Estrogen is often called a “female hormone,” which is a misnomer, as this steroid hormone is also produced in the male body. It’s also true that women produce far greater amounts of estrogen than men, just as men produce about 10 times more testosterone than women.
Men’s greater testosterone levels are often cited as the reason that they are able to build more muscle than women. Recent studies, however, show that despite the negligible amounts of testosterone they produce while weight training, women are able to make similar muscle gains to men’s. That relates more to the fact that anabolic hormones produced during exercise don’t have as great an effect on muscle growth as was previously realized. Think about that the next time you read an article about the best ways to boost anabolic hormones during training.
If men’s bodies produce estrogen, what is the purpose? After all, nature is not known to be profligate in its actions; everything it does, it does for a reason. Although the precise functions of estrogen in men aren’t entirely clear, it appears to play a role in the maturation and development of sperm, which means that estrogen may effect male fertility.
Estrogen is vital to bone development in women, and a lack of it in older women often results in osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease. Some scientists suggest that estrogen may play a similar role in men. Men deficient in testosterone are also subject to osteoporosis, although it’s not as common in men as in women, and when it does occur, it usually strikes in the spine.
Men are often advised not to take supplements or drugs that lower estrogen for extended times because of possible adverse affects on the cardiovascular system. That’s based on the established cardiovascular protection offered by estrogen to women. Younger women rarely suffer from heart attacks or strokes, and the reason is attributed to their higher estrogen levels. Estrogen offers cardiovascular protection in several ways. For one thing, it aides the synthesis and release of nitric oxide.