Estrogen (or Oestrogen for anyone who speaks the Queen’s English) is a steroid sex hormone, it is the primary sex hormone for women.
It helps regulate the reproductive cycle and is responsible for female sexual characteristics (wider hips, enlarged breasts). It can also increase metabolism while also increasing body fat storage.
There are many of benefits, even some for men who produce a very small amount of estrogen naturally.
Estrogens have been used to treat prostate cancer in men, though excess estrogen has also been shown to cause it .
Estrogen can also help increase bone density, improve cardiovascular health, and prevent fatigue. The point is that in the right amounts, estrogen is an important hormone for women and men.
However, many men suffer from estrogen levels that are too high. This can be caused by a number of factors, and it is the purpose of this article to establish when you should take anti-estrogen supplements.
We will also look at the negative effects of too much estrogen, common causes, and alternative methods for reducing estrogen.
Common Causes of Excess Estrogen
There are a few different causes of excess estrogen production. Many of them all involve a certain enzyme called aromatase.
This enzyme has the ability to convert excess testosterone into estradiol and androstenedione into estrone.
Both estradiol and estrone are estrogen hormones which can be found in men. Basically aromatase enzymes take away lots of testosterone and convert it into estrogen.
Excess aromatase enzymes can be caused by a rare genetic disorder called aromatase excess syndrome (AES) which can lead to short height, gynecomastia, and a more feminine appearance.
They can also be caused by diet, where certain foods such as soy can increase aromatase.
Increased cortisol (from raised stress levels) can increase aromatase, as can alcohol. High levels of alcohol can massively increase aromatase, which is why alcoholics tend to have a lack of muscle mass, and the development of breasts .
Increased body fat levels can massively increase aromatase, as the enzyme can be produced in adipose (fat) tissue.
This often creates a vicious cycle as increased estrogen can further increase body fat! Even the environment can cause increased aromatase, with certain chemicals able to increase aromatase production.
One cause that is common in bodybuilders is testosterone replacement therapy. Where anabolic androgenic streroids are taken to increase testosterone in the body.
This can be used by doctors to treat certain conditions, but it is abused by bodybuilders who take massive doses to build muscle, burn fat, and increase recovery from exercise.
When you take a steroid it will fill your body with testosterone, or testosterone like hormones. This creates bigger muscles etc … but the downside is that your body stops producing testosterone naturally (because what would be the point?).
This is fine while you’re taking the steroids, but you can only do so for about 12 weeks at a time. Afterwards you need to have a 3-4 week break.
In this time, your body produces aromatase to convert that excess testosterone to estrogen.
Because of this, bodybuilders can experience the downsides of high estrogen levels. It is mostly because of bodybuilders that anti-estrogen supplements exist in such numbers.
Side Effects of too much Estrogen
The most well known side effects of excess estrogen is weight gain and the formation of breast tissue (gynecomastia). You can also get water retention, infertility, and erectile dysfunction.
You can also start to lose muscle mass, and your chances of getting a stroke or heart attack increase. Too much estrogen can also cause prostate cancer.
This can really affect overweight or obese men and creates that vicious cycle that we mentioned earlier.
It can also lead to lower testosterone which can increase stress, decrease sleep quality, lead to depression, and fatigue.
For bodybuilders the main issue is a drop in performance, and the effects on their physique.
SERMS vs AI
Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMS) are taken by bodybuilders who are already experiencing the side effects of increased estrogen.
If you feel that you have gained weight, are starting to grow breasts, and are having trouble in the bedroom then a SERM is what you want.
A common SERM is called Tamoxifen (also known as Nolvadex) and it was designed for preventing breast cancer in men and women.
Aromatase inhibitors (AI) are more of a preventative drug. You take aromatase inhibitors to prevent aromatase from being produced in the first place.
Common AIs include Aromasin and Arimidex. These are taken by bodybuilders before competitions to make them look as dry as possible.
