Andropause: The Feminization of Men

By Michael A. Smith, MD

Andropause: The Feminization of MenMale menopause is known as “andropause” and is characterized by a decrease in serum testosterone levels, with a subsequent increase in estrogen — feminization. Andropause not only results in a change in body composition, but also increases the risk for cardiovascular events and early death.2

As men age, testosterone production from the testicles decreases, lowering serum testosterone levels. The loss of testosterone, or andropause, can cause many problems — low libido, sleep disturbances, cognitive decline, weight gain, and loss of lean muscle mass.

But it’s not just the drop in testosterone production that causes andropause. Male menopause is also characterized with an increase in serum estrogen because of the activity of the aromatase enzyme. This enzyme converts testosterone into estrogen.

Less testosterone and more estrogen can lead to devastating effects in aging men. Let’s take a look at the dangers of andropause and excess estrogen in aging men.

Effects of Estrogen on Aging Men

There are two devastating effects estrogen has on aging men: stroke and heart attacks.

  • Stroke
    Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of age-related disability. Abnormal blood clotting in the cerebral blood vessels is the most common cause of stroke. Excess estrogen promotes abnormal blood clots.1

    In a study published just last year, blood levels of estradiol (the form of estrogen measured in blood tests) were measured in a group of 2,197 men aged 71 to 93 years of age. Adjustment for age, blood pressure, diabetes, weight, cholesterol and atrial fibrillation were made.

    During the course of follow-up, men with the highest blood levels of estradiol had a 2.2-fold greater risk of stroke compared with those whose estradiol levels were lower.2 This study revealed that estradiol blood levels greater than 34.1 pg/mL resulted in this more than doubling of stroke incidence.

  • Heart Attack
    A study published just last year compared blood levels of testosterone and estradiol in men suffering acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) with those who had previously suffered a heart attack.

    Sex hormones were measured in patients presenting with acute heart attack, patients with old heart attack, and patients with normal coronary arteries. The results showed significantly higher levels of estradiol in both groups of heart attack patients compared with those without coronary disease.3

    As would be expected from numerous prior studies, heart attack victims also had decreased testosterone levels.

How to Maintain Healthy Estrogen Levels in Men

There are safe methods for optimizing testosterone and estrogen levels in aging men. The nutrients Life Extension suggests are believed to slow-down the activity of the aromatase enzyme. This may result in an increase in testosterone and a decrease in estrogen.

  • Zinc — 15 to 30 mg/day
  • Chrysin — 750 mg/day
  • Grape Seed Extract — 100 mg/day
  • Lignans (plant fibers) — 25 to 50 mg/day

1. Colmou A. Estrogens and vascular thrombosis. Soins Gynecol Obstet Pueric Pediatr. 1982 Sep;(16):39-41.
2. Abbott RD, Launer LJ, Rodriguez BL, et al. Serum estradiol and risk of stroke in elderly men. Neurology. 2007 Feb 20;68(8):563-8.
3. Tivesten A, Hulthe J, Wallenfeldt K, et al. Circulating estradiol is an independent predictor of progression of carotid artery intima-media thickness in middle-aged men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Nov;91(11):4433-7.


tessa wu said...

Very good tip. It is nice that an alternative to maintain estrogen level. Now men can use this as a reference for their concern not only for testosterone but estrogen as well. Well done.

Anonymous said...

And about bioidentical hormones?

Life Extension said...

Anonymous, good point. And yes, we do suggest bio-identical testosterone. But if you take it, it's important to make sure it doesn't convert into estrogen. The suggestions in the blog can help prevent that undesirable side effect.

Anonymous said...

How do you prevent conversion. Is it not a direct injection to bypass destruction via digestion.

Life Extension said...

Aromatase inhibitors like zinc, chrysin, grape seeds block the conversion of testosterone into estrogen.

Anonymous said...

Best bet is to get an estradiol blood test and see where you are at...20 to 30 pg/ml is optimal. If you are high, you can get a script for anastrazole if the natural route doesn't help bring it down. No real side effects to it, other than boosting your free testosterone by bringing down your estradiol.

Life Extension said...

Anonymous, thanks for your insight.

Anonymous said...

I have been doing TRT for the past 5 months, which basically constitutes 2 "cycles", as I had low free testosterone but normal overall testosterone. I go to an anti-aging doc for this, as my normal doc would not do anything for me. I am almost done with the 2nd you recommend going off for a while or should I continue on with the 3rd one? Any advice is appreciated. The doc I go to advises just to keep doing it, but I know his partial motivation is $$.

Life Extension said...

Anonymous, unfortunately we cannot give you medical advice. But we can tell you that what should drive your decision is your testosterone blood level. Why not speak with one of our advisors who can walk you through the decision process? They can be reached at 1-800-226-2370.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the chrysin, and grape seed extract my husband takes the rest plus the Ultra prostate formula which is supposed to deal with the estrogen/testosterone conversion. The estrogen is what the problem is with BPH and the prostate gland and this is a condition he has had for several years. We use grape seed oil for cooking but that is not the, is this something that he should consider and combined with the "Ultra prostate formula" is it too much??

Life Extension said...

Thanks for your question. Adding some additional grape seed extract should not be a problem. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

DIM metabolite from cruciferous veggie or lots of iodine/iodide (15mg upto like 50mg+) will also induce more estriol metabolism, thus modulating to weaker estrogens ..

DIM 100mg-200mg dietary products (such as of Source Naturals) are best chewed with food for best absorption, so that it mixes with bile just outside the stomach ... see that the urine gets a brownish tingse of DIM metabolites when tablets are chewed!


though, i did read that indole-3-carbinol (I3C) (DIM's precursor) supplementing did give even higher DIM blood levels.

A concentrated source of lignans is flaxseed hulks and such a product is sold some where. Very Much more lignans than in Barleans flaxseed oils.

BobG said...

Nothing you suggested blocks the extrogen. It's all baloney!

Anonymous said...

Eat fresh white mushrooms! It is a good anti-aromatase food.

Anonymous said...

Serious question / comment
What are the implications for men who are transgendered and taking hormones to boost estrogen and decrease testosterone? Both pre op and post op. Many never go though the final surgery as the develop the sex the body and mind of the desired gender. There are far more people doing this than you'd ever imagine.

Life Extension said...

Anonymous- There is no implication. The amount of age-related “feminization” that men deal with is far below the estrogenic stimulation needed for transgendered men.

Anonymous said...

re: transgendered question: Then if a person is taking estrogen and a testosterone blocker to reduce the production of testosterone does that mean they are putting their longevity at risk? I don't follow the answer above simply as this is all new for me, learning curve time.

Life Extension said...

Anonymous- According to one long term study, longevity was not affected by trans-sexual hormone treatment. Here is a link to the study:

Reese said...

Thanks for sharing. There really is a midlife crisis for most men and it has a medical name; Aging Male Syndrome or Andropause. Sharing this article I read recently

Life Extension said...

Reese - We'll take a look at the link. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Can men take Life Extension Natural Estrogen? What effect would it have on men?

Life Extension said...

Anonymous - We would encourage you to contact our Wellness Specialists at 1-800-226-2370 to discuss this topic in detail.

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