Hormones decline in both men and women as they age. Human growth hormone, sometimes known as “The Master Hormone” declines about 14% per decade after it peaks around 20 years of age. By our 70’s, the level is significantly lower. This decrease brings about a slow decrease in testosterone levels in men as well. Some are calling this the “male menopause”. It is very different from the female menopause which occurs because the ovaries are depleted of their eggs. The maturation of ovarian follicles to eggs is what drives the cyclic female hormone production. When the eggs are no longer available, the production of hormones in a cyclic fashion ceases. Females do, however, continue to produce a low, constant level of hormones on their own.
Many things can accelerate the decline of hormone levels in both sexes. Stress levels, diet, nutrition and lifestyles all contribute to hormone imbalance. Currently, one of the main culprits is stress. This is true because the stress hormone, cortisol, is built with the same building blocks as our sex hormones, DHEA, testosterone and estrogen. The more stress we have, the more cortisol we demand and the fewer building blocks we have to make our sex hormones. So, we get less testosterone which causes a decrease in libido, fatigue, depression, inability to build muscle mass and increase in erectile dysfunction in men. This situation is further aggravated by poor diet, lack of exercise and lack of sleep because all of these things create more of a demand for cortisol. Many women start having perimenopause symptoms in their late 30’s due to this imbalance. Men may also see symptoms of low testosterone as early as their late 30’s too – especially with the high levels of stress we have today.
The good news is that hormone levels can be checked and monitored and missing hormones can be replaced if necessary. However, it is not all about hormone replacement. It is about optimizing nutrition through a diet with lean proteins and complex carbohydrates as well as adequate vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids. It is also about limiting your exposure to stress and setting boundaries as well as getting appropriate rest and exercise. If the simple lifestyle steps are started early, it is possible to maintain hormone balance naturally throughout your life. If, on the other hand, you have many significant symptoms, discuss your situation with a physician who understands Functional Medicine and get your hormone levels tested.
It’s National Men’s Health Week - the purpose of Men’s Health Week is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. Many of our patients have had tremendous success in relieving their symptoms of hormone imbalance by using a customized plan that includes bioidentical hormone replacement and a nutrition and fitness program.
Meet Dennis, a patient of Dr. Jennifer Landa of BodyLogicMD of Orlando … he’s lost weight, gotten his groove back, has thicker hair, and feels great!