Estrogen is to women like dark chocolate and romantic comedies. And testosterone is practically synonymous with muscle, energy and … sex. But women and men need both hormones to maintain good health, vitality and balance. Women need testosterone to regulate muscle loss, increase energy and strength, and to maintain sex drive. Men need estrogen for bone density, to keep belly fat at bay (a heart disease risk factor) and to sustain HDL levels, the “good cholesterol.”
Are you low E or low T?
Here are some symptoms that could indicate a hormonal imbalance warranting a lab test to get the answer.
When Ladies Lack the Male Hormone
Low-T is a problem for women even though most females would assume they should be testing their estrogen levels. Actually, it’s a good idea to make sure the body is producing appropriate levels of testosterone—and you have good reason to test for low-T if you experience any of these symptoms.
- Lack of sex drive. When testosterone levels dip, so does the desire for sex. That’s why researchers are actually testing certain testosterone supplements to see if they can help deficient women improve sex drive. A 2013 article in the journal Menopause reported on a study where women receiving 25 milligrams of testosterone enanthate for 24 weeks experienced improvements in sexual function, desire, arousal and sexual frequency.
- Stubborn pounds. Women trying to lose weight feel frustrated when a male partner drops the pounds so quickly. What gives? (Testosterone is at play.) Testosterone regulates muscle and fat placement and impacts your ability to develop muscle. Muscle burns fat.
- Low energy. While we can’t point to low testosterone as the reason for dragging—we naturally feel ups and downs throughout the day—scientists are finding that women with low-T are more likely to feel exhausted and less active.
- Trouble sleeping. When hormones are out of balance, sleep can suffer. Men and women with Low T might not pin their restless nights to low testosterone, but we know that lack of it can cause sleep disturbances and insomnia.
Men, Get in Touch with Estrogen Levels
If hormones are to blame, men are more likely to consider low testosterone the culprit of energy loss, belly fat and sleep deficiency. But men should also get estrogen levels checked to be sure hormones are in balance. When men have too much estrogen, obvious symptoms can be going through male menopause and developing the stereotypical “man boobs.” Basically, estrogen is prompting the body to store extra fat and is altering the way muscle and fat are distributed. (Remember, testosterone regulates this and prevents muscle loss.)
A New England Journal of Medicine study showed that low estrogen levels in men could be responsible for increased body fat, diminished sex drive and loss of muscle mass. So men who might be blaming low testosterone for these issues might actually need a boost in estrogen.
Men with low estrogen might notice the following signs, and restoring hormonal balance can improve quality of life and overall health.
- Belly fat. Low estrogen levels in men can cause the body to store fat around the middle, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
- Decreased bone strength. Men with low estrogen could be losing bone mass, increasing the risk of fractures.
- Low sex drive. It’s all about balance with hormones. Low T usually takes the heat for low sex drive, but when men lack estrogen they can also suffer in the bedroom.
Why Get a Confidential Hormone Test?
If you suspect that your body might be out of balance because of the above symptoms, hormones could be the cause. The only way to find out is to get tested for hormones. If you feel uncomfortable talking with your healthcare provider about low estrogen or low testosterone, you can get the test done at a private lab and results are 100% confidential. Affordable, convenient and accurate lab studies can uncover answers to personal health questions. Then, if a red flag is discovered, you can take those results to your doctor to discuss next steps.
For many people, a private lab test to determine if hormone levels are in check is just what they need to gain peace of mind.