Male Menopause: A common term used – but not really accurate. A more accurate definition is andropause.
In andropause, men drop production of testosterone by an average of 1% per year. In menopause, women have a sudden and dramatic drop in hormone production resulting in infertility and cessation of menses. Not all men go through symptoms of andropause – only 40 – 65% of men will. All women will go through menopause.
Male andropause is a natural aging process but can exhibit extreme symptoms when key hormones are out of balance. Some of the symptoms include;
- Lowered libido
- Hot flushes
- Depression and loss of motivation
- Bone density loss
- Low self esteem
Thyroid – often disregarded in andropause
Sadly standard medical testing of thyroid misses early and intermediate disease progression due to the overly generous reference ranges used to determine function.
Plus clinicians are guided by Medicare to only test the thyroid if the patient is presenting with certain symptoms, and for men, if they fall in the age bracket of andropause, they may not even have their thyroid considered as one part of their health concerns.
Metabolic syndrome is a term given to a collection of symptoms when they present together. It is a serious concern, and preliminary to more serious issues such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The main components of metabolic syndrome include obesity, high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, low levels of HDL cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol, and insulin resistance
Metabolic syndrome is very common in andropause, and a multitiered approach is required to reverse this to prevent more serious disease progression. It is very treatable with diet, exercise, and herbal medicine
Self-test – guys, you are in the risk category if your waist measures more than 104cm
Estrogen – yep
Men and women all have estrogen and testosterone – just in very different ratios! In andropause, men will gain weight gain, fatty breast tissue (gynecomastia), a beer belly, and have a lower drive to exercise, and this is largely 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, fueling 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.
Androgens are hormones created by your adrenal glands. This is key for many men, as their symptoms are driven by more than 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
- Plus all other andropause symptoms
Iodine – essential for Men
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 store 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 just a 5 mg dose of daily iodine solution.
Care is needed when supplementing iodine, with testing the first step to determine need and dose. The gold standard of testing is a 24-hour urinary iodine load test. An iodine literate practitioner will be able to prescribe a corrective dose that will detox toxic halogens and help bring your glandular function to better health.
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 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, 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 complexity the hormones can display.
Functional testing should include all the parameters of testing covered for clear answers to your symptoms. You can get back your sex drive, virility, positivity, and motivation with a holistic approach!