If you’ve heard of aromatase before, it’s likely been in the context of women’s health and breast cancer. Often aromatase inhibitors are used to help prevent growth of hormone-related breast cancers. However, aromatase is important when it comes to men’s health as well!
So, what is aromatase anyway? Aromatase is an enzyme in the body that will actually convert testosterone to estrogen! (Did you know that was even possible?!) While a little bit of aromatase in men is an okay thing, too much of it can start to cause some pretty annoying symptoms. Increased aromatase activity, or hyperaromatization, in men can result in:
- Lower testosterone
- Increased estradiol
- Decreased muscle mass
- Increased total fat mass
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Gynecomastia (breast formation!)
- Brain fog
Sounds like something most men want to sign up for, right? No.
But why does hyperaromatization even happen? Well, we can blame a few things. There is a rare genetic SNP that can cause excess aromatase levels, but the more likely cause is lifestyle choices. Increased belly fat, alcohol consumption, and elevated insulin levels will all ramp up aromatase activity.
So odds are, your highly processed, sugary diet is to blame for your low testosterone levels! Interestingly, testosterone replacement therapy can ALSO increase aromatase activity! So you might be paying a lot of money to have testosterone injections just to have your body shunt them directly to estrogens and make the original symptoms even worse.
If you think hyperaromatization might be an issue for you, take a look at your lifestyle choices. Cut the alcohol and highly-processed, highly-inflammatory foods. Avoid clinics that promise you a quick fix without putting in any work. (If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.)
Add in more foods and supplements that naturally inhibit aromatase activity: zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin D are wonderful for this. White button mushrooms, green tea, cruciferous vegetables, and citrus fruits also help to bring down aromatase activity.
While these recommendations are things that almost any man can benefit from, some may need more aggressive treatment and supplementation. A functional medicine provider you trust can help give additional guidance and have you feeling more “manly” in no time!