:472-7) indicates a direct connection between the variety of symptoms described and an imbalance of hormones.
Too little? Too Much?
Simply stated, the imbalance is one of too little testosterone and too much estrogen but this is far from a simple matter and it needs to be noted that testosterone is much more than a sex hormone. With receptor cites in the brain and heart, and in fact throughout the entire body, testosterone is critical in maintaining healthy bone density, lean muscle, red blood cell production, and safeguarding the immune system. It is also vital for proper cardiac output and neurological function. There is a body of literature that supports the thesis that testosterone helps control blood sugar, regulates proper cholesterol levels, and control blood pressure.
As men age, the testosterone they produce diminishes and is increasingly converted to estrogen. The most dangerous effect of too much estrogen and too little testosterone is the increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Estrogen (estradiol) is actually made from testosterone in the cells of every male’s body but when there is too much, no matter what the level of testosterone, they will suffer negative consequences. Furthermore, when a male is experiencing high estradiol levels, he is also producing more sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a protein that binds to testosterone and prevents it from doing its work. Since typically about 98 percent of the testosterone in the male’s bloodstream is bound to proteins, only approximately 1 to 2.7 percent is free and available for assimilation into the cells of the body. As SHBG increases the amount of testosterone freely available to act on cells diminishes.
There are a number of factors that can cause the testosterone-estrogen imbalance in men. These include excess “aromatase” enzyme (the enzyme that converts testosterone into estradiol), impaired liver function (often caused by excessive alcohol or certain drug interactions), obesity (which increase aromatase enzyme), and zinc deficiency (zinc is a natural aromatase enzyme inhibitor). To complicate matters even more, there is a wide range of “normality” in the testosterone/estradiol reference range that requires expert interpretation.
In addition to declining levels of testosterone, growth hormone and DHEA levels are also falling during andropause. As these levels decline, profound changes begin to occur with growth and metabolism that affect men both physically and mentally.
The good news is that male hormone imbalance is correctable, and a youthful hormone balance can be safely restored. An evaluation to determine free and total testosterone levels, estradiol (estrogen), DHEA, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), growth hormone levels, along with a PSA blood test are required to establish deficiencies and imbalances. If therapies are indicated, a personalized Andropause Program can be developed.
Hormonal health plays a large part in determining one’s overall well-being. Today both menopause and andropause, along with the symptoms that accompany them, can be treated successfully. Men and women and their loved ones need not suffer the consequences of a mid-life crisis. There is definitely hope. It is within our power to make the rest of our life the best of our life!
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