Men have hormones, too – here is how they impact their health and wellbeing

Like women, men experience hormonal shifts and changes. Every day, a man's testosterone levels rise in the morning and fall in the evening. Testosterone levels can even vary from day to day.
Men have hormones, too – here is how they impact their health and wellbeing
Men do go through hormonal cycles. Image/Unsplash

When most people hear the phrase hormone health, they automatically think about women’s hormones and the issues caused by hormonal imbalances. But men also have hormones, and it’s essential to include them when discussing how hormonal imbalances can affect their health. While men and women have a series of specific hormones, they also share some common ones that influence their health and wellbeing in similar ways.

Before talking about the hormones that affect only men, let’s check the list of hormones both genders have.

The most important hormones in the human body

Hormones are chemical messengers that travel through the human body to the organs and tissues and trigger particular responses. The human body has 50 types of hormones that control various functions like mood, growth, metabolism, reproduction, and sexual health. When a body produces too much or too little of a hormone, it can cause a series of conditions.

Insulin, also known as the fat-storage hormone, is released by the pancreas and regulates metabolic processes. It makes it possible for the cells and organs to absorb glucose. When people experience an insulin imbalance, the blood sugar accumulates, and it can cause diabetes.

Melatonin – plays a crucial role in the sleep/wake cycles and regulates the body’s internal clock. As the day progresses, the brain increases or decreases the melatonin levels to prepare the body for sleep. A melatonin imbalance can affect sleep quality and patterns.

Cortisol – also known as the stress hormone, works similar to an alert system to tell the brain and body to react when imminent danger threatens the individual. A high level of cortisol can trigger migraines, heart issues, weight gain, brain fog, and sleep disturbances.

How hormones are affecting men

As already mentioned, hormones have different functions and consequences in the human body according to the gender of the patient. The hormones oestrogen and testosterone impact the body’s overall functions, and an imbalance can cause sexual function disturbances and some other unusual symptoms.

Oestrogen is usually known as the female hormone, while testosterone is often referred to as the male hormone. But these statements aren’t accurate because both hormones are present in everyone’s body. However, men tend to have a higher amount of testosterone. Oestrogen is essential in the development of sexual functions in women and in men, with the difference that a particular form of oestrogen called oestradiol is important for male sexuality.

Testosterone is a key hormone in male sexual development and function. Still, it has to stay in balance with testosterone to control sex drive, the ability to produce sperm, and the ability to have an erection. The levels of testosterone decrease as men age and can become a risk of developing conditions like diabetes and cancer.

To better understand how hormone imbalances affect men, let’s understand how oestrogen and testosterone impact males’ health and overall wellbeing.

Oestrogen in men

Male bodies have two types of oestrogen, oestradiol and oestrone. When they experience a high level of oestrogen they can suffer from infertility, gynecomastia, erectile dysfunction, slowed growth, or epiphyseal closure.

The most common symptoms associated with high oestrogen in men are:

  • Focusing issues
  • Hot flashes
  • Loss of bone density
  • Shrinking muscle mass
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Reduced growth of testicles and penis
  • Exhaustion
  • Reduced sperm concentration in semen
  • Losing hair all over the body

What causes high oestrogen levels in men?

Some substances and medications can raise the level of oestrogen in the male body. Antibiotics, herbs and natural supplements like ginseng and ginkgo, and phenothiazines can trigger this hormonal imbalance. Sometimes high oestrogen is also passed through the genes or caused by conditions like obesity, stress, tumours, and conditions that impact hormone imbalances. You can find more here about how high levels of oestrogen impact men’s health and how hormone therapy can improve their conditions.

When men experience a low level of oestrogen, they have no reason to worry, even if they may experience similar symptoms like when their levels are higher than usual. Oestrogen imbalances are usually caused by hypogonadism that lowers the levels of hormones in the body.

The most common factors that can lead to a low level of oestrogen are:

  • Obesity
  • Tuberculosis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Liver or kidney conditions
  • Infections of the sexual organs
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Tumour growing close to the pituitary gland
  • Genetic disorders

Testosterone in men

Testosterone doesn’t play an important role only in managing the sexual and reproductive system, but it also impacts the structure of the brain and men’s overall mental health. It also directly influences memory and learning because the receptors that metabolise testosterone are placed in the memory and learning areas of the brain.

As we earlier mentioned, men usually experience a gradual decline in the levels of testosterone as they age (somewhere around 40 years, the same age when women experience menopause). This gradual decline can trigger some of the following symptoms that can cause a series of general health conditions.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Mood swings
  • Impulsiveness
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability

Because testosterone plays an important role in regulating body processes and functions, a lower-than-normal level in a man’s body can cause some of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of bone mass
  • Increased body fat
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Sleeping issues
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased libido
  • Hair loss

What causes low levels of testosterone in men?

Testosterone levels drop as a natural effect of ageing. Men start noticing the symptoms associated with this condition in their thirties. Besides ageing, some other factors also impact testosterone production.

  • Obesity
  • Unbalanced diet
  • Exercising too much
  • Medical conditions
  • The use of alcohol and drugs
  • Kidney failure
  • HIV

Not all men experience symptoms related to hormonal imbalance, and the seriousness of the condition can vary widely. If you experience some of the above symptoms, you can check your hormone levels with the help of a blood test and ask a medical professional if you need treatment for hormone imbalance.

Author

Jason Vredenburg, RD

Jason Vredenburg is a nutrition writer with over twenty years of experience as a Registered Dietitian. He has researched and written nu

View All