Andropause, often referred to as “male menopause”, is a time in the male body when testosterone levels begin to drop off and/or the testosterone produced in a man’s body becomes less effective.
As testosterone levels increase in a teenage boy’s body, certain recognizable characteristics start to change; his voice deepens, his muscles begin to bulk out, there’s generally a noticeable growth spurt, and facial and body hair begin to grow.
In men over the age of 30, testosterone levels begin to drop by approximately 10% each decade. When testosterone levels begin to drop, men may experience certain symptoms, a few of which might include a lack of energy, loss of muscle mass, increased body fat, mood swings, and yes, even hot flashes. This is all due to the fact that, in a man, this one hormone, testosterone, plays a large part in the regulation and maintenance of energy, sexual performance, mood, muscle mass, and body fat.
It is important to remember that this is a natural process and need not be an uncomfortable time. In Canada, an estimated four to five hundred thousand men experience symptoms related to testosterone deficiency, but only about 5% recognize the signs and seek treatment. Here’s the excellent news, guys! Doctors can easily diagnose low testosterone with a simple blood test. Once diagnosed, there are a number of different treatment options available.
This article will look at the role of testosterone in a man’s body and how the effects of low testosterone sync up with conditions such as metabolic syndrome X, the connection between low testosterone and loss of muscle mass, energy, and the effects of stress on testosterone levels.
THE ROLE OF TESTOSTERONE IN THE MALE BODY
The group of male hormones that create and support masculinity is known as androgens, but testosterone is the one that is primarily responsible for:
- Determining before birth whether a baby will develop into a boy or a girl.
- Forming personalities.
- Regulating the sex drive in men (and in women).
- Starting and maintaining the development of male sexual characteristics. including dominance, emotional and physical strength, body shape, hairiness, and deep voice.
- Governing sperm production and quality.
Testosterone plays a role in developing creativity, intellect, thought patterns, assertiveness and drive. Testosterone also affects general health during childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Adequate levels of testosterone throughout life help males to thrive as children, develop stronger muscles and bones (along with acne) during puberty, cope with stress during peak career years, and age gracefully after retirement. 1.
TESTOSTERONE AND ITS ROLE IN METABOLIC SYNDROME X
Testosterone deficiency can be linked to a number of medical problems, including metabolic syndrome, or Syndrome X, a cluster of metabolic risk factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. To receive a diagnosis of the metabolic syndrome, patients must have three of the following five risk factors:
Low Testosterone and Liver Function
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, also called a fatty liver, commonly co-occurs with the metabolic syndrome and may aggravate the metabolic problems.
A new study found that, in middle-aged and older men with low testosterone levels, long-term testosterone replacement therapy greatly improved their fatty liver disease. It also found that, in general, their liver function significantly improved during the first 12 to 18 months of therapy and stabilized for the remainder of the study period.
Restoring testosterone to normal levels led to major and progressive improvements in many features of the metabolic syndrome over the 2 years of treatment. Specifically, the men’s weight, waist line and body mass index (a measure of body fat) continued to decline over the full study period. The other metabolic risk factors also significantly improved during the first year of testosterone treatment. 2
LOW TESTOSTERONE, MUSCLE LOSS and WEIGHT GAIN
Muscle is a key metabolic tissue that greatly enhances the amount of calories we burn over a 24-hour period, and testosterone happens to be the primary hormone that allows us to keep this metabolic furnace burning. That is, until we begin losing it! Andropause is believed to be one of the primary reasons some men experience a great deal of muscle loss, and unfortunately, fat gain, primarily in the tummy region.
Testosterone affects fat loss in one of two ways. Just like a car, your fat cells have a series of brakes and accelerators. The parts of a fat cell that accelerate the release of fat are called beta-receptors. The parts of a fat cell that put the brakes on fat loss are known as alpha- receptors.
The distribution of brakes and accelerators on each fat cell is one reason why certain parts of your body shed fat faster than others. Women, for example, often have a hard time losing fat from their hips. That’s because the fat cells in that area have a higher ratio of alpha- to beta-receptors.
If a fat cell has more beta-receptors, it will release stored fat more quickly than one with fewer beta-receptors. That’s where testosterone appears to help. By increasing the number of beta-receptors, testosterone appears to make it easier to lose stored fat.
TESTOSTERONE LEVELS AND STRESS
Low testosterone can bring about mood swings, depression, and a reduced resistance to stress. Unfortunately, on the flip side, stress can bring about reduced testosterone levels.
Physiologically speaking, during times of stress, two hormones, noradrenaline and cortisol, are released. These two hormones shut down what the body deems unnecessary to “save your life” at that immediate moment. Unfortunately, while present in your body, these two hormones also carry out catabolic (breakdown) activity. This means they break down body stores of fat and protein (muscle) normally used as resources for energy and the immune response.
Chronic stress causes chronic catabolism which is very influential in the premature aging process and severely inhibits testosterone function, making it difficult to build muscle and muscle strength.
Try and limit the amount of stress you’re exposed to, or that you subject yourself to. Long, quiet walks or workouts at the gym can help to relieve stress, raise your mood, and promote a better sleep cycle.
LIVING WELL WITH LOW TESTOSTERONE LEVELS
Just because low testosterone has got you down, it doesn’t mean that the down-in-the-dumps feeling and all the physical symptoms that come with it are something you have to put up with. It is not necessarily a normal part of getting older. Testosterone replacement therapy, which is available in a number of forms, has been shown to increase energy levels, muscle mass, bone density, and sex drive and to reduce other symptoms in men who suffer from low testosterone for a range of reasons.
Testosterone supplements come in a variety of forms, including gels, injections, patches, and pills. Men concerned about maintaining an active lifestyle may find it easiest to get stuck on the patch because it is applied once daily and worn for 24 hours, and users can exercise, swim, bathe, and shower like normal. Most importantly, the patch is the only delivery method that mimics the natural daily rhythm of testosterone production in healthy young men. 3
NUTTER’S CAN SUGGEST…
What to expect from this product:
- Reduces excess body fat – especially in theabdominal region.
- Increases the body’s natural production of testosterone.
- Preserves and builds muscle tissue.
- Enhances the body’s cellular repair mechanisms.
- Enhances overall liver function to aid in excesshormone removal.
- Facilitates the conversion of a powerful – cancerpromoting– estrogen, to the safer beneficial 2-hydroxyand 2-methoxy estrogens.
- Maintains prostate health.
- Fights excess free radicals.
- Helps the body deal with excess stress.
- Reduces excess inflammation.
Further Reading Suggestions…
1. How Testosterone Is Produced In The Body
2. Medical News Today
3. Healthy Ontario
Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 12 years experience in her area of expertise, natural health and wellness, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch Practitioner, and Reflexologist.
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