Healthy Ways to Counter The Natural Decline in Testosterone
A natural part of the aging process in men is the decline in the levels of sex hormones. Unlike menopause, where hormone production often diminishes dramatically and quickly, hormone-associated changes in andropause are more subtle and gradual, beginning when a man reaches his thirties. Fatigue, decreased muscle mass, weight gain, depression, and sexual problems can result from this age-related decrease in testosterone. The good news is that the process of andropause can be slowed and even countered by making healthy changes to your lifestyle.
Andropause: What Changes
Whereas estrogen production ceases altogether in menopausal women, production of testosterone during andropause declines, but does not stop. In fact, healthy men are able to produce sperm into their 80's.
The most common symptoms of andropause are:
Loss of muscle mass
Sexual problems such as decreased libido and erectile dysfunction
The presence and intensity of these symptoms may vary widely among men. This difference is due in part to individual variations in rate of decline of testosterone levels as many factors can adversely influence testosterone production, including:
Chronic illnesses such as diabetes
Since the symptoms of andropause are not specific to andropause alone, it's important to work together with your healthcare practitioner to first rule out other health problems. The diagnosis of andropause is often made on the basis of low levels of testosterone (also referred to as low T) in the presence of clinical symptoms. Other sex hormones, including estrogen - yes, men do produce estrogen - may also be diminished and, thus, should be tested as well. Adrenal function should also assessed as it, too, can significantly impact testosterone production.
Andropause: What You Can Change
Alleviating the symptoms of andropause doesn't necessarily require your taking testosterone. In fact, there is a lack of consensus in the medical community with regard to the use of hormone replacement therapy for andropause. This stems from research which has shown that taking testosterone may increase your risk of cardiovascular complications, including stroke and heart attack.3 Furthermore, some of the benefits achieved by testosterone therapy(4) can also be attained naturally.
There are three steps which you can take to increase your testosterone levels naturally.
Decrease Sugar: Diets high in carbohydrates and sugar raise your insulin levels which can decrease your level of testosterone. If you aren't already reading the nutrition labels on food, now's the time to start. It's important to identify all the possible sources of sugar and carbohydrates in your diet, so that you can reduce them.
Increase Healthy Fats: Healthy fats are necessary for the production of hormones, including testosterone. See last week's blog for information on which fats are healthy.
Proper levels of Zinc and Vitamin D: Both of these substances have an important influence on testosterone production.
Reduce or Eliminate Your Consumption of Alcohol: Alcohol lowers testosterone.
Exercise: All forms of exercise are healthy, but strength training and short periods of high-intensity aerobic exercise have been found to increase levels of testosterone.5 Before you embark on any exercise regimen, consult first with your healthcare practitioner and get advice from a professional trainer.
Reducing stress: Whenever you are under stress, your adrenal glands react by producing cortisol. High levels of cortisol are known to inhibit the production of testosterone. See our blog on Transforming Stress for help managing the stress in your life.
If you've incorporated these healthy changes into your daily routine, but still suffer from andropause, ask your healthcare practitioner whether your medications (steroids or pain medications) may be partially to blame for low levels of testosterone. Support for healthy male sexual function, libido, and stress resilience is available in the form of herbal supplements like HisSynergy. Check out our e-store or contact us for a personalized health consultation. We'd be happy to help you restore vitality to your life.
1 Singh, P. Andropause: Current Concepts. Ind. Journal of Endocrinol. Metab. 2013 Dec; 17(Suppl 3): S621–S629.
2 Christie, N. Hypotestosteronaemis in the aging male: Should we treat it? Swiss Med Wkly. 2015;145:w14216
3 Vigen, R. et al. Association of Testosterone Therapy with Mortality, Myocardial Infarction and Stroke in Men with Low Testosterone Levels. JAMA. 2013;310(17):1829-1836.
4 Giovanni, CG et a;.Testosterone Replacement Therapy and Cardiovascular Risk: A ReviewWorld J Mens Health. 2015 Dec; 33(3): 130–142.
5 Fitness.mercola.com. 2012/07/27.
The contents of this blog are intended for educational purposes only. The information presented here is not a substitute for proper medical attention, diagnosis, or treatment by a qualified healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider before starting or making any changes to an existing treatment plan, exercise program or dietary regimen, and before using nutritional supplements.
~ Dr. Sarah Williams ~ Concord & Nantucket, Massachusetts ~