Hormonal changes are not just for women. Men experience changes too.
The most common effects of mid-life hormone imbalance include lack of energy, emotional fragility, weight gain, muscle loss, erectile dysfunction, and reduced sex drive.
Don’t go through “the change” without awareness and support!
While not as well known as its “cousin” menopause, andropause is the change of life that men go through that is marked by a reduction in male-specific hormones.
Not everyone, though, accepts the idea of “male menopause.” The reasons for the controversy are the differences between menopause and andropause. For example, the hormones in men drop off slowly over time, while hormone in women drop off suddenly. Women also experience a loss of reproductive ability, while men may or may not lose this ability. Perhaps society’s stereotypes have convinced the majority that men are supposed to “tough out” the changes while women should be more sensitive to them.
Regardless of the reason for scientists playing catch-up with andropause, men do undoubtedly go through some rather dramatic physical and emotional changes and these changes can have a dramatic impact on their health and wellbeing.
What is Andropause?
Men start losing testosterone at the rate of about 1 percent per year after the age of nineteen1. Starting as early as 20 years old, men start to lose sex hormones, including testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and others2. By the time they reach their 50th year, they have lost around 25 percent of the hormone level they had when they were younger. The symptoms that result from this hormone loss are many3:
- Physical: fatigue, hot flashes, premature aging of skin and hair, loss of muscle volume/strength, frailty, increase in body fat, loss of bone mass, loss of night time erections.
- Mental: sleep disturbances, depression, anger and irritability, loss of sense of wellbeing, anxiety, loss of sex drive, reduced mental/physical energy, loss of memory and concentration.
- Other: increase risk of falls and fracture, increased heart disease, osteoporosis and high cholesterol.
These symptoms in men are often shrugged off as a mid-life or late-life crisis because men will often act out when these symptoms arise, but that attitude belittles the suffering that underlies those symptoms. Remember that men have a shorter lifespan than women and have a higher rate of many diseases including heart attacks, certain cancer and other diseases; elderly men are also more likely to take their own lives. 4
What about the Prostate?
Many men are concerned about their prostate and for good reason. By the time men turn 60, 20 percent of them have an enlarged prostate (begin prostatic hypertrophy or BPH). The life-time risk for prostate cancer is just as high, with one in six (one in four for black men) who will have prostate cancer; nearly 30,000 men die each year from the disease. 5
The prostate is involved in both urinary and sexual functioning and can interfere with either activity if it is not healthy.
Andropause is a mixed bag when discussing prostate health. It is generally recognized that the higher the testosterone levels, the higher the risk for prostate hypertrophy and potentially cancer. It would appear that andropause and a drop in testosterone would be good for the prostate, but increased body fat, low sex drive, reduced energy all increase the possibility of BPH and prostate cancer.
What to do About Andropause
Take a look at the symptoms above and see if any of them apply to you. If so, you need to get your hormone levels checked. Easily performed saliva tests can show your doctor where you are at, and in turn, will direct therapies to correct dysfunction. Hormone assessments and bioidentical hormones are effective ways to address the issues of andropause and put aging men on a healthier path.
Under Chronic Stress, the HPA glands increase their output of cortisol—often referred to as the “stress hormone.” The principal hormones produced by the HPA glands share a common precursor, the master hormone called pregnenolone. Under stress, your HPA glands are hyperstimulated and pregnenolone is diverted (stolen) from the pathways that produce the principal hormones (such as testosterone, DHT, and DHEA). Instead, the pregnenolone is used to produce cortisol.
This condition is known as “HPA Syndrome.” Your sense of strength and motivation is replaced by weakness and fatigue. Once the body is held captive by these hormone problems, all the symptoms of andropause reveal themselves.
Natural Support for Andropause
- HPA Hormone Balancing: When the HPA glands are performing at their best, the negative effects of male aging are drastically reduced. With saliva based lab tests that measure cortisol and DHEA patterns, natural therapies for hormone balance can be developed. An experienced provider using Functional Medicine methods can fine tune a bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) to recapture your dynamic energy and masculine traits.
- Weight Loss: There is no doubt that everyone is healthier when they maintain a healthy weight and this is especially true for men going through andropause.
- Stay sexually active: ‘Use it or lose it’ is especially true for men and their sex hormones.
- Exercise: Strenuous exercise is especially called for men.
- Prostate Care: Take care of your prostate with saw palmetto, zinc, pumpkin seeds, magnesium and other nutrients.