I’ve discussed the condition estrogen dominance numerous times on my website, as many people have this condition, and this includes both men and women. This frequently is due to a deficiency in progesterone, but it can also be due to an excess of estrogen. This is especially true when people take bioidentical hormones. In any case, I’ve been asked by some people whether or not taking aromatase inhibitors can effectively prevent estrogen dominance from developing.
Before I answer this, it’s probably a good idea to explain what an aromatse inhibitor is for those people who aren’t familar with these. Aromatase is an enzyme which helps in the production of the estrogens, as it specifically converts testosterone to estradiol, and androstenedione to estrone. There are drugs specifically manufactured to help inhibit the conversion process, which of course is why they are called aromatase inhibitors. There are also some natural aromatase-inhibitors which I will discuss shortly.
When Are Aromatase Inhibitors Used?
They are used in numerous different conditions. For example, since breast and ovarian cancer involve the hormone estrogen, aromatase inhbitors are commonly used in the treatment of these conditions. Body builders also may use these when taking steroids, as if they don’t take an aromatase inhibitor then the excess testosterone will convert to estradiol, which will result in estrogen dominance. Some medical doctors will give these drugs to their patients when recommending bioidentical testosterone to address a deficiency. In all of these examples, the goal is to preven the formation of estrogen.
If you have been a long time visitor to my website then it shouldn’t surprise you that I’m not a big fan of aromatase inhibitors. I’m not saying that in some cases they aren’t necessary to use, but they of course don’t get to the underlying cause of the problem. For example, if someone has low testosterone levels and is given bioidentical testosterone to bring up the levels, and then is given an aromatase inhibitor to prevent the testosterone from converting to estradiol, then this isn’t addressing the cause of the low hormone levels. Once again, I’m not suggesting that it’s never necessary to give bioidentical testosterone. On the other hand, I know some doctors who will give it to every single patient, even if they don’t show a deficiency. I definitely don’t agree with this approach.
Side Effects Of Aromatase Inhibitors:
Of course just as is the case with most prescription drugs, there are potential side effects. Some of the common side effects include fatigue, joint and muscle pain, as well as hot flashes and night sweats. There are also other less common side effects one might experience.
How About Using Natural Aromatase Inhibitors?
There are also natural aromatase inhibitors, and I’ve had some people ask me as to whether these are effective in preventing estrogen dominance from occurring. Natural aromatase inhibitors can be effective, but it depends on the situation. For example, if someone is addressing a low testosterone condition by giving small amounts of bioidentical hormones, then a natural aromatase inhibitor can prevent the conversion from happening. Of course if one is taking a small amount of testosterone then one shouldn’t need to worry about excessive conversion to estradiol.
Some natural aromatase inhibitors are more effective than others. For example, flaxseed oil is an effective aromatase inhibitor due to the high concentration of lignans. Flavinoids can also be effective, along with pumpkin seed extract. In fact, when I attended a seminar by Dr. David Brownstein, who uses bioidentical hormones a great deal in his practice, he stated that “Pumpkin seed extract has been shown to reduce aromatase by 50%”. He also mentioned how pycnogenols have been effective at blocking estradiol production.
So hopefully you have a better understanding of how aromatase inhibitors work, and realize that while they might be necessary at times, the overall goal should be to get to the cause of the problem so they won’t be needed. And if it is necessary to take an aromatase inhibitor, then you might want to consider some of the natural options I discussed in this post.
George Lewis says
A quick quetion, have you ever seen a dramatic increase in TSH( from normal to 5x ULN) when an aromatase inhibitor has been used in a fertility clinic