What is Andropause?
We’ve all heard of menopause; that dreaded time of life for women when they feel like something or someone else has taken over our bodies.
As early as their 30’s, women can experience mood swings, fatigue, mental fog, depression, weight gain, night sweats and low libido. A decade or so later, hot ashes can begin and the misery steps up a notch!
What about the guys in all of this mess? Why don’t they have to suffer like we do? Don’t they age too?
Well, the answer is ABSOLUTELY! On average, males begin hormone decline at age 35, losing up to 5% of testosterone production per year. Why is this important? Isn’t testosterone just for sexual health? Not necessarily. Testosterone, produced primarily by the male testicles and by the female ovaries, and to a lesser degree by the adrenal glands (yes ladies females make and NEED testosterone!), has many functions in our bodies beyond sexual health. Testosterone is primarily a BRAIN hormone. As we age and testosterone production declines, we feel those brain symptoms!
Do any of these sound familiar?
Mental fog, decreased mental clarity and difficulty focusing, memory loss, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, extreme fatigue (especially in the afternoon), just to name a few! Men do not typically lose their sex drive, so don’t use that as a marker for hormone balance!
Women AND men experience varying degrees of these symptoms, and it can significantly decrease our overall sense of wellbeing and wreak havoc on relationships of all kinds!
Often, when people seek help from their primary practitioners, they are band-aided with antidepressants, sleeping and anti-anxiety pills and a host of other medications. These drugs have side effects such as weight gain, “zombie like” state, dependency for sleep, decreased sex drive and so forth, not a good remedy! Furthermore, they do not address the root problem that is causing the complaints!
Several studies show bio-identical testosterone protects many disease states! Men with low testosterone are 3 times more likely to get Alzheimer’s dementia, women are at a higher risk. Studies show men over 55 with higher levels of testosterone demonstrated significant reduction in coronary artery disease and heart attacks. Testosterone builds bone by up to 8.3% per year, preventing and reversing osteopenia and osteoporosis.
What about middle age belly fat? Low testosterone increases cortisol and insulin levels, which increases fat and the risk of type 2 diabetes! Further, for women, countless studies shows testosterone protects the breasts from cancer. Breast cancer tissue can have both estrogen and insulin receptors, bio-identical testosterone has been shown to down-regulate estrogen receptors in the breasts and decrease insulin levels. The more we study this vital hormone, the more we learn it protects the brain, breasts, bones, heart and decreases the risk of a host of age related disease states!
So how do I know if I my hormones are out of whack? First of all, seek an expert in hormone balance. If you feel poorly, pay attention to how you feel and think twice about filling the prescriptions given to quell symptoms if they tell you “your hormones are normal”. What is “normal” for the average population in your age group may not be “normal”, or optimal, for you. For instance, we know an optimal testosterone level in males is around 900-1200 (ten times higher than women), a “normal” lab reference range can be anywhere from 200-1200 for men, depending on the reporting lab! Men are typically symptomatic under 600 and women under 80, but that’s in the “normal range!”
You also want to consider a natural hormone balance method that keeps your levels in the optimal range 24/7. That is where we see the long term health bene ts stated above. Methods that put your hormones on a roller coaster by taking something every day, or a shot every week, although sometimes better than nothing, don’t give us the bene t of balanced hormones 24 hours a day. Additionally, complete thyroid panels and vitamin D3 levels should be checked as there is a synergy between them all. Again, “normal” reference ranges may not be optimal for you.
The message here is, pay attention to how you feel, educate yourself, do your research, and most importantly, find a practitioner who will sit down with you, listen and help you understand what is happening during this time in your life and how to best address it without adding a multitude of unnecessary medications and side effects.