Most of the men I have talked to in a health consultation will put up with just about any chronic health complaint for a very long time. This leads to a loss of vitality which affects motivation, joy for life, and general inspiration. One of the last things that seems to be the push to seek help is when a man’s sex drive changes.
- This can present in a number of ways, such as:
- changes with their morning erection
- changed ability to ejaculate
- changes in the urine stream,
- loss of sexual satisfaction.
Any changes in sexual function are clear warning signs that something is out of balance. This can be from many reasons, such as physical trauma, psychological trauma, aging, broken relationships, and medication side effects. This article will shed some light on a nutritional and functional medicine approach to improving libido in men.
Naturally, this article is for educational purposes only, and you should be screened by your medical practitioner first before attempting any DIY remedies.
To book a free Telehealth appointment with a functional medicine expert in the area of male hormones CLICK HERE.
What do hormones have to do with it?
The most well-known hormone that affects men’s libido is testosterone. However – there are a few other hormones you need to know about that could be affecting your libido.
Testosterone is often shortened to T in articles.
Testosterone naturally begins to decline from about the age of 30. But there is a lot you can do to boost it, regardless of your age.
Roughly 95% of the testosterone in a man’s body comes from his testes – more specifically, the Leydig cells. Most of this is used to make sperm, but a small amount will enter the bloodstream. It then enters cells to help with muscle building, bone formation, hair growth, red blood cell production, brain functions, and more.
The other 5% of testosterone is made by the adrenal glands – a small triangle-shaped gland on top of each kidney that produces steroid hormones.
Most testosterone in men is made in the testes and adrenal glands.
The Thyroids Role In Male Libido
Sadly standard medical testing of thyroid misses early and intermediate disease
progression due to the overly generous reference ranges used to determine
Hypothyroidism causes a big increase in Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG),
and this binds to testosterone making it unavailable to you. Even a suboptimal
thyroid will affect your libido.
If this is missed, then treatment will be incomplete if the treatment focus is simply
boosting testosterone levels.
Estrogen Affects Male Libido
Men and women all have estrogen and testosterone – just in very different ratios!
In andropause, men can gain weight, have fatty breast tissue (gynecomastia), have a beer belly, and have a lower drive to exercise, and this can due to an imbalance in estrogen.
As testosterone lowers, estrogen usually rises. And this is where there’s a catch! The more fat you have on your body, the more testosterone will convert into estrogen, fuelling the problem so it becomes worse with time. We also absorb estrogen-mimicking compounds from the environment which contribute to this estrogen-dominant situation. These are called xenoestrogens and come from thousands of sources, such as BPA in plastics, paint fumes, till receipts, plastic cookware, and even chemical pesticides on our food.
When a man is dealing with type 4 Androgen Deficiency Syndrome, estrogen does something very different. It can become too low due to lower levels of aromatase (an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen), and this results in changes in;
- Brain Function – lowers serotonin receptors in the brain, leading to low mood.
- Erectile Dysfunction
Aromatase lives abundantly in the brain, penis, and testes, so when aromatase is low, it affects all these areas.
How Adrenals Affect Male Libido
Androgens are hormones created by your adrenal glands. And as mentioned earlier, testosterone is one of them.
This is key for many men, as their symptoms are driven by more than just low testosterone.
Key symptoms of androgen deficiency:
- Reduced sex drive
- Less frequent morning erections
- Body temp is cooler
- More cramps, spasms, or twitches
- Sleep apnea
- Bone loss – osteoporosis
Essential Nutrition For A Healthy Libido!
The very top of the list is a controversial one. Iodine. The misinformation about iodine has caused a great burden of disease to our society.
Iodine can boost prostate health, increase testosterone, maintain thyroid health, boost immunity, improve brain function, improve erections, virility, and much more.
Leydig cells are found in your testes and are responsible for producing testosterone. These cells store iodine, or in the absence of iodine, toxic halides such as bromide and fluoride. Supplementing under guidance can reverse the storage levels of toxic halogens, and replace them with iodine, reinstating the health and function of the Leydig cells. This will naturally increase your body’s ability to make testosterone.
