids at a boxing gym so I see a lot of kids your age without shirts on all the time and no lean kids have it (gynecomastia).

    In order to not spend your teen years afraid to take your shirt off or be embarrassed about it you need to eat healthy, stay away from soda (drink only water if you can) and sign up for a sport like boxing, mma, bike racing etc where intense cardio is just part of the routine. I say sign up for it because it obligates you to stick with it and you become part of a group doing the same thing. Not many people can maintain a hardcore workout schedule on thier own. When you have a place to go everyday it makes it so much easier.

    You can also tell your doctor you want a hormone panel done. Testosterone, estrogen are the key hormones here because high estrogen is usually the culprit with gynecomastia and there is medication you can take to reduce it. There may be a problem with your endocrine system as well.

    Your Dr will probably tell you to ride it out and wait until you’re past puberty but I don’t advise that.

    You don’t want to be embarrassed of your body through your prime years as it can cause serious self esteem issues into adulthood amongst other problems.
    That’s no way to live. You want to be and stay in terrific shape physically because over time that builds self confidence, a sense of well being and great acceptance amongst your peers, male and female, which is critical at your age. This is very important because you will get much more out of life being proud of who you are and what you look like opposed to being embarrassed and self-conscious.

  • Byron B.

    Since iv’e been on medication for in large prostrate i have very big man boobs layers of fat from my waist ,the fat around my groin is so big i can pick it up with both hands and pull it over my penis and testicles ,where my penis starts there a indent i can easily put two fingers in . I’m on lots of medication had Kidney failure 12 years ago that also left me with nerve damage to my left leg and drop foot also over the years have developed arthritis and narrowing of the spine .Six years ago had a Heart attack and stent fitted . You can imagine very depressed tired all the time and worst since PIP stopped my money nearly a year ago , my depression has been worst even suicidal. I am 63 in November but before all this i still felt in my twenties now i can hardly get around . I know the prostrate meds effect hormones but i don’t know about the other drugs..

  • I have high estrogen levels for the last few years. I am 65 years old, struggle with tiredness, a bit of depressed mood, and most of the other symptoms. My internist suggests more and more vitamins, hasn’t down any good. Last blood test showed B12 within range but a bit on the low side. Maybe if I took more vitamin b and d and lots of broccoli I could improve the situation

  • My T is 96.91 and E is 70.7 – I feel and see my breast enlarging plus I am gaining a crazy amount of weight increase fat around my midsection and on my thighs. Its very difficult to get erections and when I do its soft and when I ejaculate very little comes out and what come out is very clear. Plus I am tired and hungry all of the time. thank you

  • Paul F.

    I am male, 66, skinny all my life (6′ and 130 lb) and very healthy, with a set of inflammation symptoms onset 2 years ago. I have tested twice for estradiol levels 3x upper normal range, and low testosterone due to the aromotase conversion. This is concurrent with inflammation symptoms including peripheral neuropathy in hands and feet, some periodic swelling of fingers or other joints, and fluctuating distorted taste. Anastrozole over-corrected, but months later, after stopping it, the imbalance is back. I don’t fit the profile, being underweight and no belly fat. Eliminated gluten and other food proteins, with no resolution. Added dairy and eggs,back with no change, but still suspect gluten and other gut issues. Taking good probiotic and many high quality supplements, with a fairly clean, mostly organic diet. Puzzled by the whole thing. RA factor only appeared once. Extensive blood monitoring doesn’t indicate other clues.

  • rodney d.

    I’ve got a T level of 5.7 and NO one, I repeat no one, not even a Urologist will tell me what that means! I have a Estrogen level of 239.8 which is high. I have all the signs of estrogen dominance but diabetes. I want to bring down the Estrogen and lose about 10 lbs of belly fat. I am against HRT unless it is 100% natural. i do NOT want to become dependent on it, I am looking for something that encourages natural T production.

  • I am 58 years old, am on ADT (androgen deprivation therapy) for almost 2 years. My testosterone level is below 50 and my estradiol is 714. Go figure that one out!

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