Estrogen Blockers: A Complete Guide
The use of estrogen blockers is on the rise now more than ever. As more and more people are learning that they have an estrogen dominance condition, they are seeking out solutions that are quick, and frankly, that actually work. What is estrogen dominance exactly? Simply put, it is an excess quantity of the estrogen hormone present in a human body, which over time, can cause a multitude of ailments (dysfunctions) in the body.
Why has this problem reached such epidemic proportions? There are many factors but for now, we will just stick with the two biggest influencers.
Most plastics, aluminum, and many processed foods carry the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). This chemical mimics estrogen, therefore tricking the body into believing that it has too much estrogen. Consequently, the natural hormone balance is thrown off, causing both minor and major health issues.
Another factor is that as a person grows older, it gets more difficult to maintain lean body mass, resulting in more fat accumulation. The problem with this is that fat cells produce estrogen. So the more fat cells there are, the more estrogen is produced. To break it down simply, the more fat a person has, the more estrogen they will have in their body.
With these two major factors alone, it is easy to see why this has become a widespread issue. But even though this problem has essentially become a plaque of sorts, there is a solution that can hugely alleviate the condition, if not curing it completely. This solution lies in the power of estrogen blockers.
There are many reasons why people would want to utilize estrogen blockers. From a simple desire to lower body fat and build more lean muscle, or, they want to prevent/treat health problems and diseases associated with heightened estrogen levels, it is becoming undeniable to the people of today that this condition is nothing to disregard or ignore.
What is estrogen?
Estrogen is a sex hormone. What are hormones? They are chemicals in the human body that give directions to the tissues in the body. Specifically, they travel through the bloodstream and then attach to the body’s receptor sites on the cell walls, thus giving the cell all the knowledge it needs to know what to do next. Estrogen, therefore, acts as this messenger.
Manufactured by the body in appropriate levels depending on what stage of development a person is, it aids in informing the cells to either start sexually maturing the body or, if the person has matured, to maintain a healthy sexual state. When people hear or use the word estrogen, they are usually always relating it to females and rightly so, because it plays a huge role throughout a woman’s life, especially during puberty and the reproduction stage.
Estrogen works in women during puberty to help turn a girl into a woman. It helps them to grow breasts and wider hips, have a fully developed uterus and maintain a healthy menstrual cycle. Therefore, the natural conclusion for most people is that this is predominantly a female hormone. It then makes sense why this might pose a threat to a man if they developed an estrogen dominance.
The question that would logically follow this conclusion would then become, how do men accumulate estrogen in their bodies?
Do men have estrogen?
The answer to this is yes. Men need estrogen in order to have healthy brains, joints, bones, sufficient sperm counts, and for an optimally functioning libido. However, they do not need it in large quantities as women do.
So in order for men to get this necessary hormone, their bodies use a conversion method called aromatization. As men produce testosterone, some of this male sex hormone is converted into estrogen through enzymes called aromatase. This process allows men to have the estrogen they need. But this process can become a problem as men start to age because the aromatase enzymes start to convert too much testosterone into estrogen, causing an estrogen overload.
Estrogen vs. testosterone
We already know what estrogen is. But what is testosterone exactly?
Testosterone is the male sex hormone that helps a boy become a man. When a boy enters puberty, rising levels of testosterone help the body in creating adult male qualities: facial and body hair, a deepening of the voice, broader chest and shoulders, and larger sexual organs. It is also the hormone that regulates sex drive, sperm counts, and keeping muscles healthy and strong in an adult male.
So knowing that testosterone is crucial to a man’s virility, it is, therefore, logical that a man wishes to keep high levels of testosterone and relatively low (not obsolete) levels of estrogen.
Why some men want to block estrogen
As we now know, the problem lies not in men actually having estrogen present in their body, but when the hormone starts to take over, causing an imbalance and thus resulting in unpleasant, if not horrendous, side effects.
What are these unwanted side effects?
- Breast enlargement (fat accumulating in the breast area that normally only occurs in women as well as in the thighs and hips)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low energy
- An increased struggle to build and maintain muscle
- Weight gain
- Emotional upsets
Therefore, it is a more than a reasonable conclusion that men desire to block most of their excessive estrogen production.
What are estrogen blockers?
Estrogen blockers are compounds that, in general, reduce estrogen in the body and halt its effects through two methods:
- Aromatase inhibitors: This is a method that shuts down the male body’s ability to convert testosterone into estrogen by inhibiting the aromatase enzyme that does the conversion process. Through halting this change, the body is able to naturally raise its testosterone levels.
- Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERM): This method involves inhibiting estrogen from being able to bind onto the receptor sites on cell walls. These compounds literally block estrogen from being absorbed by the body. Because of this, the hormone is forced to exit the system via natural elimination channels.
Furthermore, there are both medication and natural supplement forms of these two types of estrogen blockers. Medication forms are the much stronger and quicker way to block estrogen. These medications come in both the SERM and the aromatase inhibitor forms.
Supplemental forms are not as strong as the medications and generally take a bit longer to work because of their gentler nature. These too, contain both the SERM and aromatase qualities, depending on the supplement.
