How hormones affect the menopausal male Sue Visser March 2011 (1334 words)
Prepare, for accept and maintain your "menopause".
Men do not ovulate. They do not get hot flushes to announce the end of their breeding cycle. They just keep making testosterone and remain potently fertile for many years. So a midlife crisis is a better way of viewing men with hormonal imbalances. It is not an illness. It is an indication of how well you have prepared yourself for this part of the journey. Accept the changes that take place in your body as the decades roll by and deal with them. To the degree you can adapt to middle age in terms of nutrition, attitude and exercise you can look and feel good throughout your life. But how do you shape up?
Do we really run out of hormones and need replacements?
Men are reluctant to take responsibility for any decisions regarding their health or diet, let alone hormones, as they get older. The belief system that claims women will run out of oestrogen and have to take HRT is as unreal as warning men that they will run out of testosterone. We are quite capable of generating all the hormones we need as we go along. True, you will notice a decline in some hormone levels with a resultant slowing down in certain aspects such as memory and physical or sexual stamina. But these are an indication that you have failed in some way to attend to nutrition and hormonal management.
Oestrogen gets made out of testosterone in men and women alike. The menopausal woman relies on the same system to make her oestrogen. Taking HRT will override this natural mechanism and so for the rest of her life she will need to take oestrogen instead of making it. The same goes for testosterone and progesterone: take it and you won't make it! Neither will you be able to control it.
A build up of testosterone, progesterone or estradiol in the liver leads to hormonal havoc. Generating your own hormones is the key to controlling old age, libido, cancer and heart problems. We get a full blown midlife crisis when we treat symptoms of hormonal problems with individual drugs like: blood pressure medications, anti-depressants, diabetic and cholesterol drugs, steroids and anti-inflammatories. It is easier to control the diet in order to stay off the medications.
Insulin resistance fuels the midlife crisis.
It is dangerous to take medications and hormones without undestanding the etiology of the condition. Men do not run to doctor the moment they feel a bit iffy. For them there is no HRT or progesterone panacea that claims to "bail" them out as in the case of their wives. Men go to the doctor for a check up and are given drugs in response to high cholesterol and blood pressure readings. The clincher is that lurking behind such fashionable treatment is the real ugly monster! Insulin resistance. All those years of careless eating, no regard for supplements and not enough physical, mental and spiritual input equals a midlife crisis.
The very first symptom of insulin resistance is? High blood pressure. The second one is too much low density (bad LDL) cholesterol. So Doctor gets panicky about the heart. But this has more to do with the diet and eating far too many simple carbohydrates. This is what affects insulin behaviour. The first crash comes when these wayward glucose molecules from starch and sugar get bound into triglycerides because the insulin is unable to pump them into cells for energy.
LDL cholesterol is made this way. Not from fat. Just remember that. This causes high blood pressure and bad cholesterol. It then gallops out of cotrol and diabetes is next, followed by an attack on testosterone that results in? Oestrogen dominance and a shut down of thyroid hormones! Do you need medication? How about cutting out the carbs instead and taking zinc and chrome supplements.
The third symptom of insulin resistance is elevated blood sugar levels. Aah! Now you take a medication for diabetes 2. By now the side effects have ganged up against you and you take an anti-depressant. This really sabotages your dwindling sex life but it does not matter because by now the missus may be a total turn off. Similar eating habits "run in the family". She may also be as fat as a toad. So for special occasions you rely on Viagra. It is a costly way to do what should be coming naturally! It is a funny way to treat insulin resistance.
If you love eating bread three or four times a day with take aways and big desserts don't be surprised at the flabby belly, the sagging bulbous breasts, bloating and the moodiness. These are typical signs of insulin resistance. Ignoring vitamins and other supplements makes you so deficinent that hormones such as insulin stop working. Doctor said they were expensive urine. Sound familiar? Next comes excessive cortisol production due to stress reactions. A further gain in weight takes place. The way you eat either prevents or promotes insulin resistance. Change that and you change your hormones and avert a midlife crisis.
