As men enter midlife, levels of their male hormones, known as androgens, decline and can become unbalanced. When this occurs, a variety of symptoms begin to manifest, including fatigue, less endurance and muscle strength, loss of libido, weight gain (especially around the midriff), joint aches, sagging skin, and moments of depression, emotional malaise, insomnia, decreased short-term memory, irritability, mood swings, and even panic attacks. Such symptoms are indications of the andropause complex, a recent Mayo Clinic article referred to this as “male menopause,” a diagnosis that is increasingly gaining acceptance among physicians.
According to Gary S. Ross, M.D., of San Francisco, California, the andropause complex of symptoms is usually noticeable by the time a man is in his fifties, although they may appear much earlier. All such symptoms are signs that a man’s hormones, both in terms of their levels and their ratios to one another, are in a state of flux, shifting into a new, midlife configuration. “Hormone levels, especially of testosterone, start off high in puberty and peak throughout the teenage years,” Dr. Ross says. “Then, as men pass the age of 30, they begin a slow drop, so gradual at first that most men don’t notice it. But by the time they are 40, 45, or 50, they start experiencing the male menopause symptoms.”
Declining hormone levels, and the resultant symptoms that can accompany them, are not inevitable, and may be slowed or reversed by a number of alternative therapies, including natural hormone replacement therapy and the use of glandular extracts. Clinics have emerged that offer diagnosis and treatment for those who suffer from low testosterone. This low T clinic can provide more information about testosterone therapy. Other important approaches (often used in conjunction) include proper diet, appropriate nutritional supplementation, detoxification, exercise, herbal medicine, and homeopathy.
When it comes to an exercise plan that will complement testosterone function and production (along with overall health), Dr. Joseph Mercola recommends including not just aerobics in your routine, but also:
- High-intensity interval training – Work out all your muscle fibers in under 20 to 30 minutes.
- Strength training – When you use strength training to raise your testosterone, you’ll want to increase the weight and lower your number of reps.
Among the hormones alternative physicians use to balance and restore proper hormonal levels are testosterone, human growth hormone (HGH), thyroid glandular extract, and DHEA, depending on individual need. Even men who eat healthy diets and exercise regularly should have their hormones tested by a reputable lab using testing procedures offered by organizations such as Nexel Medical. these tests can detect the most commonly occurring of these disorders, which are testosterone deficiency and growth hormone deficiency.
“As a person ages, it is crucial to make adjustments in the diet to reflect changing hormonal patterns,” Dr. Ross says. He typically recommends a diet that has a sufficient amount of cleansing foods (high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and grains) to balance the high level of congesting foods (breads, pasta, dairy products) commonly consumed by most people. This helps prevent the kidneys, liver, and intestines from getting clogged and working less efficiently, which leads to reduced absorption of nutrients and increased accumulation of toxins.
Testosterone therapy offers a number of other health benefits including reductions in blood sugar levels, total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, liver enzymes, weight, and waist circumference according to a recent Men’s Health article. Researchers believe that improving all of these factors may be protective to the heart.
If you feel symptoms of low T—low libido, fatigue, depression, or erectile dysfunction, for instance—talk to your doctor about getting tested. If your testosterone levels come back low, discuss the benefits and risks of testosterone therapy with your doctor.