By Don Colbert, M.D.
You don’t normally think of women needing testosterone and men needing estrogen. But when those levels drop for women and men, respectively, or are way out of balance, a wide range of symptoms may be suffered.
Fortunately, there are ways to correct those levels and restore health.
Testosterone is considered the manly hormone, yet few women know that they have quite a bit of it in their bodies, primarily when they are young. In their 20s and 30s, their testosterone is in the normal range, but after 40 is when we start to see the decline in levels.
There are numerous factors that push testosterone levels lower – menopause, medications, stress, aging, removal of ovaries, and more. And with that drop, myriad problems can occur. Blood work is needed to confirm suspicions, but persistent symptoms of low testosterone in women are hard to argue away. Among those symptoms are aching joints, depression, inability to sleep, lack of sex drive, migraines, and weight gain.
But the great news is, it’s fixable.
The hormone health zone for testosterone in women
The first hormone women need to optimize is testosterone. It may sound a little strange to recommend testosterone therapy for women, but with it they can benefit enormously. Depression and anxiety usually lift. They can slow or sometimes reverse cellulite, lose weight (especially belly fat), tighten skin, restore libido, improve memory, strengthen the heart, and boost energy levels and stamina.
The benefits of boosting testosterone go further; low testosterone is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, and weak bones. Low testosterone levels give women many of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism, which serves as another strong motivator for women to keep their testosterone levels up.
Sadly, most doctors are taught to prescribe only low doses of estradiol (in pill format, which is not good) and no testosterone whatsoever. In fact, doctors usually choose not to address hormone issues at all. They will tell you “normal ranges,” and if you happen to be low, they will usually prescribe you a medication for the symptoms. But that will never get your health back.
What your body needs is bioidentical hormone therapy. You may need to find another doctor, someone who will treat your low-testosterone symptoms with bioidentical testosterone.
I have found boosting testosterone levels with pellets to be effective and efficient. They raise levels quickly, and you don’t need to come back for another treatment for three to four months, and sometimes six months. Testosterone injections are the next-best method if pellets are too pricey, followed by testosterone creams.
I suggest women in their 40s start monitoring their testosterone levels. The time to start optimizing them is when the hormone levels go below 50-60 percent of upper range or when symptoms develop. When your testosterone levels are optimized, life is great!
Now for you men
Yes guys, it’s true: Even men need estrogen. There’s just a delicate balance that needs to be understood.
Estrogen is one of those things that is good for you in the proper amounts but bad if you have too much or too little of it. Just the right amount of estradiol is good for bone strength, sperm count, cholesterol metabolism, healthy libido, and clear thinking, just to name a few of the known values of estrogen in men.
Usually, however, it is too much estrogen in men that is much more common. This occurs when testosterone levels decrease due to aging, obesity, lifestyle, a lack of exercise, stress, endocrine disruptors, and so on. Too much estrogen has been found to promote abnormal clot formation or blood clots, and excessive estrogen levels may also increase the risk of stroke.
A healthy man usually needs to maintain at least a 10-to-1 ratio of testosterone to estrogen. When the ratio is far below 10-to-1, estrogen levels are too high, and that brings with it a host of ailments. Among the symptoms I’ve seen in men who have too much estrogen in their bodies are brain fog, blood clots, gynecomastia (man boobs), lack of erections, lack of sex drive, and low sperm counts.
There’s also a higher risk for prostate cancer and heart disease when estrogen (estradiol) levels in men are too high.
Too little estrogen, and you also have a lack of sexual interest, few erections, and no libido. It’s also not healthy for the brain to have super-low estrogen levels, nor is brain fog a symptom that anyone enjoys.
The hormone health zone for estrogen in men
Optimizing estrogen levels in men usually coincides with their testosterone levels. They are linked; raise testosterone, and estrogen usually rises; lower testosterone, and estrogen usually lowers. Remember, the goal is for at least a 10-to-1 ratio.
When men start using testosterone cream, shots, or pellets, some of the testosterone aromatizes, or converts, to estrogen. Some men have excessive aromatization, especially older men and men who are obese. To stay in the estradiol hormone health zone, men will need to take a hormone-regulating supplement called DIM (Diindolylmethane), 150 mg twice a day. It is the safest way to lower estrogen without the fear of going too low.
For men who have never had their estrogen levels checked and believe they might have the symptoms of high or low estrogen, ask for blood work that gives you your estradiol level. Then you and your doctor will know what to do to treat it. Estrogen levels are usually pretty easy to treat in men.
It may be surprising that men need to watch their estrogen levels, but it’s one of those things that they must be aware of. When we were learning to drive, we were all taught to watch for the “blind spots.” Those spots aren’t dangerous in and of themselves. But when you need to take action, the blind spots are suddenly very important.
Don Colbert, M.D. (www.drcolbert.com), is the author of Dr. Colbert’s Hormone Health Zone. He has been a board-certified family practice doctor for more than 25 years and has offices in Orlando, Fla., and Dallas. The author of over 40 books, he wrote two New York Times best-sellers – The Seven Pillars of Health and Dr. Colbert’s “I Can Do This” Diet – has sold more than 10 million books and treated 50,000-plus patients. Dr. Colbert is a frequent show guest of Christian leaders Joyce Meyer, John Hagee, and Kenneth Copeland and has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, Fox News, ABC World News Tonight, and in periodicals such as Newsweek and Reader’s Digest.