The gonads, testes and ovaries, play a huge role in how the endocrine system works. And we seem to be doing everything we can to put them on the disabled list. We need to talk about this.

Everybody has–and needs–estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Now, obviously men and women, boys and girls have different levels of these hormones. But who knows how long that’s going to last? Testosterone levels have fallen way, way down over the last forty years or so. Estrogen levels, meanwhile, have skyrocketed.

Our bodies, though, prefer the original plan and really put up a stink about what’s happening. And when one part of the endocrine system gets unhappy, they all do.

Women get to deal with PMS, endometriosis and a difficult menopause. Little boys suffer through lifelong low testosterone and fertility problems. Little girls make a precocious leap for puberty–at which point, they start with the PMS, difficult periods, etc. Men, not to be left out, start converting testosterone into estrogen, develop breasts–aka moobs–and lose their libido. And everybody heads for the cancer line: Males for prostate cancer and women for cancers of one or more of the female organs, particularly the breast.

Why in the world are we doing this to ourselves? And how?

First, a brief lesson on how the endocrine system works. Endocrine glands emit hormones as needed. The hormones roam about until they find a receptor that fits, a kind of lock and key arrangement. Locking in releases the hormone’s power and glory.

But if a pretender hormone locks into the receptor before the real thing comes along, it takes the receptor out of play. The real hormone has no place to go. Some hormones simply wash out, which is problem enough, but not estrogen. It gets seriously unhappy and starts making trouble. Big trouble.

Unfortunately, we live in a world of bogus pretender-estrogen, but we simply don’t realize we’re surrounded by enemies.

Here’s a pretender-estrogen enemies list
• Soy is enemy #1. It’s everywhere, in most of our food and some of our lotions and potions. It strips away our minerals, depresses the thyroid gland and pours a boatload of bogus estrogen into us. Food manufacturers try to cover it up by using a variety of names. Just know it’s in all processed foods–fast food, chain restaurant food, any meal you buy in a box or the grocery store freezer.
• Flax is soy’s equally ugly cousin.
• Phthalate, the additive that makes plastic soft and pliable–as in a baby’s teething ring, baby bottles and medical tubing–and a world of other stuff, including perfumes. The FDA started talking about the problem in 1980; so far, though, nothing.
• Plastic containers with a recycle code (in a triangle, usually on the bottom) of 1, 3, or 7. A 1 with PETE below the triangle is said to be okay.
• BPA, another plastic just happy as a clam to mess with our estrogen. It’s used to line the cans for most canned food, in baby bottles (when they’re not using phthalates), kitchen containers, etc.
• Parabens, chemicals added to our lotions and potions to extend shelf life. If you see an ingredient that ends in paraben, put the product back on the shelf and walk away. And don’t you dare put that stuff on children!
• Birth control pills, both those taken on purpose and the second-hand ingredients that enter our homes via the municipal water supply. HRT, too.
• And on, and on.

As I said, we’re surrounded by enemies.

If enough of us catch a clue and start making noise–if only with our spending choices–manufacturers will change the way they do things. In the meantime, protecting our health from bogus estrogen takes some attention and effort.

Or you can just go along and hope for the best. After all, not all smokers get lung cancer, and not all people who play footsy with estrogen end up with their thyroid gland in the dumpster or get breast or prostate cancer. How lucky do you feel?

To read other articles in this endocrine series, search on “This Is Your Endocrine System”

Author's Bio: 

Here’s a fact: Our endocrine system is a nutrition hog. And our diet can’t give us the nutrition we need, no matter how hard we try. To be healthy–and stay healthy–we need to bump up our nutrition with vitamins and minerals. Which brings up another fact: Most of us have no idea what’s good, what’s hype or how to build a balanced program.

Based on years of research and experience, Bette Dowdell wrote an e-book to get you past the vitamin learning curve and into health. Pep for the Pooped: Vitamins and Minerals Your Body Is Starving For helps you build a solid health foundation even if you can’t tell one vitamin from another or explain why we need minerals.

Besides giving you the information you need, the book has links to take you directly to the right brand, the best type, at the lowest price, which will save more money than the cost of the book. To check it out with a free sample chapter, go to