How often do you hear a man complaining that his hormones are driving him crazy? Men like to think that they are in control of their emotions and, unlike their menopausal or post-menopausal wives or sisters, not affected by something they can’t even see, like their hormones.
But crazy hormones are not just a female issue. Men experience many of the same hormone problems as women, even though they might express them differently.
What Hormones Are Commonly Affected By Hormonal Imbalance in Men?
Hormones are the body chemicals that regulate the functions of organs. Insulin, growth hormones, testosterone and oestrogen are some examples of hormones. It is difficult to determine whether your hormones have gone crazy or not, especially in men who often ignore warning signs and think that hormonal imbalance is a woman’s thing.
Actually, hormonal imbalance in men is a natural part of aging known as andropause, tantamount to the menopausal period in women. Low testosterone levels characterise this condition.
Starting at the age of 30, a man’s testosterone level drops 1% each year. According to Andrology Australia, 1 in every 200 Australian men has a low testosterone problem. Meanwhile, the oestrogen levels in men increase as testosterone drops. Certain studies have pointed out that the average 54 year old man usually has oestrogen levels higher than those of the average 59 year old woman!
Testosterone is the most essential male sex hormone. It is responsible for the physical development of male characteristics including the testes, male sex organ, and body and facial hair during the puberty stage. Likewise, it has a major role in the reproductive process, as it stimulates the production of sperm in the testes and is often associated with sexual libido. Testosterone also helps in maintaining men’s overall health. It is a significant hormone that maintains bone and muscle mass as well as mood and mental abilities.
Oestrogen is known as the female sex hormone, but men also produce it. Based on research, an enzyme (body chemical) called aromatase converts testosterone into oestrogen. The brain and fat tissues are also sources of oestrogen in men.
There are other common hormonal imbalances in men involving the cortisol (the stress hormone) and the thyroid hormones. However, in this article we will be discussing the most problematic hormones in men, the testosterone.
Why Should You Worry About Hormonal Imbalance In Men?
Hormonal imbalance in men, particularly testosterone-oestrogen imbalance, is manifested by several disturbing symptoms. It decreases your sexual libido, energy levels, muscle mass, strength and bone density. On the other hand, hormonal imbalance can make you gain weight, become moody, insomniac and it even causes hair loss and hot flashes. (See infographics at the right for the list of Signs and Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Men)
Humans are sexual beings. However, your testosterone level decreases as years pass by, and along with it your sexual drive declines as well. In a research finding published by the Chang Gung Medical Journal (2000), 91% of their subjects had decreased libido that was associated with their low testosterone levels. It is just frustrating that some men are experiencing these libido issues earlier than expected, and the problem is often too severe to be acceptable as part of the aging process. You become frustrated knowing that other men of your age are still so sexually active and their libido has not changed much, like you’ve been always complaining. Well, that’s how hormonal imbalance in men takes the spotlight.
Low energy levels, persistent fatigue and tiredness all result from low testosterone levels too. You might notice that your regular physical routines suddenly become abnormally exhausting. Even if you have the same workload or physical activities each day, it just feels energy draining. You can’t even concentrate on your hobbies, and all you want to do after dinner is head to your bedroom and recharge yourself for the next day. “I’ll catch up with you next time. I need to rest now,” is your habitual statement after dinner, isn’t it? Obviously, unless you really are exhausted from work, your hormones are wreaking havoc in your body.
Moreover, hormonal imbalance in men affects mood. Just like women, men can have mood swings. Try to observe yourself. Are you easily irritable? Does your mood change easily? Note down how often you become grumpy and ask yourself if the reasons for your mood swings are valid. Some studies may have associated hormonal imbalance in men to depression. In fact, some men opted to consult a psychiatrist first concerning their mood problems. However, mood swings can also be an aftermath of the other disturbing symptoms of low testosterone levels.
Osteoporosis is another impending health problem that you may encounter if you have low testosterone levels. Your bones may become fragile eventually, because testosterone helps in maintaining the density of your bones.
Weight gain, particularly increased fat accumulation in the abdomen, is common in aging men as well, which is still caused by low testosterone levels. Fat tissues trigger conversion of the remaining testosterone into oestrogen, which further pulls down your testosterone level. Therefore, a staggering weight gain is not just an effect of your low testosterone level, but it can also be the cause of hormonal imbalance.
Talking about oestrogen, did you know that it can enlarge men’s breasts and cause breast tenderness? Remember that oestrogen is a hormone responsible for the development of female physical characteristics, but is also present in men’s body systems. Indeed, there is double jeopardy when you are suffering from testosterone-oestrogen imbalance!
Other problems encountered by men who have low testosterone levels are difficulty sleeping or insomnia, hair loss, hot flashes, decreased muscle mass and strength.
