Hormone Balancing Strategies for Male Menopause (Male Menopause - Part II)
"You're never too old to become younger."
-- Mae West
In December's column I described andropause, or "male menopause," a condition similar to female menopause in that it is precipitated by a change in hormones. Although andropause was first described in medical literature in the 1940's, the medical community's ability to diagnose and treat it properly are recent developments. Sensitive tests for bio-available testosterone were not available until the past decade, so andropause went through a long period where belief in its existence was questioned.
Because symptoms of andropause can be vague and can vary from one person to another, some men find it difficult to admit that there's even a problem and physicians do not always think of low-testosterone levels as a possible culprit for the symptoms their male patients are having. Historically, physicians thought that the ill-defined collection of symptoms attributable to andropause in middle-aged or elderly men -- fatigue, depression, irritability, reduced sex drive and impotence -- were related to medical conditions other than testosterone deficiency and they counseled their patients to accept the fact that they were no longer "spring chickens."
This has changed. The new testing procedures have led to an increased interest in the field of men's aging among medical researchers. So much attention is being focused on andropause that major efforts are underway to quickly share emerging scientific information with the international medical community.
Testosterone is a hormone that has a unique effect on a man's total body. It is produced in the testes and in the adrenal glands and it is to males what estrogen is to females. Testosterone is essential for normal sexual function. It also affects many metabolic activities such as production of blood cells in the bone marrow, bone formation, blood fat metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, liver function and prostate gland growth.
Testosterone regulates the structure of all body proteins and insures the development and integrity of the male reproductive organs. The adult testicles normally produce about 7-10 mg of testosterone daily. A deficiency causes only modest changes initially such as an increase in weight (beer belly), progressive aging of the face, muscular weakening and weakening of bone tissue. In addition to decreased sexual drive, lowered testosterone secretion causes low functioning of other body organs and leads to memory impairment, general fatigue and higher estrogen levels. The development of clogged arteries, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, the atrophy of the skin, high blood pressure and increased cholesterol are also among the aging-associated changes in males that may be reversible with testosterone supplementation.