The woes of uncontrolled testosterone.
Women only need 1% of the testosterone that men have. During ovulation, females rely on oestrogen supplies from their ovaries. After that, they get oestrogen from the same process as men; that of the break down of testosterone into estradiol; a very powerful female hormone. Normally men only convert a tiny amount of testosterone into oestrogen. This is controlled by an enzyme called aromatase.
But in the case of insulin resistance, hyperaromatisation takes place and so men get flooded with more and more oestrogen instead. Imagine that. Normally a healthy liver will break estradiol down into weaker oestrogens known as estrone and estriol for safety. But if the liver is congested, then cell proliferators like estradiol return to the bloodstream and cause prostate enlargement (BPH). Progesterone joins in the fray, giving out more hormonal precursors to elevate cortisol.
If any hormone supplement is not carefully monitored by special 24 urine metabolic tests then it is just guesswork. It is not as simple as topping up with a cocktail of bio-identical hormone supplements. They have to be controlled and broken down by the liver at certain times. If your liver is wacked out from the "good life" then you will be worse off than before.
That is not the end of the story. Many men then still think they need more testosterone because they are sexually impotent. But any testosterone booster including the herbal "viagra" concoctions will get aromatised into even more oestrogen. Hormones are cruel. The liver is where aggressive androgens like dihyrotestosterone (DHT) are controlled by the 5 alpha reductase hormone. But if there is a deficiency of betasitosterol then DHT is unleashed and it too, invades hormonally sensitive areas such as the prostate gland. Insulin resistance sabotages testosterone and it runs out of control. *
What is the first thing a man in such trouble needs to do?
Seek help from a practitioner who is skilled in natural medicine. They will give you a customised health plan and guide your food and supplementation choices. Some people are sensitive to wheat or gluten and need to be tested for other intolerances that cause inflammation, fatigue, etc. Blood type diets and eating according to a carbohydrate controlled system such as "Zone" dieting help to control your hormones very effectively. With such help you can gradually wean yourself off of medications and be free from their harmful side effects. This will put you in control again. Forstall the misery that lies ahead when insulin resistance is rife. Learn to spot the lies and don't become another victim of hormones bahaving badly!
* In women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) the same hormonal pathways cause testosterone to convert to DHT and oestrogen dominance. Please see the article on PCOS for more insight into how hormones behave, epecially with regard to insulin resistance that dominates these conditions.
Midlife crisis case number 2: Ben
Ben is in his sixties and his wife keeps watch over him like a hawk. Her medicine comes out of the food she lovingly prepares. In terms of nutrients, it is super-dense. Carbohydrates are kept to a minimum and Ben lacks nothing. His cholesterol profile is perfect and so is his blood pressure. He never goes near a doctor unless it is a social event.
At home the family table groans with vibrant vegetables and succulent morsels that are packed with super nutrients. It is his way of life and he hates sweet things. In between meals he is rammed full of fruit, savoury snacks or freshly made health juices. His wife takes pride in listing all the green ingredients, just in case he needs more chlorophyl, antioxidants, enzymes or adaptogens to handle stress and protect the adrenals. He takes a selection of supplements too!
Ben loves Viagra jokes. "Why do you have to get it up – it does that every morning!" He laughs and wonders if there is an anti-viagra pill available? That is easy because most of the side effects of medicines these days seem hell-bent on turning the alpha male into a heap of misery and dissatisfaction. Ben has no body part topics to keep up with his peers at the bowling club. Some of the guys are twenty years his junior with a waistline twice as large. They go on about arthritis, diabetes, spinal surgery, dementia and stents.
His bowling partners succumb to either heart attacks or death by cancer or chronic ailments without ever wondering if life could have been different. It is all a question of correct nourishment and a better understanding of the hormones that hit us hardest during the menopause.