Low Testosterone Treatment for Men
Andropause is the male equivalent of menopause. Although more subtle than menopause, the symptoms are just as real. With men, there is a gradual decline in androgens, the male sex hormones, usually starting in the 40’s. The symptoms may include a lack of energy, poor cognition, waning interest in sex, difficulty in having and maintaining an erection, and decreased sexual satisfaction, as well as fatigue, depression, irritability, aches and pains, and stiffness. Along with the decline in androgens is a rise in SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), which are proteins that bind to testosterone that limit the amount and effectiveness of this hormone as men age. The loss of testosterone contributes to the familiar, “pot belly,” and declining muscle tone in middle-aged men.
Until recently, these changes were just accepted as part of growing old. Now, physicians know that people grow old because their hormones decline. A significant amount of data has been compiled indicating that many of the conditions middle-aged men begin experiencing anywhere from their late 30’s through their fifties and beyond, including depression, abdominal weight gain, and loss of sexual desire and the ability to perform are directly connected to a decline in hormone production. Prostate cancer and heart disease are directly related to hormone imbalances that are now correctable with currently available drug and nutrient therapies. Even greater improvements can be made when these hormone and nutrient therapies are combined with lifestyle changes in diet and activity.
The most significant hormone imbalance in aging men results from a decrease in free testosterone, while estrogen levels remain the same or increase. As men grow older they often suffer from the dual effects of having too little testosterone and too much estrogen. The result is a testosterone to estrogen imbalance that directly causes many of the debilitating health and performance problems associated with normal aging.
One of the reasons this happens is that as men age, testosterone is increasingly converted to estrogen. One report showed that estrogen levels of the average 54-year old man are higher than those of the average 59-year old woman. This is precisely why taking testosterone by itself, without monitoring the other hormones measured in the Andropause Program, is usually not a good idea. Testosterone may convert into even more estrogen, a process called aromatization, thus potentially making the hormone imbalance problem worse. Too much estrogen and not enough testosterone increase the risk for a heart attack or stroke. High levels of estrogen have also been implicated as a cause of benign prostate hyperplasia.
An Age Management physician will explain the exact nature of any imbalance in the testosterone to estrogen profile and will show patients how the Andropause Program and testosterone supplementation will improve it. All of the hormones in the body are important and work together to keep the body healthy, and therefore, they must all be balanced for a person to experience optimal health. Some of the benefits of Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy an include:
Sexual stimulation and erection begin in the brain when neuronal testosterone-receptor sites are prompted to ignite a whole cascade of biochemical events that involve testosterone-receptor sites in the nerves, blood vessels and muscles. Free testosterone promotes sexual desire and facilitates both sensation and performance. Without adequate levels of free testosterone the quality of a man¹s sex life is unquestionably diminished. However, it does not matter how much free testosterone is available if excess estrogen is competing for the same cellular receptor sites, and estrogen has a further impact on testosterone¹s effectiveness because it contributes to the age-related rise in sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG binds the active free testosterone into non-active bound testosterone, and this bound testosterone can’t be picked up by testosterone receptors on cell membranes, so it is of no benefit. For testosterone to have the desired long-lasting libido enhancing effects it must be kept in the free form, and excess estrogen must be suppressed. Restoring youthful hormone balance can have a significant impact on male sexuality, and this is precisely the goal of the Age Management M.D. Andropause Program.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
An increasing number of studies have shown an association between high testosterone and low cardiovascular disease rates in men. Testosterone is a muscle-building hormone, with many receptor sites in the heart. The weakening of the heart muscle as we age can sometimes be attributed to testosterone deficiency. Testosterone is not only responsible for maintaining heart muscle protein synthesis, but it promotes coronary artery dilation (good circulation) and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels as well.
A consistent finding in the scientific literature is that testosterone supplementation therapy produces an increased feeling of wellbeing. Newly published studies show that low testosterone correlates with symptoms of depression and other psychological disorders. A common side effect of prescription anti-depressant drugs, like Prozac and Zoloft, is a reduction in libido. Many people suffering with depression either accept this drug-induced reduction in the quality of their lives or they discontinue the anti-depressant drugs so that they can at least have a somewhat normal sex life. Testosterone supplementation, the foundation of the Andropause program, often enhances libido, which is the opposite effect of most prescription anti-depressants. And at least one study showed that patients with major depression, given Testosterone, experienced improvement that was equal to that achieved with standard anti-depressant drugs.
Balanced Cortisol Levels
A consistent pattern of fundamental aging is that low testosterone causes excess production of a potentially dangerous stress hormone called cortisol. Excess cortisol can contribute to multiple degenerative effects such as immune dysfunction, brain cell injury and arterial wall damage. Excess cortisol tears down muscle, ligaments, and bone, and puts on fat! Excess cortisol can also suppress testosterone and growth hormone production; the administration of testosterone acts as a “shield” against the over-production of cortisol.
Healthier DHEA Levels
DHEA (dihydroepiandrosterone) is a natural hormone that is produced in the brain, skin and adrenal glands. It is the most abundant steroid hormone in the body. As we age, our levels of DHEA drop, so that typically by the age of 45 we produce only half of the DHEA we produced at 20. Many scientists believe that the decline in DHEA, along with the decline in testosterone, has a role in much of the physical and mental decline we associate with “normal” aging.
Improved Mental Functions
Hundreds of studies have documented the vital role that DHEA plays in the body, but it appears to be especially important for normal immune function. It also appears to have a significant effect on our emotional well being, with one study reporting “a remarkable increase in perceived physical and psychological well-being for both men and women.” The men and women not only felt better when they were taking DHEA but said they were better able to cope with stress. Other studies have shown that low levels of DHEA increase the risk of heart disease in men. And interestingly, in one study of men over the age of 40, low levels of DHEA were strongly correlated with sexual dysfunction.
Studies have shown that Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy can result in lower levels of cholesterol, glucose, triglycerides, reductions in blood pressure and decreased abdominal fat mass. Most patients also experience an increased sense of wellbeing, higher libido, more energy, better focus and concentration, and fat loss and muscle gain in response to workout programs.
Dr. Lee will test patients for a wide-range look at hormone levels, along with many other levels that most doctors are not considering. When Dr. Lee prescribes a course of supplements and hormones specifically for an individual, he tailors it to balance current blood levels with the goal of providing relief from symptoms. For the first 6 months, he will recheck the blood levels every 2-3 months until consistent levels are established that work the best.