Everything You Need to Know about
Midlife Hormone Changes in Men
Men at mid-life are just as susceptible to an age-related drop in hormone production as their female counterparts. Andropause, the so-called male menopause, signifies the retreat of the key male hormone testosterone.
Male Menopause or Andropause
The term "Male Menopause" has been used to describe decreasing testosterone levels related to aging. But aging-related hormone changes in women and men are different.
In women, ovulation ends and hormone production plummets during a relatively short period of time. This is known as Menopause. In men, production of testosterone and other hormones from the thyroid and adrenal glands declines over a period of many years and the consequences aren't necessarily clear. This gradual decline of testosterone levels and other hormones is called Andropause, or age-related low testosterone.
The first thing a man entering Andropause generally notices is a subtle downward shift in strength and energy as hormone levels taper off. Muscle tone and stamina are the first to go and he starts to gain weight and that "spare tire." He may also develop a voracious appetite and food cravings he never had before. As symptoms kick in at mid-life, hormone testing can identify hidden imbalances that complicate symptoms of andropause and contribute to rapid aging.
The 2006 HIM Study found that nearly 40% of US males over 45 years old had low testosterone levels (an estimated 13 million US males), however the majority of men in the study did not recognize that the weight gain, sore muscles, lack of libido, insomnia, and burnout they were experiencing could have something to do with andropause and hormone imbalance – instead they put their symptoms down to "just getting old."
Recognizing Low Testosterone Levels
Low testosterone levels in older men often go unnoticed. Testosterone levels can be checked by a blood test, but tests aren't routinely done. And many men who have low testosterone levels experience no symptoms. In addition, the signs and symptoms associated with low testosterone aren't specific to low testosterone. They can also be caused by a person's age, medication use or other conditions, such as having a body mass index of 30 or higher.
Still, signs and symptoms suggestive of Andropause include:
- Reduced sexual desire and activity
- Loss of excitement and enthusiasm
- Decreased strength/stamina/endurance
- Decreased muscle mass/sore muscles
- Increased body fat
- Poor recovery from exercise
- Burnout and fatigue
- Lack of mental clarity
- Decreased sex drive and/or competitive drive
- Prostate problems
- Decreased spontaneous erections or erectile dysfunction
- Hot flushes or sweats
- Loss of motivation
- Decreased confidence
- Poor Concentration
- Social Withdraw
- Loss of Interest in thing they used to be interested in
The hidden Hormone imbalances contributing to these factors generally include:
Leads to decreased stamina and libido, fatigue & erectile dysfunction
Results in weight gain, increased chest and belly fat, hot flashes, night sweats & excessive need to urinate (BPH)
Results in insomnia, anxiety, sugar cravings, feeling tired but wired & increased belly fat
Causes chronic fatigue, low energy, food and sugar cravings, poor exercise tolerance or recovery & low immune reserves
This condition is commonly missed in men and may often mimic symptoms of low testosterone.
This includes high blood pressure and diabetes and may mimic some symptoms of low testosterone – like fatigue or erectile dysfunction.
Results in excessive need to urinate (BPH), hair loss, acne
Low Adrenaline and Dopamine
Results in Apathy, Reduced Concentration and Focus, Fatigue, Depression
Depression, Anxiety, Negativity, Irritability, Insomnia
TESTING RECOMMENDATIONS for Men in their 40s and 50s:
Ask your doctor to test these things to get ahead of the hormonal imbalances and decline so that you can continue to operate at your Best…
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
- CBS plus Differential
- Lipid Panel
- Testosterone Panel
- Thyroid Panel
- Vitamin D3
- NeuroAdrenal Profile
7 Tips to Keep Feeling Your Best during Andropause:
- Reduce Weight: Fat Cells lower available Testosterone.
- Boost Testosterone with Strength Training and Weights.
- Reduce Testosterone Robbers like Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Caffeine.
- Counteract Stress with Regular Aerobic Exercise.
- Eat Organic Hormone Free Meat, Dairy and Vegies. Increase the Vegies.
- Sleep at least 8 hours per night…Yeah, really!
- Find a doctor to test your Hormone Levels and Health Markers.
Andropause and Aging Well
Aging is inevitable and dropping hormone levels go with the territory, but what is not inevitable, is how rapid or steep the decline in hormones needs to be. Whether men age well, or rapidly, depends a great deal on their stress levels, diet, exercise, alcohol intake, weight gain etc. For example, the more overweight the man, the more estrogen he will churn out in his fat cells, creating a surplus in relation to waning testosterone, and a raft of estrogen related symptoms, like moodiness, depression, and female pattern of weight distribution in the hips, thighs, and breast tissue. (A fact that should not be lost on those concerned about prostate health is that estrogen is a growth hormone linked with the development of prostate cancer.)
Men in balance do these things during Andropause:
*Test their hormone levels to detect and correct imbalances linked to symptoms.
Follow up with a natural hormone friendly physician and get on the proper treatment plan that rebalances the hormones that are depleted.
Lose weight as needed. Fat cells contain aromatase, an enzyme that robs the male body of available testosterone by converting it into estrogen.
Stick with a program! A low glycemic Mediterranean style diet that's high in protein and fiber and low in fat and carbs can help rebalance hormones and assist weight loss
Throw out testosterone robbers like caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and unnecessary stressors like burning the candle at both ends day in and day out etc.
Take up strength training or weight bearing exercise to boost testosterone and DHEA levels naturally by building up lean muscle mass
Counteract stress (the higher the stress levels, the lower the testosterone) with regular exercise – 45 minutes is optimal but even 10 mins. 3x a day adds up to 30 minutes and that is GOOD
St-r-e-t-c-h and breathe deep to release tension held in the muscles and lower stress hormones that deplete T levels
Hit the sack earlier – less than 7 hours of sleep disrupts appetite hormones to increase cravings and feelings of hunger
Take time to do the things you enjoy! Stress reduction is the key to normalizing cortisol and T levels
The Good Andropause
I encourage you to read the Atlantic article with the awareness that hormone balance never boils down to just one hormone! Getting to the land of optimal health and aging is about getting ALL key players – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol, thyroid, and adrenals – working together in sync! Just like the symphony orchestra, if one instrument is out of tune, so goes the melody…hormones are your internal symphony. Replacement has its place if it is in tune with your body’s natural rhythms and need for proper care, feeding and rest during andropause!
Dr. Gabrielle Francis is a NYC based Naturopathic Doctor, Chiropractor and Acupuncturist. She has extensive experience supporting Men through their Midlife transition with Health, Vitality and Balance. Learn More about her practice, The Herban Alchemist HERE!