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Andropause - the male 'change of life'.

Author: Anthony Pearce RN

Article: Never mind the red sports car & running off with the secretary, men can & do experience "change of life" related to decreasing hormone levels!

The word hormone is derived from the Greek, & means "to set in motion".

In males the 'Testosterone (TT) Drive' is the most potent force underlying stamina, mental energy, sexual virility & hand-eye coordination in sports. As this drive begins to decline -usually around the fourth decade of life - affected males will gradually experience the symptoms of Andropause - the so-called 'male menopause'.

Andropause is about ageing, & declining male hormone (termed androgens) is a natural consequence of this process. At his peak, a male produces 95% of testosterone from the testes (testicles) in response to endocrine stimulation from the brain. By age 50, this signal to "make more testosterone" has grown weaker, and the ageing testes are less likely - or able - to respond.

The initial symptom of andropause is often a subtle downward shift in strength & energy. The man may lose his enthusiasm for life's challenges which he previously enjoyed - his work, competitive edge, or his physical capacity to compete at past sporting levels.

Other common symptoms are disorders of mood - particularly anxiety, irritability or depression. Sexual function & libido may well decline, but urinary disorders amplify. He may prematurely age as his skin thins & sags, his eyelids droop, his body muscle mass decreases, & his breasts & girth enlarge.

By about age 55, males are at comparable risk of osteoporosis as menopausal women; 30% of recorded hip fractures occur in men.

The disturbance of other hormones is common in andropause and may complicate or accelerate the total decline. Oestradiol (E2) - the most potent female oestrogen - maintains a delicate balance with testosterone.

When testosterone levels decline oestradiol essentially remains constant, leading to a ratio shift in favor of the oestrogens. This altered shift is known to have adverse effects on the prostate gland.

In a complex negative feedback mechanism elevated oestradiol decreases the production of testosterone, and what testosterone is produced is aromatized (converted) to oestradiol.

In times of high stress Cortisol production from the adrenal glands is often elevated. Excess cortisol disorders the brain's hormonal signals to produce male hormone (Testosterone & DHEA) resulting in a further diminished production.

What to do ...

The treatment of andropause is crucial to maintaining a man's quality of life & the old cliché of restoring and maintaining 'balance' is again the key.

Plan a sound nutritional intake for each meal, minimizing caffeine, alcohol, & sugary foods - which have a lowering effect on testosterone. Consuming a light meal early in the evening & then fasting until breakfast will increase Growth Hormone (GH) production whilst sleeping. Growth hormone will have positive outcomes on hormone balance & metabolism.

Regular moderate exercise - particularly weight-bearing workouts - helps control stress levels & can raise testosterone by twenty percent. Don't rob yourself of sleeping hours or relaxation times.

Consult a qualified practitioner who can order & interpret hormone levels. Steroid hormones such as testosterone are best measured by salivary testing, as saliva only reflects the free, active, 'bio-available' testosterone.

Where appropriate a testosterone cream is the preferred restoration medium because it bypasses the initial liver metabolising pathway.

Applying a low-dose bio-identical ('natural') Progesterone cream to the "beer belly" will (in theory) decrease the aromatization of testosterone to oestrogen, and reduce girth size over time.

Nutritional supplements that suppress aromatization are zinc, flaxseed, Vitamin B6, selenium & boron. Progesterone & the active thyroid hormone Triiodothyronine (T3) also have a suppressing effect.

Copyright Anthony Pearce 2007. References available on request.

About the author: Tony Pearce is a Specialist Trichologist & Registered Nurse. He is a founding member of the Society for Progressive Trichology & the official lecturer for Analytical Reference Laboratory (ARL) for hair loss & hormone imbalance. He is the Clinical Director for Trichology Hair Solutions of Virginia/DC in the United States. In Australia he can be contacted on +61 2 95422700, or through his website at www.hairlossclinic.com.au.


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