Natural Aromatase Inhibitors
Of course you might not want to start taking drugs and instead prefer a natural solution. Luckily there are a lot of ways that your diet can recreate the results.
Cruciferous vegetables are great aromatase inhibitors, as are phytochemicals found in red wine , and celery. In fact there may be as many as 300 foods that can help to inhibit aromatase to different degrees .
You can also buy natural aromatase inhibiting supplements, sometimes these are blends of different ingredients, while other times they are single-ingredient supplements such as; Resveratrol, Grape Seed Extract, and Tongkat Ali .
When Should you take Anti-Aromatase Supplements?
If you are already overweight then you can take them whenever you want to, you already have high levels of aromatase in your body.
You also should consider taking SERMS as they are better at clearing up high levels. You could then take an aromatase inhibitor after reducing your levels, this will help to cut production down while you go about addressing your weight through diet and exercise.
A bodybuilder would need to take an aromatase inhibitor in the lead up to a competition.
They could take a SERM after finishing a 12 week cycle of anabolic steroids to help address the high aromatase levels that would occur when you take massive amounts of testosterone. But they would take an aromatase inhibitor after their last cycle before a competition, this will cut estrogen production down to the lowest amount possible.
Doing this will work really well short term, helping to leave you absolutely ripped and with that dry look that bodybuilders need.
Long term though this can lead to a lot of health issues. So after the competition has finished they would stop taking them.
If you are just a regular gym goer who feels like this might be a good idea to try, then you should first try lowering aromatase naturally.
Cut down on your alcohol intake, reduce aromatase producing foods such as soya, increase your cruciferous vegetable intake, and other aromatase blocking foods. Sleep better, workout more, reduce body fat through diet and exercise.
If this has made some difference but not enough, then you could consider taking natural supplements such as Tongkat Ali, or Resveratrol.
Only after all of these options have been attempted should you consider taking Nolvadex, Aromasin, or Arimidex. They are much more effective, but they also are higher risk.
It is important to remember that men require a certain amount of estrogen in their body, which means that they also require a small amount of aromatase.
Taking aromatase inhibitors can be a smart move for a man who thinks that he has high levels of estrogen, but abusing them can cause a lot of unwanted problems.
It is important to at least try the lower risk, yet less effective options first. An increase in Brussels sprouts could be all you need!
Finding decent aromatase inhibiting drugs without a prescription can be very difficult, but it is possible to buy them online. They aren’t illegal to own in America, but you can’t just walk into a pharmacist and buy a pack. It is for this reason that you should definitely consider trying natural options instead first.
There do seem to be a few synthetic aromatase inhibitors that are now legal to buy through the supplement industry, they may not be quite as powerful as the prescription versions, but will be superior to natural inhibitors and dietary choices.
Of course prevention is better than removal, so try to maintain a low body fat percentage, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, and improve your sleep and stress levels.
Not only will it prevent increased aromatase production, it will also give you a better body and leave you healthier than ever before.
I would also recommend avoiding anabolic steroids too, the list of side effects associated with their use is too large to ignore. Luckily there are other options available.
There is a company called Crazy Bulk who sell a range of “legal steroids” that aim to promote side effect free muscle and strength gains.
One of their most popular products is D-Bal, which is a safe and legal alternative to Dianabol. An anabolic steroid shown to cause numerous side effects.
D-Bal is made from proven ingredients that include numerous BCAAs, Whey Protein Concentrate and Tribulus Terrestris. When these ingredients are combined nitrogen retention will improve leading to an increase in protein synthesis within your body.
Other benefits of D-bal include:
- An increase in strength and muscle gains
- Better endurance
- More nitrogen retained
- Extra blood flow and additional oxygen sent to your muscles
If you are in any doubt about the effectiveness of D-Bal then you only need to read the numerous testimonials on the Crazy Bulk website. These testimonials will go a long way to reassure you of its benefits.