Andropause is part of the aging process, but it should not be taken for granted, as it poses a threat to men’s health. Aside from the disturbing signs and symptoms discussed earlier, low testosterone level is also associated with prostate cancer, urinary and other prostate problems.
To manage hormonal imbalance in men, here are 5 easy steps.
5 Easy Steps to Manage Hormonal Imbalance in Men
Manage Hormonal Imbalance in Men Step #1: Exercise daily.
How often do you exercise?
Weight gain and accumulation of fat are critical when you have testosterone problems. The more fat deposits you have, the more your testosterone levels drop because fats play a significant role in converting testosterone into oestrogen. Therefore, activities that can help you maintain a healthy weight or help you burn fat if you’re overweight or obese, such as regular exercise, would be of great help.
Aside from the fat-burning effect of physical activities, exercise can help improve your mood as well. Studies noted that exercise promotes good sleep, too.
Manage Hormonal Imbalance in Men Step #2: Add more calcium to your diet.
A low testosterone level makes you more prone to osteoporosis and other bone disorders, because testosterone helps in maintaining bone density. Knowing that calcium is the basic component of your bones, don’t miss drinking a glass of calcium-rich milk every day. Other foods that are abundant in calcium are almonds, cheese, dark leafy green vegetables including kale and spinach, broccoli and soybeans. Aside from being rich in calcium, soybeans contain diosgenin, a substance that promotes absorption of calcium into the bones.
Manage Hormonal Imbalance in Men Step #3: Detoxify your body.
Try checking your kitchen cabinets – do you have lots of canned and processed goods? How often do you drop by fast food restaurants to grab some hamburgers, French fries, and a large soda?
Instant, quick or no-cook meals might save you a lot of time. However, you are compromising your health. Most of these types of foods are bombarded with preservatives and other chemicals that can be toxic to your body. Besides, one of the cited causes of hormonal imbalance is overexposure to toxins, particularly those coming from your diet.
To help you detoxify your body, eat more cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, collards, cabbages and kale. These are foods with powerful detoxifying abilities. Herbs and spices including thyme, basil, rosemary, oregano, ginger, milk thistle and pomegranate are potent for detoxification as well. If you are a fruit lover, eat more strawberries, raspberries, goji berries, oranges, apple, cherries, prunes, kiwi, limes, lemons, avocado, grapes, watermelon and banana to help you eliminate toxins. For more detoxification tips, visit our blogs at our website: Nutritional Detox. You can also enrol in my 21-Day detox program, which is a valuable resource for your detoxification.
Manage Hormonal Imbalance in Men Step #4: Eat anti-oestrogen foods.
As mentioned earlier, oestrogen increase is another hormonal imbalance in men, which occurs together with declining testosterone level. Abnormally high oestrogen levels may lead to breast enlargement in men, gynecomastia, and breast tenderness.
To reduce your oestrogen level, eat more foods that contain phytochemicals capable of blocking oestrogen. These foods include cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale), mushrooms, red grapes, sesame seeds, flax and chia seeds, whole grains (wheat, oats, rye, corn, rice, barley, millet), green tea and pomegranates.
Manage Hormonal Imbalance in Men Step #5: Manage your stress.
Long work hours, deadlines, meetings, bills, sleep deprivation, insufficient time with family – what else stresses you out?
If you think that you’ve been overwhelmed by stress, you really need to cut down your stressors and indulge in stress-reduction activities. Stress is a major contributing factor to hormonal imbalance. It can significantly decrease your testosterone level. When you are stressed out, your adrenal glands release your stress hormone, called cortisol, which inhibits the effect of testosterone. This mechanism decreases your libido.
Be organized and plan your tasks well to avoid overtime at work. Learn to become more efficient in prioritizing tasks. A to-do list would be helpful to keep you guided. Stick to your day plan unless something high priority and urgent comes along during the day.
If you think that a task is less important, complete it after all the high priority tasks are done. Sometimes you may think that if you finish the easy tasks first, your workload will be reduced. Then later you will realize that you’ve wasted much of your time doing the small things without getting started on the most important tasks of the day. This will catch you in between deadlines. Keep in mind that prioritising an easy task is not equivalent to being productive unless that easy task is high on your priority list.
To promote good sleep, always have a consistent sleeping schedule. Reduce any distractions when you’re in bedroom, such as television and other gadgets. A glass of milk would really help too, as milk contains tryptophan, which aids in inducing sleep. A warm bath can make you feel relaxed as well.
Other stress reduction activities that you can try are Tai Qigong, Yoga, Meditation, Deep Breathing Technique or swimming. Spend at least 1 hour each day on any stress-relieving activities.
If your hormones are already out of kilter, however, it will probably take more than diet and a few lifestyle changes to bring them back into balance. Seek help, but remember there is no one size fits all solution for hormonal problems. I have achieved fantastic results for my patients at Beyond Good Health with a Natural Hormone Balancing Program that is individualised to address each person’s particular health and hormonal issues.
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