In recent years it has been acknowledged that men experience a hormone decline and shift starting in middle age much the same as women do. The difference is that the male alteration in hormones occurs much more gradually than in women, so symptoms of the male climacteric, popularly called “andropause,” are more subtle. Many of the symptoms, though less abrupt in onset, are similar to the female menopause: depression, memory decline, loss of libido, hot flashes, decreased metabolism and difficulty making decisions. Any or all of these symptoms can be related to decreased or altered levels of the male sex hormones.
Andropause is not simply a matter of decreased testosterone. In fact, some men have elevated testosterone levels. DHEA, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), estrone, androstenedione and progesterone are all male hormones can that “shift” (increase or decrease) during andropause.
In males, higher levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone derived from testosterone, is associated with benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH) and possibly prostate cancer. Increased levels of estrogens in males also appear to play a role in the development of BPH. Decreased testosterone, or the ratio of testosterone to DHT, appears to be important in determining risk for both benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostate cancer.
Decreased testosterone, especially when coupled with increased estrone, may cause emotional liability, depression and memory changes in men. Decreased DHEA levels can affect other sex hormones and are a marker for aging. In longevity medicine, maintaining youthful DHEA levels is considered particularly important.
A male hormone profile is a highly advisable “first step” for hormone balancing. The following are safe and effective self-care measures that can be used to improve hormone balance, but hormone profile testing remains the standard for natural hormone replacement therapy in both men and women.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS
- Diet: eat a nutritious diet high in nutrient-rich foods. Increase consumption of soy products (both sexes) if tolerated.
- Achieve and maintain a normal weight.
- Exercise regularly. 30 minutes, 3 times per week minimum.
- Don’t smoke! The climacteric occurs sooner in people who smoke.
- Maxi Multi: 3 caps, 3 times per day with meals. Optimal (not minimal) doses of vitamin E, C, B6, B12, folic acid, selenium, zinc and bioflavonoids are particularly important for men over 40.
- Omega 3 fatty acids:
Flax seed meal, 2 teaspoons per day with food
Flax seed capsules: 2-4 caps, 3 times per day [target dose range: 6-12 caps per day]
Flax seed oil: 1 tablespoon per day
Max EPA (Omega-3 rich fish oil): 1-2 caps, 3 times per day with meals [target dose: 3-6 caps per day].
For General Hormone Balancing:
- Saw Palmetto: 1cap, 2 times per day. [Target dose: 320mg per day]. Saw palmetto helps keep the ratio of testosterone to DHT high. The result is a more youthful testosterone profile and less unwanted prostate gland growth.
- DHEA: 50 mg taken in the morning. Do not use higher doses without the results of a hormone profile. (A typical dose for an andropausal males is 50mg per day).
- Mega Soy: 1 tab, once per day with breakfast. [Target dose: 100mg or more of isoflavones; 50-100mg or more of genisteins].
- Melatonin: 3 mg at bedtime.
For Depression, Loss of Libido or Erectile Dysfunction:
- St. John’s Wort Extract Plus+: 1-2 caps, 2 times per day between meals.
Hormone replacement creams, patches or natural prescriptions may be recommended by your holistic physician AFTER a sex hormone profile has been performed. I am available for consultations by telephone to help you achieve optimal hormone balance.
See Menopause:”The Climacteric” for a full discussion of what occurs during menopause.