What Happens When a Male Takes Female Hormones?

Updated November 21, 2016

Women possess the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and even testosterone, which is a male hormone, and men also possess oestrogen to a degree. However, an excessive amount of oestrogen, which is the definitive female hormone, can have a detrimental and harmful effect on a man's body.

Why Men Need Some Estrogen

Oestrogen is produced in small amounts in men. It helps in the body's conversion process of testosterone, the male hormone. In order to have an optimal libido, men need oestrogen. Oestrogen also helps the mail brain function property, maintains strong bones and regulates the heart rate.


When oestrogen levels are too high in a man's body, this can cause sexual dysfunction, prostate problems, loss of libido and weight gain. Testosterone actually shuts down operation if oestrogen levels become too high in a man's body and that isn't good. Men need testosterone because it enables absorption of vitamin D and calcium into their body and helps with brain function. Men require very little oestrogen.


High oestrogen levels and low testosterone put a man at risk for prostate cancer and brain, liver and heart problems. Too much oestrogen can result in breast and bone cancer. Men can get breast cancer, too.


Oestrogen has feminising effects and can result in the development of breasts, which is called gynaecomastia, shrillness of the voice and mood swings. Gynaecomastia means "woman and "breast" or abnormally big breasts on a man. If you take oestrogen, expect to experience these female attributes.


There are several reasons why a man might start producing too much oestrogen and not enough testosterone, according to the Mayo Clinic. Medications can be the culprit, as can health conditions as well as a change in natural hormones. Medications that can increase oestrogen and result in gynaecomastia include anti-androgens that are prescribed to treat cancer, prostate enlargement and other conditions; heart medications and calcium channel blockers; AIDS medications; anti-anxiety drugs, tricyclic antidepressants; ulcer medication and antibiotics. Taking steroids can increase a man's breast size as can amphetamines, heroin, marijuana and alcohol.

Contributing Factors

Health conditions that alter a man's hormonal balance can lead to feminising characteristics, such as large breasts, include tumours; the act of ageing; hypodonadism, which occurs when there is interference in testosterone production; when a man is overweight; kidney failure has occurred or hyperthyroidism is present. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine, which is a hormone.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.