Here's Why Men Should Care About Estradiol and Progesterone

By Yuchen He, June 12, 2024

Hormone balance (1)

In the world of men's health, certain hormones are often overlooked: estradiol and progesterone. You read that right—these hormones, typically associated with women's health, play pivotal roles in men's well-being. While testosterone is a critical hormone in men's health, its lesser-known counterparts are also responsible for functions in the male body. They can affect bone health, sexual health, and mood.

Here's the thing: many men go through life unsure of what their hormone levels are. So, they miss out on critical insights into their health. In this age of personalized health, knowing your numbers isn't just a "nice to have"; it's a powerful tool for optimizing your well-being as you age.

In this article, we unpack the research on estradiol and progesterone related to men's health. We'll explore what these hormones do, why tracking their levels is important, and how you can fine-tune them through lifestyle habits.

Understanding estradiol and progesterone

Multiple blood biomarkers in the male body contribute to a man’s overall hormone balance. Most popularly, testosterone is a marker associated with growth, cognitive function, and sexual health. Estradiol and progesterone are also hormone makers present in the male body (and can even impact testosterone levels, as they are connected). 

What is estradiol?

Estradiol is the predominant form of estrogen. It performs many functions throughout the body, like sexual health, bone health, and more. Testosterone is a precursor to estradiol, meaning estradiol is produced from testosterone already present in the body. Having adequate testosterone levels is necessary to make enough estradiol. [1]

What is progesterone?

Progesterone is a steroid hormone that supports the development of sperm and the formation of testosterone. Much like estradiol, its functions span many processes throughout the body, like sperm cell development, hormone creation, and mood regulation. [2]

What are normal estradiol and progesterone levels for men?

See below for the general reference range (the level determined as “clinically normal”) for estradiol and progesterone levels in men.

Normal levels of estradiol

The general reference range for estradiol levels in men ≤39 pg/mL. That said, the average population level of total estradiol is 10-50 pg/mL. Studies show that estradiol levels may shift with age. Age-specific averages in healthy men in the US from 1999 to 2004 being: [1]

  • 20–39 years: 31.3 pg/mL
  • 40–59 years: 30.5 pg/mL
  • ≥60 years: 27 pg/mL

Normal levels of progesterone

The general reference range for progesterone levels in men is <1.4 ng/mL. [2]

When it comes to the impact of aging on progesterone levels—the evidence is mixed. Some studies have found a correlation between age and progesterone levels, while others did not see significant change. [3-7]. 

In men, progesterone helps to counteract and balance estradiol levels, as excess estradiol can lead to bone loss, erectile dysfunction, low mood, and fatigue. [7]

Health implications of estradiol and progesterone levels in men

The impacts of estradiol and progesterone span multiple processes throughout the body: cognition, bone health and fracture risk, sexual health, and more. Here, we unpack the research to show how estradiol and progesterone levels can influence men's health.

Mood: Estradiol levels may impact mood. Studies show an interaction between estradiol levels and serotonin (a mood-boosting hormone) in men. [8]

Creativity and memory: A small study showed that estradiol improved certain aspects of cognitive functions, such as creative thinking and verbal memory function, for men of older age. [9] 

Sexual performance: Both high and low estradiol levels can impact sexual performance in men. Clinically high estradiol is linked to an increased incidence of erectile dysfunction. Low levels of both estradiol and testosterone are also linked to low libido. [10-11] 

Fertility: Having either clinically high or low progesterone levels can affect fertility in  men. [12]

Bone health: While elevated estradiol is not desirable, low estradiol levels are also linked with health concerns, such as lower bone density among men over 60 years old. Men with total estradiol levels below 31 pg/mL had higher bone resorption markers and rates of bone loss compared to men with higher estradiol levels. Another study showed that low estradiol levels (2 - 18 pg/ml) were linked with a nearly 6-fold increased risk of hip fracture. [13-15]

Body fat: Lower estradiol levels (< 15pg/ml) may also be associated with having more body fat in men. Even short-term estradiol deficiency was associated with increased fat mass. Another study found that those with a higher BMI, waist circumference, and subcutaneous fat tend to have lower progesterone. [16-17] 

Inflammation: High progesterone levels (typically induced by certain progesterone-containing medications) were associated with increased hsCRP levels (a general inflammation marker). [18-20]

How to improve estradiol and progesterone levels in men

Some research points to the impacts of certain lifestyle factors on balancing hormones in men. Let's explore evidence-based, lifestyle tips to keep these hormones optimal.

Reduce alcohol intake: Higher alcohol consumption is associated with higher estradiol levels in men. Consuming more than 7 alcohol-containing beverages per week is linked to higher estradiol levels, along with lower sperm volume and reduced levels of testosterone and other reproductive hormones. [21-22]

Increase fiber intake: A diet high in insoluble fiber may help to improve other markers of men’s health. Insoluble fiber lowered estradiol after a 4-month dietary intervention and also increased a marker of steroid clearance. [23]

No need to avoid soy and isoflavones: Despite concerns about soy products affecting male hormone levels, a comprehensive meta-analysis showed that neither soy products nor isoflavone supplements have a significant impact on testosterone, estradiol, or estrone levels in men. [24] 

*If your estradiol and progesterone levels are out of range, speak with your healthcare provider. The information provided in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition.

Key takeaways

  • Estradiol and progesterone are pivotal in men's health, influencing mood, cognition, sexual function, bone density, and body composition.
  • Many men are unaware of their hormone levels. In today's age of personalized health, knowing your estradiol and progesterone numbers is key to optimizing your well-being as you age.
  • Certain lifestyle habits like alcohol intake can influence estradiol and progesterone levels.
  • Consult your healthcare provider if your hormone levels are out of range. They can interpret your results and guide personalized strategies for hormonal balance.


  2. Burtis CA, Ashwood RE, eds. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Co, 1999

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