The primary male and female hormones can be categorized as estrogens or androgens. Both classes of hormones are present in both women and men alike, but in completely different amounts. Usually, men produce between 6-8mg of testosterone (an androgen) per day, while women produce just 0.5mg. One the other hand, estrogen, which is a female hormone, is dominant in women, and only small amounts are found in men.
However, estrogen is a necessary hormone for all men, but, like most things, an excess of it causes a wide range of health problems. The biggest risk of estrogen dominance and low testosterone levels come from the increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
In other cases, the production of testosterone slows down while estrogen production increases. Medication is responsible for about 20 percent of cases of this type of man boobs. Gynecomastia in newborns is generally caused by excess estrogen from their mothers.
Normally, testosterone levels decline as we age. It is also affected by our lifestyles and food choices. Sometimes aging men also experience an increase of estrogen in their bodies which create a hormonal imbalance and evoke a range of health problems normally associate with aging.
It is interesting to note that most men are surprised about the fact that estrogen is needed for normal body operation and, in fact, healthy amounts of it are essential for strong libido, good brain function, healthy heart and strong bones. At the same time, high levels of estrogen are known to reduce testosterone, cause fatigue and the loss of muscles, increase body fat and hasten the loss of libido and sexual function.
Here are some other effects of high estrogen development in your body:
1. It shuts down natural production of testosterone by saturating testosterone receptors.
2. Increases body’s production of sex hormone-binding globulin, which lowers the amount of free testosterone in your body.
3. Increases the chances of diabetes, heart diseases and in some cases even cancer (specifically the prostate cancer).
There are many things that can contribute to changing the balance between estrogen and testosterone in men. These conditions can result from something as simple as aging, or as serious as some types of tumors. Excess estrogen tricks the male’s body into increasing the tissues in the breast. In fact some men with gynecomastia may even produce milk.
Some types of cancer that affect men are estrogen-producing, that is, they increase the levels of the hormone in men. One such example is testicular cancer, or tumors in glands such as the thyroid and pituitary glands. Other diseases can also affect the distribution of estrogen and testosterone in the body leading to man boobs.
Another reason put forward for estrogen-causing gynecomastia is the food that is consumed. It is believed that the hormone given to poultry and cows to make them bigger increases the amount of estrogen in men. The theory is still being researched to confirm conclusively that this is so.
There may be some truth to this theory however, since it is known that some medications can increase estrogen production in men. These include some types of antidepressants, reserpine and even corticosteroids. Changing these medications can sometimes result in man boobs disappearing or becoming less prominent.
Normally a medical examination is needed to determine the cause of this distressing condition. Luckily, in most teenage boys the condition disappears on its own. The fluctuation in hormonal levels during puberty usually begins to taper off as boys get older. This allows their bodies to adjust the level of testosterone needed for masculinity.