The official term for male menopause is Andropause, and is indeed recognized by medical science as a real phenomenon. Andropause occurs as Men age and their Testosterone levels decrease. In some Men, symptoms include decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, depression, decreased muscle mass, loss of muscle strength, increased obesity, osteoporosis and increased cardiovascular risk. Between the ages of 25 and 50, a man’s Testosterone level can decrease by 50% while his Estrogen level increases by 50%. Estrogen is stored in adipose (fat) tissue. It’s all about balance, and when Estrogen levels become to high, Testosterone becomes lowered.
Many men suffer for years before this problem is ever considered by their doctor. It is important to have your hormones tested if you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or are close to or over the age of 40. We offer a variety of specialty labs requiring only a urine or saliva sample as opposed to a blood sample. Many insurances also pay for these types of hormone tests.
Unfortunately, some men are only screened by having Total Testosterone checked, which only tells part of the story. What we really want to know about is both a man’s Total and Free Testosterone level. The Free Testosterone level tells us what is bio-available, or rather what is actually readily available for the cells to use.
Another important lab test is SHBG, which stands for Sex Hormone Binding Globulin. SHBG is a protein which transports certain hormones like Testosterone in the blood stream. The SHBG needs to be within normal range, because if it is elevated, it can actually bind up Testosterone and prevent it from being utilized at the cellular level. So in some cases, a person can have a normal or optimal Testosterone level yet still have a high SHBG, which needs to be addressed. SHBG is closely tied to liver function, so it may be that the liver needs to be cleansed to allow for more free Testosterone to be utilized by the body. A high dose fish oil in the range of 2000 mg per day is sometimes advised to help provide liver support and reduce SHBG protein levels.
The first step is to get a complete hormone analysis and then discuss with your doctor the type of hormone replacement that will best fit your needs. Bio-identical Testosterone Replacement or BHRT is available in capsules, gels, creams, patches or injections at Sunshine Health Care Center.