Andropause, or male menopause, is a name that has been given to a set of effects that appear in some aging men and which have some superficial similarities to menopausal effects in women. Andropause may be related to, and the consequence of, the slow but steady decrease in the production of the hormones testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in middle-aged men.
The impact of low levels of testosterone has resulted in such symptoms as loss of libido and potency, nervousness, depression, impaired memory, the inability to concentrate, fatigue, insomnia, hot flashes and sweating. While andropause does not cause a man’s reproductive system to stop working altogether as menopause does in women, many experience bouts of impotence.
It is believed that andropause is caused by a very gradual decrease in testosterone and increase in sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) that occurs from age 40 onwards. It has been found in some but not all men that testosterone declines 10% every decade after the age 30 (1% per year).
The Male Hormone Evaluation
At Balanced Life and Health, the Male Hormone Balancing Program begins, like all our programs, with an initial in-depth consultation and physical evaluation by a licensed practitioner. Until a practitioner has had the opportunity to hear from the patient as to when and where stressful events adversely impacted his life, it is often hard to diagnosis and treat the underlying cause of symptoms. A partial list of our pre-screening includes:
- DHEA Sulfate
- T-3, Free, T-3, Reverse
- T-4, Free
- TPO Antibody
Testosterone and Depression
A consistent finding in the scientific literature is that testosterone supplementation therapy produces an increased feeling of well-being. It has been well documented in studies that low testosterone correlates with symptoms of depression and other psychological disorders. And yet a common side effect of prescription anti-depressant drugs, SSRI's like Prozac and Zoloft, is a reduction in libido. Testosterone supplementation, on the other hand, often enhances libido, which is the opposite effect of most prescription anti-depressants.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a natural hormone that is produced in the brain, skin and adrenal glands. It is the most abundant steroid hormone in the body. As we age, our levels of DHEA drop, so that typically by the age of 45 we produce only half of the DHEA we produced at 20. Many scientists believe that the decline in DHEA (along with the decline in testosterone) has a role in much of the physical and mental decline we associate with "normal" aging.
Hundreds of studies have documented the vital role that DHEA plays in the body, but it appears to be especially important for normal immune function. It also appears to have a significant effect on our emotional well-being, with one study reporting "a remarkable increase in perceived physical and psychological well-being for both men and women."
Other studies have shown that low levels of DHEA increase the risk of heart disease in men. And interestingly, in one study of men over the age of 40, low levels of DHEA were strongly correlated with sexual dysfunction.
Studies have shown that supplemental testosterone can result in lower levels of cholesterol, glucose, and triglycerides, reductions in blood pressure and decreased abdominal fat mass. Most patients also experience:
- An increased sense of well-being
- An increased libido, more energy and better focus and concentration
- Fat loss and muscle gain in response to a workout program
Even greater improvements can be made when these hormone and nutrient therapies are combined with lifestyle changes in diet and activity.