Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy for Men
Hormone therapy programs aren’t only for women. Men experience a more gradual loss of hormones, mainly testosterone. The result is andropause, known as the “male menopause.” Andropause can make daily life feel like an uphill battle, and because men have active lives then ever before they are seeking and finding relief from the serious symptoms of hormone imbalance.
Just as estrogen and progesterone are the female sex hormones, testosterone is the male sex hormone. Testosterone is the main hormone produced in the testicles and secreted by the testes. Through bioidentical hormone therapy, or BHRT for men, testosterone can be restored to pre-depleted levels.
Some signs of decreased testosterone are:
• loss of sex drive/inability to maintain an erection
• depressed mood
• aches and pains in the joints
• dry skin
• loss of weight
• absence or regression of secondary sexual characteristics, such as muscle development, deep voice, and hair distribution on the chest and face
Testosterone production is affected by a number of external factors, such as illness, medications, psychological state, obesity, exercise, and lifestyle (smoking and excessive alcohol intake). Factors such as reduced activity, nutritional deficiency, diabetes, and growth hormone deficiency can also contribute to lower levels.
The major effects of testosterone are:
- promotes libido, assertiveness, and sexual desire;
- stimulates the growth of certain organs;
- promotes protein anabolism, that is, the use of protein to build muscle, skin, and bone, and militates against protein catabolism, or breakdown
- stimulates sperm production;
- nourishes all the tissues of the male urinary and reproductive systems;
- regulates the production of prostaglandin, which seems to keep prostate growth under control
Men who have a low testosterone level after age 40 may have a higher risk of death over a four-year period than those with normal levels of the hormone, according to a report in the August 14/28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. Good news is that with BHRT testosterone levels can be replenished.
Unlike women undergoing menopause, middle-aged men generally do not experience a dramatic decrease in the production of sex hormones, according to background information in the article. Testosterone levels gradually decline as a man ages, decreasing approximately 1.5 percent per year after age 30. The effects of low testosterone levels include decreased muscle mass and bone density, insulin resistance, decreased sex drive, less energy, irritability and feelings of depression.
Previous studies have found that testosterone levels may dramatically decrease one to two days after surgery, trauma or critical illness–all factors that can increase the risk of death. To eliminate these effects, the authors reanalyzed the data excluding men who had died within the first year of follow-up. Men with low testosterone levels were still 68 percent more likely to have died. “The persistence of elevated mortality risk after excluding early deaths suggests that the association between low testosterone and mortality is not simply due to acute illness,” they write. “Large prospective studies are needed to clarify the association between low testosterone levels and mortality.”
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