We all know that women experience menopause, a time when their menses stop, at some point as they pass age 40. Their female hormone, estrogen, decreases, menstruation ceases, and women start to experience a variety of symptoms, some of them uncomfortable.
Did you know, however, that men actually experience a similar hormone-decreasing event in their lives, about the same ages that women experience theirs? That’s right, they do. It isn’t really a male menopause though because, obviously, men don’t stop having menses – what really happens is their male hormone, testosterone, starts to decline. In fact, 2-4 million American men have low testosterone levels and only about 5% of them are being treated for it!
Some health researchers have referred to this decline in testosterone in men as “low T (testosterone)”. However, it does share some of the same symptoms with female menopause, i.e., fatigue, depression, weight gain, changes in cognition, sleeplessness and irritability. Sound like fun? No, not much! What can you do about it? Well, first of all, let’s make sure you’re not contributing to the problem by adding hidden estrogen to your life!
Some Reasons for Hormonal “Change” in Men
In our modern world of convenience foods there lies a culprit that could be creating hormonal havoc for all of men, women, and children, alike. That is, plastic and the xenoestrogens it contains. Plastic water bottles, microwave food containers, milk and juice cartons, just about any kind of food or drink you can imagine is likely available in a plastic container.
Plastic microwave containers are the worst as when they are heated they release these environmental estrogens right into your food! You eat the food and your body absorbs all these added female hormones in your fat cells. In men, these abnormal stores of estrogens in fat cells start unbalancing a man’s testosterone levels and can start to give him feminine traits such as enlarged breasts, low sperm count, increased belly fat, and inability to maintain an erection. Our overuse of plastic today may explain the seeming epidemic of men with low testosterone levels.
Other reasons for low T in men are:
- Age – men start to experience a natural decline in testosterone levels around the mid 40’s through the mid 60’s.
- Certain illnesses – diabetes, other endocrine disorders like low thyroid.
What Are The Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
Unlike a women’s menopause, men really don’t stop producing testosterone and sperm as women stop producing estrogen and eggs. More accurately, male testosterone slowly declines over a period of years. Unlike women whose eggs die off in menopause, men still retain sperm and can father a child well into their 90’s or older!
I have male patients as young as age 30 come in with symptoms of low testosterone levels, but the majority of my patients with these complaints are men from about age 45 onward. These symptoms include:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Sleep disturbance (not enough, too much)
- Weight gain, especially belly fat and increased breast fat
- Decreased stamina
Treating Low Testosterone in Men
After doing a simple blood test to determine the level of testosterone a man has, if it is found to be too low, there are a few treatment options available. They include:
- Testosterone injections – there is concern amongst some health researchers that giving older men testosterone replacement may increase their risk of prostate cancer. However, I think the benefits far outweigh the risk and the National Institute for Cancer backs me up here. They stated that there is no real evidence that higher testosterone levels actually cause prostate cancer.
- Natural testosterone boosters – optimal nutrition, diet rich in monounsaturated fats like those found in nuts, olive oil, avocados, good fiber intake (20-25 grams a day), zinc, Vitamin B12, DHEA, high protein, low glycemic index foods all increase testosterone. Limit alcohol; exercise at least 4 times a week.
- Testosterone boosting supplements – Supplements like Chrysin reduces estrogen in your body. Maca, a root used by Peruvian Indians for aiding fertility, increases testosterone levels and sperm count. Tribulus terrestris, saw palmetto, gingko, Korean ginseng, Mucuna pruriens and Muira puama are all natural herbal testosterone boosters.
Though many of my older male patients complain of symptoms of decreasing testosterone, “low T” is a very treatable, common condition amongst men. In fact, there are even television “ads” about it! Whether you opt for testosterone injections or try to stay natural in your approach by using diet, exercise, and herbal supplements, there is no reason in today’s world for a man to suffer with symptoms of low testosterone.
If you suffer from some of the symptoms noted above, contact your doctor and ask for a testosterone level test. If low, try the natural testosterone boosting tips listed here before you start to consider testosterone injections. I think you’ll like how you’ll feel and look!