Frequently I hear women say- men are so lucky not only do not have periods but they do not have to experience the “joys” of menopause. But do men really escape unscathed? Recent evidence now reveals that men indeed experience hormonal changes that may produce health and quality of life changes. This is often referred to as andropause (male menopause).
The symptoms that may be often experienced by men are mood changes, some form of erectile dysfunction, changes in libido, increase in body fat to muscle ratio and the dreaded “pot belly or dad bod.”
Men may start experiencing decline in their hormonal levels as early as the 3rd decade of life. DHEA and Testosterone are two of the hormones that may start changing. The interesting thing to note here is that estrogen (a hormone frequently associated with women) can begin to increase as a man ages. The end result may be symptoms that are commonly, at first glance, associated with low testosterone levels such decreased libido, weight gain, possibility of increase risk of diabetes or insulin resistance and perhaps even prostate enlargement.
Many times a man who sits in front of the TV for long periods is not a testament to the amazing power of TV to inform and entertain; but, may be the only indication he will give you that he is experiencing some hormonal changes. Other signs that men may be experiencing hormonal imbalance may be agitation, disinterest in sexual activity, prominent mammary glands , abdominal weight gain, blood sugar imbalances and mood changes to name a few.
As a man or a woman who is concerned about the man in her life, what should you do if you start experiencing changes that you believe could be attributed to hormonal changes?
Step one– Consult your physician to be evaluated for things such as diabetes, vascular disease, prostate health, etc.
Step two– If all is well, start an exercise program. Exercise has been shown to produce endorphins that help to counteract the effect of the stress hormone cortisol and can help induce a relaxation response. Some studies suggest that exercise may also increase testosterone levels naturally.
Step 3– Really make stress management a priority. Studies are supporting what we have known all along- a hectic, busy, over committed life has a negative impact on libido.
Step 4– Revamp your diet. Poor eating habits can contribute to fatigue and low energy. This, of course, can affect sexual response. Studies also show that increase in weight can lead to a decrease in testosterone levels.
Step 5– Finally, get your hormonal levels evaluated. This should include not only testosterone but estrogen level as well. Many times addressing high estrogen levels may be a valuable part of your treatment plan. Keep in mind that estrogen levels can be affected by the foods we eat, the health of our gut and most certainly by weight. This is true for both men and women.
In summary, hormonal imbalances in men are often reflective of more than just low testosterone levels. Other hormones, such as your thyroid hormone, the health of your liver, gut and nutrition can play a significant role as well. Work with someone who is willing to do a comprehensive approach to maximize your health.