The aromatase enzyme is responsible for converting androgens into estrogens by a process called aromatization. More specifically this enzyme can convert Androstenedione into estrone and/or Testosterone into estradiol. Elevated levels of these circulating estrogens can have adverse effects on men’s health. Firstly they signal the pituitary gland to reduce production of LH, a hormone which signals the testes to produce testosterone, thus reducing testosterone production. In addition high estrogens can also stimulate SHGB (sex hormone binding globulin) production which is a protein which binds to free testosterone creating a bound and inactive form which is no longer available to bind to testosterone receptors thus reducing active testosterone levels. Finally, as testosterone levels diminish and estrogen levels increase this creates an imbalance which could not only potentially increase a mans risk of developing prostate problems and even prostate cancer it also creates a situation where estrogens can bind to testosterone receptors thus blocking testosterone’s effect thus further exacerbating andropause symptoms.
Symptoms of Andropause
These symptoms include: decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory problems, decreased energy and strength, increase in body fat, loss of muscle mass, prostate enlargement, osteoporosis, depression, inability to concentrate, reduced mental agility and loss of enthusiasm.
It is therefore important that estrogens are reduced if tested and found to be excessive, or even at the high end of the normal range, in order to achieve levels at the low end of the normal range to prevent the situation described above. It is also important that estrogen levels are not reduced below the normal range as they are still essential for our normal physiology and in order to prevent unwanted side effects caused by low estrogen levels. As is always the case with hormones it is always about achieving the optimal balance!
Estrogen reduction can be best achieved by using an aromatase inhibitor which prevents their production which is more effective than using an estrogen antagonist (tamoxifen) which only blocks their action at the receptors but does nothing to control their level. The two main aromatase inhibitors we recommend for men are chrysin cream and anastrozole capsules.
Other stratagies include using SSKI iodine drops which helps stimulate the conversion of estrone (strong estrogen) into estriol (weak estrogen) which helps reduce excessive estrone levels and the overall estrogen activity. Stimulating estrogen metabolism with compounds such as diindolylmethane or indol-3-carbinol also helps reduce overall estrogen levels by clearing them from your system faster. Often we recommend a combination of these three strategies for maximum effectiveness.
There are many natural aromatase inhibitors such as resveratrol, zinc, ellagitannins and ursolic acid, to name but a few, which only give modest benefits at best. The natural treatment we have found to be most effective is Chrysin Cream (not lozenges or capsules). We find this works in the majority of cases however in cases where it is unable to reduce estrogen levels into the desired range we then opt for a stronger pharmaceutical aromatase inhibitor called Anastrozole at a low daily dose which is very effective.
At this point it is important to note that monitoring estrogen levels while on an aromatase inhibitor should be done by either urine or saliva testing. You should test for estradiol and estrone. Blood testing is unable to test for estrone which often may be elevated when estradiol is normal and thus blood tests may miss this diagnosis. As mentioned previously doses should be individualized to achieve levels of both estrone and estradiol at the low end of the normal range.
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