What you need to know about andropause
By Lisa Houk, FNP, BC, Nurse Practitioner, North Texas Family Medicine, Texoma LIVING WELL Magazine
You laughed about it when you were younger, but now you seem to be fighting the urge to dye your hair and buy something that goes really fast. Natural decline in testosterone can lead to many normal body changes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 4.5 million men have symptoms of low testosterone, yet only 5-10% seek treatment.
Testosterone is important for assisting the male body in building protein for muscle tone, bone formation, liver function, prostate health, brainpower, mental drive, and stamina. It influences every organ from the heart muscle strength to hair growth patterns. Truthfully, a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report analyzed male hormones and found that the testosterone levels in most 70-year-old men were 10% of the levels of 25-year- old men. This change is known as andropause.
The signs of andropause may be noticed by muscle loss, weight gain, sleep problems, lower sex drive, irritability, depression, hair loss on legs and arms, erectile dysfunction, urinary hesitancy, increased urination at night, increased breast tissue size, and memory loss. Tendons and joints become stiffer. You might become more irritable, apathetic, and tired. You may even experience night sweats, hot flashes, and mood swings.
Andropause is expedited if a man has ever experienced a concussion in his lifetime due to the disturbance of the leutinizing hormone in the brain. Likewise, symptoms may appear in your younger years if you have had previous injuries, infections, or cancer to your male organs. If a newborn baby boy’s testicles do not drop into the testicle sack within 72 hours of birth, his testosterone may be impaired for life. Environmental toxins in the form of body cleansers, household cleaners, and how we eat food that has been heated in plastics influence hormone levels as well.
When my father experienced prostate cancer last year at the age of 64, it was a scary ordeal. He was much too young to fight the odds of just riding it out without treatment as we often do for those men over 72 with prostate cancer. Most often it is too slow growing after 72 to truly fight. Now, since my father went through cancer and faced a prostatectomy, changes in his hormone levels are evident.
Don’t wait until you reach that point. To best understand your hormone symptoms, seek a provider that does a comprehensive review of symptoms, medical, family, and personal history in order to give you a broader perspective. Testing testosterone by way of saliva, blood, and/or urine is often overlooked unless the patient requests the need or you have an astute provider.
In order to help completely with the care of increasing natural testosterone, areas need to be addressed with regards to fitness, nutrition, and sleep. Stress reduction is crucial. Treatment further by way of the safest, most effective, and comparable to your whole body symptoms with the least problems, is achieved through bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Often this is compounded for you in the form of a shot, cream, or gel.
Bottom line: recognize the changes before they impact your lifestyle. Getting down on the floor with your grandkids takes more than just asking “Am I in shape?” More of a concern is if you experience andropause symptoms before you have begun having grandkids. Now is the time to explore options and better understand your health. You can make a difference.
Lisa Houk encourages you to visit her at North Texas Family Medicine. She would love to help you today! Lisa may be reached at 940-686-0860.