Andropause is fundamentally a part of male aging, and unfortunately declining hormones go with the territory. At their prime, 95% of a man’s testosterone is made from the testicles in response to signals from the brain. By the time men reach the age of around 50, the signal to make more testosterone grows weaker and weaker, and the effect is that aging testes are less likely to respond to those signals. Over time, a man’s total hormones decline in the body, the growing shortage slides to the point where the virility, stamina, and drive we associate with the masculinity declines and causes both confusion and frustration. Highlighting the important role this process plays in the life of the average male, andropause represents the state of deficient hormones, a word that in Greek means “to set in motion”.
Adding to the total decline in hormones commonly cause hormone imbalances. As an example, an excess in estrogen:
Additionally, other complicating factors can come with an excess of cortisol, stress hormones that:
As your hormones begin to malfunction, the first sign of Andropause is often a slight, but noticeable, decrease in strength and energy. Things you used to do with ease become increasingly laborious. What’s more, you might find yourself losing interest and enthusiasm for the things you used to find joyful. That can include the challenge of the work you do, your competitive nature might shut down, and you might find yourself making more excuses to workout or hit the gym. You can likely identify that you’re entering what we call the “Androgen Zone” when the only desirable bedroom activity is a good night’s sleep.
If you think Andropause is at the root of your side effects, you should first document your symptoms. If your symptoms are aligned with those mentioned above, you should first test hormone levels in the Blood Spot. This test will reveal your Total Testosterone, or “T”. It will also look at the functioning of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). You may undergo a PSA – prostrate screening, along with an IGF-1- looking at adult growth hormone deficiency.
Alternatively, you could opt for a saliva test. This would look Testosterone/DHEA (s), estrogen or Etradiol, Progesterone, and both AM and PM cortisol levels.
Both options, the saliva test and the blood spot are equally valid, each providing a reliable index of your Andropause status.
The normal course of a man’s life include the period of andropause, and it’s up to us to beat the negative side effects. Normal aging inevitably slows down the action of androgen by an average around 1-2% per year. While androgen therapy is a solution for many men who didn’t necessarily take the best possible care of themselves at any point in their lives, the best protection against andropause has to do with lifestyle choices throughout life. Did you truly get the recommended level of exercise, both endurance and strength throughout you life? The testes produce nearly 95% of all male testosterone, the rest being supplied by the adrenal glands.
Aging and its effects are natural, but the way we live our lives are highly correlated to the speed at which our bodily declines. Ultimately it comes down to balance. Wherever you are now, don’t make drastic lifestyle changes that are unlikely to stick. Take the necessary steps to restore and maintain balance, and you’ll find your zest for life, one of the core character strengths will rebound.
“By the time the average male reaches the milestone of mid-to late forties, testosterone deficits have already begun to impact stamina, brain power, and sex drive. And those levels, on average, have decreased by an average of 40%!”
Aside from lifestyle changes, what else can you do to balance your hormones? You should work with a doctor to monitor your hormone levels regularly. You may want to speak to your doctor about supplementing, by requesting bioidentical, natural hormones that are familiar to your body.
You can also minimize the foods you eat that rob you of testosterone, such as caffeine, alcohol, or processed sugars. Chronic stress is bad for testosterone production, so you can also raise your heart rate through exercise or other ways you cope with stress healthfully.
If you’re looking for natural ways to boost your testosterone, go to the gym for some weight bearing exercises. You can choose to eat more organic, hormone-free foods, along with taking vitamins and minerals with plenty of zinc. Other easy things to do are to go to bed early and get a good night’s rest, and to build time into your schedule for leisure: it could be in the form of going to or participating in a baseball game, or just plane old fun and relaxation.
Despite a common misconception, estrogen is not only for females: men need it, too. Men need estrogen in smaller doses than their female counterparts, and it plays a major role in brain and sexual function. When a man is in andropause, estrogen can actually overtake testosterone, mostly when testosterone is waning, and can increase the risk that you get prostate cancer. Through bio-identical hormone replacement for men, restoring natural hormone balance can actually reverse this profile, reducing the risks of other complications and increasing your ability to live life to its fullest.
Although we like to think we’re unstoppable, men are not immune to age-related downsizing of hormones and testosterone drive. Nor are men immune to other problems that come with aging, like osteoporosis and more. Roughly 1/3 of all hip fractures occur in men. By the age of 55, men face nearly the same likelihood or risk for osteoporisis as menopausal women. To underscore the depth of how this affects men, as the body’s total hormone output begins the process of slowing down, decreased testosterone levels become one of the largest forces underlying mental and physical energy in men.
Andropause is difficult to pinpoint, especially when compared to the female equivalent, menopause. Your symptoms and deficiencies are slow to take over, and at the end of the process, whereas a female knows they’re going through menopause, many men don’t know what’s hit them. Despite the lack of promotion and societal undertstanding of andropause, the male equivalent of menopause is real. Looking at the root of the word is helpful for better comprehending the state: andropause comes from the Greek, andro (male), combined with pausis (stop). When combined, the two Greek words stand for the mid-life retreat of androgens, including DHEA and in particular, testosterone. And testosterone is the key player in male hormonal health and balance.
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