by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath
I want to first share that there is so much information available on menopausal symptoms for women but unfortunately male menopause or andropause is left out of the equation. Seemingly the only focus on male menopause is the occasional commercial on the radio to sell some supplements to enhance testosterone production.
With today’s article you will understand that increasing your testosterone level may actually be making your worse. It is unfortunate that most of the information available on male menopause focuses only on endocrine dysfunction, while this is truly a neuro-endocrine, immunological disorder. You’ll understand soon.
Let’s start with the fact that what most know as male menopause is properly referred to as andropause. So what is andropause?
It is always easiest to first describe what most men will feel when they are experiencing andropause.
- Do you recognize a lack of passion?
- Lack of drive?
- Lack of motivation?
- Do you find yourself more interesting in the couch than much of anything else?
Unlike the dramatic changes that women will occur when they are experiencing symptoms of menopause, the age related hormonal changes in men occur gradually throughout many years and are not as obvious.
I also want you to understand that andropause is not an age thing. Often men can be experiencing andropause early in adulthood. There is not a magic age of hormonal dysfunction for men as generally recognized in women.
Of the ten most common causes of death in men, this is a list that would tie directly into andropause.
- Heart disease
- Suicide (Depression)
- Alzheimer’s disease
You’ve waited long enough. Here is the answer to “what is andropause?” This is a collection of symptoms, including fatigue and a decrease in libido, experienced by some middle-aged men and attributed to a gradual decline in testosterone levels.
The first understanding is that the shift into andropause is generally caused by adrenal insufficiency, chronic inflammatory conditions and/or chronic insulin challenges. Obviously the insulin challenges are typically nutritionally based but most do not understand that the chronic inflammation is also typically nutritionally based. When we eat foods that drive up blood glucose levels this creates insulin resistance and insulin surges which creates inflammation. Also when we consume foods that we are sensitive to we create chronic inflammation.
Once we are experiencing adrenal insufficiency, chronic insulin reaction and/or chronic inflammation, this leads to altered androgen balance. This leads to further systemic inflammation and further gut challenges. In turn, this will lead to brain issues, obesity and vascular disorders.
All this without recognition until it seems to be too late. The good news is that even if you’re already in the midst of this chaos, it’s not too late.
I also want you to think about what I mentioned earlier, this is not only a hormonal issue. This is also an immunological and brain issue. If you only address the hormonal issue you may not only be missing the boat, you may actually be making this worse.
If you have had your hormones checked and your practitioner told you that your testosterone levels are low and you are now taking supplemental testosterone, you could be worsening your issues. This is because one of the patterns of male aging is the aromatization of testosterone into estrogen hormones. Basically this is due to an enzyme that creates this conversion.
Yes, you heard it correct, you could be converting your testosterone to estrogen hormones. All right guys, is there anyone reading this that feels they want or need more estrogen?
I think not!
I can recall a male client that I was working with that had a testosterone implant put under his skin that would slowly release testosterone over the period of about one year. This was done because another practitioner tested his testosterone and found his levels to be low. Unfortunately, this client was converting this testosterone into estrogen and he ended up with estrogen dominance. I knew that client personally and we were able to make light of his situation and I talk him “Dude, you’re becoming a women.” While this was of course meant as a joke, this client shared that there was some truth to this. He noticed that his breast tissue had become more prominent and he had become very moody and weepy. Thankfully we recognized this estrogen dominance and we were able to get him on protocols to not only assist his body in lowering the estrogen but also balance his adrenal function which would assist in naturally increasing testosterone levels.
This is just one of many examples of testosterone replacement gone bad that I have seen in my career.
There are other patterns that may lead to depressed free testosterone, which is so important to us men. Addressing inflammation, blood sugar and adrenal function goes a long way in assisting you in finding your hormone balance and walking away from symptoms of male menopause.
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