Iodine is an essential element for prostate health. When iodine levels are low, the normal structure of the prostate is compromised and cysts can begin to form.
These cysts can harden into solid nodules and can eventually lead to hyperplasia, which is a precursor to prostate cancer.
Iodine supplementation was found to decrease the size of an enlarged prostate by lowering PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels, a key indicator of prostate health, with 5000 mcg dose of daily iodine solution.
The current RDI for iodine intake is appallingly low – 150 mcg for adult men over 19. Optimal levels of daily iodine intake should sit around 12000 according to the traditional Japanese diet which has a high intake of seafood and seaweeds. In Japan, a nation that consumes high-iodine foods regularly, men show lower rates of prostate cancer in comparison to their U.S. counterparts. The Japanese diet is notably high in iodine-rich sources. With an intake of iodine estimated at 25 times higher than that of U.S.
There are medications available to treat low testosterone in andropause, called HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). However, there are also natural treatment options for this condition that have fewer risks and side effects. HRT can be administered in several forms, such as pills, injections, pellets, and creams.
The downside to conventional treatment is that it may miss other factors such as a low thyroid, pre-diabetes, and nutritional deficiencies affecting the body’s natural healing and vitality processes. HRT can increase blood pressure and compromise
kidney function if given in excess.
Functional Medicine for Boosting Libido
Functional Medicine is a systems biology-based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. It treats the individual, not the disease, allowing greater flexibility of care that encompasses patient education and empowerment, diet and lifestyle guidance, science-based pathology, and clinically validated treatment options.
Testing is thorough and investigative, to ensure that vital parts of your individual health picture are not missed. As you have learned in this article, not all men will be suffering just from a drop in testosterone. There are usually other hormones involved, and simply boosting testosterone levels doesn’t always give the results that are expected due to the nature of the complexity the hormones can display.
You can get back your sex drive, virility, positivity, and motivation with a holistic approach!
Testing and pathology for burnout
This is a list of the most commonly run tests we do to assess hormone functionality.
- Nutrient deficiencies or excesses. Too much, or too little of a nutrient, drives diseases and imbalances causing fatigue. CLICK to learn more.
- Adrenal hormone status – vital for anyone with an energy issue. The Adrenal Plus Profile provides a much more in-depth examination of your adrenal hormones, including Diurnal (3 times in the day) salivary cortisol – stress and energy hormone. Close examination of your melatonin -sleep neurotransmitter. DHEA hormone levels – antiaging and adrenal hormone
- Functional thyroid hormone testing. A full Thyroid Blood Profile includes the testing of several blood markers including TSH (the standard blood test to screen for thyroid dysfunction through medicare) as well as Free T3, Free T4, Anti-TPO, Anti-TG, Reverse T3, and SHBG. (TRABs available on request) CLICK to learn more.
- Blood Sugar Profile. Energy and sleep issues always have some functional disturbances with the blood sugars in the body. Testing is essential. Blood Sugar Test – Insulin and Glucose Test – The Lucy Rose Clinic
- Sex hormone balance – E2, Progesterone, Testosterone. As we age the ratio between these hormones varies, and imbalances in these ratios can have a wider impact on every other system in the body. CLICK to learn more.
- Cardiovascular markers. This test examines your inflammatory & cardiovascular markers. Triglycerides, CRP, LDL, HDL, Total Cholesterol and Homocysteine. By examining these, we’re able to check for systemic inflammation and disease risk associated with poor thyroid, metabolic functions, and hormone levels. CLICK to learn more.
- Iodine status. Iodine is an essential element for detoxification, thyroid function, cellular health, immunity and for the healthy functioning of the entire hormonal system, including testosterone production in men. CLICK to learn more.
- Food intolerances. Using immunoglobulins, this test is able to see if you have a particular intolerance to certain food types by their reactions in your blood sample. Food reactions can be a major driver of fatigue. Food Intolerance Test – Allergy Test – The Lucy Rose Clinic
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