Dr. Paul Stallone reveals the symptoms and natural treatments for the male version of menopause.
by Dr. Paul Stallone
The male version of menopause, called andropause, typically begins around 40 to 55 years of age, but has been reported in men as young as 35. Like all male hormonal imbalances, there are symptoms men may experience. Muscle loss, fatigue, reduced libido, depression, hot flashes, irritability/anger, sleep disturbances, memory loss, weight gain, changes in hair/skin, premature aging and erectile dysfunction have all been reported with the decline of male hormones.
These symptoms, and the amount and type of hormones lost, vary greatly from man to man. Low testosterone can be a serious issue as the condition may put certain men at an increased risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and diabetes.
Unlike female menopause, which is a complete and permanent physiological shutdown of a woman’s reproductive system, andropause is a very subtle decline in testosterone and other hormone levels that occurs in aging men. Men normally experience a 1 percent loss of testosterone per year after the age of 30, but with other factors like environmental pollution and/or obesity, it can increase considerably. Just as some women may require hormonal replacement therapy, men can also benefit from hormonal balancing. Research has indicated around 5 million men are affected each year, but only 5 to 10 percent seek treatment.
Low levels of testosterone or any suspected hormonal imbalance should be confirmed by a knowledgeable physician with blood or saliva testing. Hormones play a much bigger role than we think, so testing is vital in order to properly evaluate levels. Hormones don’t just work by themselves; they join with other hormones as part of a complex system, so additional tests may be ordered to fully determine correct treatment.
Hormone levels are influenced by many factors, most of which are lifestyle choices. A diet high in fat and low in fiber content may have a negative effect on testosterone production and not provide essential minerals needed to guide hormone production. Smoking is related to low levels of testosterone because the nicotine and other substances found in cigarettes increase an enzyme that deactivates male hormones. Excessive alcohol may increase estrogen levels while decreasing levels of testosterone. Chronic stress is one of the biggest factors affecting hormonal imbalances in men and women because when chronically stressed, the adrenal glands are constantly producing cortisol instead of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which plays a significant role in the production of male hormones. If a man is stressed daily, he won’t have enough DHEA to produce his male hormones. Too much cortisol may cause the replacement of muscle with fat and/or blood sugar imbalances.
More men now are receiving treatment and seeing a reduction or elimination of their symptoms. Depending on the deficiency, a diet change might be sufficient. There are also great supplements that naturally and safely increase production of hormones. It may be best to avoid synthetic hormones because they can generate harsh side effects and contain animal hormones. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is available by pill or cream and is biologically the same as the hormones produced in the human body.
Any treatment program should start with a visit to a trusted physician. Treating a hormonal imbalance without being monitored and tested is a fast way to cause irreparable damage and may cause another deficiency or other serious health conditions. The physician can give support and guidance about the endocrine system and its intricate workings.