Estrogen blockers for men
The most common medications that are used to impede testosterone from being converted into estrogen (aromatase inhibitors) are as follows:
- Arimidex (anastrozole)
- Aromasin (exemestane)
- Femara (letrozole)
- Cytadren (aminoglutethimide)
The most common prescription drugs that use the second method (SERM) are:
- Nolvadex (Tamoxifen Citrate)
- Clomid (Clomiphene Citrate)
The best estrogen blocker
When determining which form of estrogen blocker you want to go with, it’s important to first find out what your current hormone levels are in comparison to what testosterone levels and estrogen levels are supposed to be (healthy range). If you do not know this, then it will be extremely hard to know whether supplementation or prescription is best for you.
Another important thing to keep in mind when making a decision about which form (medicine vs. supplement) you will use and specifically which will you take, is to remember that it always pays off to do your research and not just trust your doctor or your local health food store clerk. This way you can make a truly informed and confident decision and give your unique body what it needs most.
Do I need a prescription to buy estrogen blockers?
If you find that you are extremely high in estrogen and/or are also doing a testosterone replacement therapy, then a prescription estrogen blocker is the best bet to quickly get your estrogen levels down because of their swift results. If, however, you find that they are not extremely high and your not having severe symptoms relating to estrogen dominance (but still could use an estrogen blocker for minor decreases/maintenance of a healthy hormone balance), then you can benefit from the milder supplement forms.
Natural estrogen blockers
As mentioned earlier, it is best to do plenty of research on each natural supplement that has claims of being an estrogen blocker. The facts are, there are claims on both ends (both ends meaning: claims that a certain product works or doesn’t work) with each supplement.
Below are listed the most well-known supplements that have gained mass media attention as effective anti-estrogens:
Zinc is a necessary mineral that is needed in sufficient amounts for the body for optimal health. It is also known as an aromatase inhibitor. In one study done on rats, it was confirmed that testosterone levels went up and estrogen levels went down significantly.
Boron, also a vital trace mineral, is a SERM (selective estrogen receptor modulator). In a human case study, boron was given to the participants over a period of seven days. Both studies showed a significant decrease in estrogen (39 percent).
Chrysin is a flavonoid found in passion and chamomile flowers, honeycomb, and a few types of mushrooms. It is an aromatase blocker that is in most anti-estrogens; however, there is questionable evidence if it actually works.
Grape Seed Extract
These seeds are aromatase inhibitors that are highly praised for having two molecules, proanthocyanidin and procyanidin, that effectively block aromatase. However, a study done in 2014 states that there were no substantial improvements to the participants’ estrogen levels.
A potent antioxidant found in red wine (in grapes), this aromatase inhibitor has been thoroughly proven by these three studies to be identified as a highly effective estrogen blocker and also shown to be effective for weight loss.
Three additional common estrogen blockers are:
- Wild Nettle Root
- Calcium D-glucarate
- DIM (d-indole methane)
Are estrogen blockers safe?
Yes and no. They are relatively safe in a short-term period with very minor side effects when people first start taking an estrogen blocker the body has to get used to the new chemicals/compounds. Some people react severely to a certain drug or supplement but most people are able to take estrogen blockers short term.
When it can get dangerous is when these drugs, and yes supplements too, are taken over a long period of time simply because once the estrogen is lowered in the body, you start to experience symptoms of low estrogen, which are very similar to the symptoms of having too much estrogen. Also, certain chronic conditions, even diseases, can develop.
What’s the best estrogen blocker for men?
There really is no clear answer to this question. All drug and supplement advertising naturally claim they are the best, whether it is directly or indirectly. The truth is, everyone’s body is unique and responds to treatment in different ways. There are great benefits to most proclaimed estrogen blockers but most of them also have their drawbacks. Again, research, along with guidance from health experts and your doctor, are the keys to finding the best solution for you.
Where to buy estrogen blockers
If you decide to go the natural route after doing your research, the best place to go to make your supplements as affordable as possible would be to buy them online. Online places like Vitacost and Amazon sell their supplements wholesale versus retail. But if you prefer to shop at a local health food store, then use this link to make your search easy and quick.
Unfortunately, medical estrogen blockers are only available by prescription. Talk with your primary physician or a local doctor about your experience with estrogen dominance and discuss your options.
Estrogen blocker side effects
Most short-term use complaints are usually just the body getting used to a medication and so initial bouts of hot flashes, nausea, dizziness, constipation, and headaches may manifest. But this is short-lived for most people, although for a small percentage of people, these symptoms remain.
As mentioned above, serious health issues can arise with long-term side effects such as depression, osteoporosis, joint pain, blood clots, bone demineralization, increased risk of strokes and heart disease, and even certain cancers.
Final thought on estrogen blockers
Now that you have a good running knowledge of what estrogen dominance is, how your body’s hormones operate, what estrogen blockers are, and how they help you in regaining a healthy hormone balance, the next steps become much easier to make.
If possible, get a hormone test done that measures both your testosterone and estrogen levels. If symptoms aren’t quite so severe, you can safely start off with a supplement or two. If the symptoms/conditions are extreme, consult your primary care physician. Whatever your next steps are, the most important thing is to take action if you think you have an estrogen dominance condition. Take your first steps today.