Hormonal issues are widespread and affect both men and women. In some cases, imbalances can reach such a high degree that one can experience daily, long-lasting symptoms and discomfort. There is a common misconception that women experience hormonal issues far more frequently than men. However, the occurrence of hormone issues between the two genders may not be so disparate.
Recent research suggests that over 5 million men experience hypogonadism. This is sometimes referred to as andropause, and more colloquially as male menopause. Furthermore, studies suggest that over 25 million men between the age of 35 and 55 experience reduced testosterone to some degree. Clearly, hormone imbalance is present among men.
Understanding the importance of hormones regarding men’s health can help bring about improved treatment and better quality of life. In recognition of Men’s Health Week, we would like to explain the symptoms, causes and treatments for hormonal issues in men.
Male Hormone Dysfunction
In men, hormone dysfunction is frequently associated with the male sex hormone, testosterone. Average testosterone levels have been decreasing over the past few decades. Increased prevalence of testosterone imbalance in recent years is likely due to greater exposure to environmental toxins such as BPAs, pesticides and pollutants, as well as declining nutritional value. This trend appears to be continuing at an accelerated rate.
Testosterone deficiency has been associated with a variety of impactful symptoms including but not limited to:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced libido
- Lack of energy
- Reduced motivation
- Being less assertive
- Weight gain
- Loss of muscle tone and definition
- Difficulty building muscle
- Mild to moderate depression
- Reduced physical performance
- Insulin resistance or diabetes
- Belly fat
- Sleep apnea
Furthermore, low testosterone in men is associated with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, reduced longevity and an increased mortality rate. Unfortunately, many men and doctors discount these symptoms and instead identify them as an unalterable part of the natural aging process. However, one may actually be suffering from hormonal deficiency.
Testosterone functions as one of the most well-known androgens. Androgens are metabolic steroids that are precursors to impactful hormones. Andropause, deficiency of androgens, can cause difficulties including the following symptoms:
- Decreased body hair
- Reduced muscle strength
- Increased body fat
- Reduced libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Mood swings
Even though testosterone is frequently involved in male hormonal imbalance, there are other hormones that play important roles in male health and fitness. Diagnosis and treatment of male hormone malfunction and imbalance should include testing for the following hormones.
The adrenals control various important elements including energy, sleep, blood sugar, and stress response. Imbalance in this area can cause one to experience nonspecific symptoms including body aches, nervousness, insomnia, and digestive issues. Cortisol is one of the most well-recognized adrenal hormones. If it is released consistently, cortisol can cause adrenal fatigue leading to hormonal deficiency and other dysfunctions.
DHEA is naturally produced in the adrenals. This hormone circulates through the bloodstream and is converted into other powerful androgens such as testosterone and estrogen. Deficiency of DHEA can result in a variety of hormonal deficiencies leading to widespread issues.
This hormone is frequently discussed in relation to estrogen and for good reason. These two hormones, when working in the proper ratios, promote energy and improved mood. However, if there is a deficiency of progesterone in one’s system, excess estrogen can cause various symptoms such as decreased libido, weight gain, and gynecomastia.
Combatting Hormonal Imbalance with the Right Treatment
Many people, particularly those with thyroid conditions, are familiar with thyroid replacement therapy. Although it is more common than Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT), it may not be the best choice. Standard hormone replacement therapy consists of synthetic drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies that mimic the one’s naturally produced hormones. However, these synthetic products are not the same molecular structure as human hormones. Therefore, they should only be used for short periods because they increase the risk of blood clots, stroke, heart disease, cancers, and dementia. Fortunately, there is a natural alternative.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Medical professionals are becoming more vocal about recommending bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. This treatment has distinct advantage over others for various reasons. Perhaps the greatest benefit is that BHRT uses hormones that are structurally identical to those produced by humans. Hormones used in BHRT are compounded in pharmacies and are derived from natural sources; usually plants. Doctors suggest using BHRT for as long as possible because it promotes bone density, reduces the risk of various cancers, heart disease, strokes, and dementia.
There are numerous male specific benefits that come with properly balancing one’s hormones. Treatment with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help alleviate or completely resolve the following conditions:
- Loss of muscle mass and size
- Reduced libido
- Lack of focus
- Loss of physical ability
- Weight gain and increased body fat
- High cholesterol
It is generally accepted that BHRT is superior even if one bases the decision solely on accompanying symptoms and side effects. This is because BHRT has little to no risk of causing adverse effects due to its structural similarity to hormones produced in the body. Furthermore, bioidentical hormones can be created to suit any dosage or specific hormonal need. Due in part to their great flexibility, they contain fewer fillers and are available in a wide selection of delivery methods: oral pills, sublingual torches, nasal sprays, and transdermal creams and gels. Since each delivery method has its own benefits and disadvantages, speak with your doctor about the right choice for you.
Resolving Hormone Imbalance With BHRT
Recognizing the importance of male hormonal balance is the first step in improving quality of life. Resolving hormone imbalances requires one to work with the ideology that each case is unique and every person must receive an individualized treatment. When pursuing hormone optimization, it is important to enlist the aid of a well-informed doctor who is knowledgeable of male hormones. Properly balancing one’s hormones may be the most effective method to resolve bodily dysfunction and improve quality of life.