Andropause is the term that many people use for “male menopause.”
This term is a misnomer because men certainly don’t have the type of hormone output that women experience as they age. Women experience an abrupt drop in their hormone levels and thus sometimes significant symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, depression, and less mental alertness.
What men go through is actually a gradual decline in their ability to produce their androgen hormones such as DHEA and testosterone. Other important hormones such as Androstenedione, Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and progesterone may also decline or shift. Thus men may gradually become less androgen-dominant. The symptoms come on gradually and most men may not associate their symptoms with a decline in hormone production. Many men will first notice this decline as a gradual loss of stamina and initiative. Other symptoms may also be observed, such as:
• Decrease in libido
• Erectile issues
• Mental fatigue and tiredness
• A shift in energy and strength
• High blood sugar levels
• Increase in triglycerides and cholesterol
• Increase fat distribution – middle section, breast area and/or hips
• Inability to concentrate
• Muscle soreness
• High blood pressure
• Sweating attacks
• Changes in visual acuity
• Stiff joints
The real issue
The levels of androgen production can be the reason why some men will age with complete vitality, vigor, and virility, while others will not. In fact, this decline can happen in men as young as twenty. Many health practitioners are currently seeing low levels of testosterone and DHEA in young men even in their teens.
Besides the symptoms, men have another issue to face. Managed care does not routinely measure hormone levels, not associate the pattern of symptoms as andropause. Men are usually treated for each health issue separately, such as weight loss, high cholesterol, depression, and fatigue. Medications may be prescribed to lower cholesterol and manage depression. Men are told to lose weight and their fatigue is dismissed as just a part of life.
Giving exogenous synthetic testosterone may merely increase testosterone, but may not solve the problem. Andropause is a much more complex issue as many factors and body systems are involved in the patterns associated with it. These factors may include: liver detoxification, estrogen metabolism, gastrointestinal bacteria activity, adrenal function, and enzyme activity that leads to hormone production.
How Do We Test?
The best way to address this issue is to first test hormone levels through a saliva profile. Blood tests are more limited in scope as only testosterone and DHEA are normally tested. Saliva testing, on the other hand, includes DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, DHT, and more. Testing all of these markers gives a better idea of the patterns of imbalance and some of the underlying causes of imbalance.
The Health Effects
So, why address this health issue? Since testosterone travels to every part of the body, it has a positive impact on so many systems in the body and on many areas of health. Besides hormone health, heart protection is a major function of testosterone. In fact, there are more cellular sites for receiving testosterone in the heart than any other muscle. As testosterone levels decline, cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase, arterial plaque increases, insulin levels increase, and there is increased obesity and increased estrogen levels. [2005:Kharrazian]
Bone density and the manufacture of bone depend upon adequate amounts of testosterone along with the rest of the androgen hormones. Prostate health, muscle body mass, libido, and mood all depend upon healthy androgen levels. Not only that, but healthy androgen levels are necessary for lifelong vitality! It isn’t enough just to address testosterone levels. If only testosterone levels are addressed, the underlying imbalances that created the hormone imbalance will not be addressed.
Five of the most important imbalances to address are:
• High levels of estrogen
• Liver detoxification
• Stress and adrenal imbalances
• Exposure to xenoestrogens
• Blood sugar issues
Too Much Estrogen
The reason that men lose their androgen dominance is that testosterone turns into estrogen at a higher than normal rate. The key for men is to produce adequate levels of testosterone and only a small amount of estrogen. In andropause, the body turns testosterone into estrogen at too high a rate and men lose their “androgen dominance.”
Stress Hormone Imbalances
Other big reasons for a loss of androgen dominance are adrenal hormone imbalances. Even though the gonads make testosterone, much of the testosterone production also comes from DHEA, an adrenal hormone, which turns into testosterone. As men age, more and more of their androgen hormones are synthesized from the adrenal hormones. Thus, if the adrenal output is healthy, then the androgen hormone output is healthy. Among the foremost ways to create androgen balance is therefore to identify adrenal gland imbalances and to support healthy functioning of the adrenal glands.
Call today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jeremy Schmoe DC to uncover any underlying imbalances in your physiology. http://www.schmoechiropractic.com