Sex Hormones in Men—Testosterone, Estrogen, SHBG, and Progesterone

June 1, 2021
Sex Hormones in Men—Testosterone, Estrogen, SHBG, and Progesterone While the most well-known sex hormone in men is testosterone, there are a number of sex hormones that play a role in a man’s body.

Testosterone in Men

Testosterone is the most well-known male hormone in men’s bodies. Testosterone plays a critical role in regulating:
  • Muscle and bone strength
  • Muscle growth
  • Sexual function
  • Fertility
  • Regulation of fat (both amount and distribution)
  • Production of red blood cells
When testosterone levels are too low, men may experience the following symptoms:
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Inability to maintain an erection or weak erections
  • Fatigue
  • Mild depression or low mood
  • Mild anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Increased body fat
  • Inability to gain muscle or decreased muscle mass
  • Mood swings
  • Anemia
Low testosterone levels are estimated to affect over 40% of men aged 45 and over. When levels are low, testosterone replacement therapy may be indicated.

Estrogen in Men

While estrogen does indeed appear in the bodies of men and plays a critical role, its levels are much lower than in a woman’s body. Further, high estrogen in men can cause a number of negative symptoms, as can low estrogen. Symptoms of high estrogen levels in men are often similar to low testosterone in men and include:
  • Low muscle mass
  • Inability to gain muscle
  • Increased body fat, especially visceral fat (fat around the abdomen)
  • Development of breast tissue
  • Erectile dysfunction (inability to achieve or maintain an erection)
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats or sweating in general
The symptoms of low estrogen in men are almost identical, with the added problem of bone loss (or even osteoporosis). Estrogen and testosterone levels must both be balanced in men to alleviate these symptoms.

Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) in Men

Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is a protein that attaches itself to sex hormones and controls the amount of these hormones that are available for your tissues to use. The importance of SHBG is that, when levels are too high or too low, the amount of sex hormones circulating in your blood stream can be affected. This means that, even if your total testosterone levels or estrogen levels are normal, the amount your body can actually use is low or high, leading to symptoms.

Progesterone in Men

While progesterone is normally associated with pregnancy in women, it also plays a role in men’s bodies. Progesterone is a precursor hormone in men’s bodies, which means that it’s required to create testosterone in a man’s body. Low progesterone levels can lead to low testosterone or estrogen levels, which can then result in symptoms. For men, a progesterone test may be indicated as low progesterone may lead to estrogen dominance.

Learn More About Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Learn more about how testosterone replacement therapy for men can help you feel like yourself again.