Hormone Imbalance in males is becoming more and more common. Read below how Functional Medicine can help you.
Although hormone imbalance is often thought of as mainly affecting women, hormone disturbances in males are becoming more and more common.
Hormones are chemical messengers influencing cellular function. The most widely recognised male hormone is testosterone, but men also produce oestrogen, although in much smaller amounts than do women.
The commonest type of male hormone imbalance is low testosterone, often in combination with high levels of oestrogen.
Testosterone production naturally reduces with age, starting in your early 30’s. This has led to the age-related drop in testosterone being nicknamed the andropause or the male menopause.
Sometimes, however, your body converts your testosterone into oestrogen, resulting in very low testosterone and increased oestrogen levels.
Testosterone is often thought of in relation only to libido. However, it plays many more roles in your body, including motivation and mood, brain health, energy and heart health.
Symptoms of low testosterone include:
Symptoms of high oestrogen include:
Sometimes, testosterone levels appear normal, but your body converts it into a substance called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This is stronger than testosterone and less likely to be made into oestrogen. Although this may sound like a good thing, high levels of DHT are linked to prostate enlargement and cancer, as well as male pattern baldness.
Hormone imbalance can be a side effect of some medications.
You may have had your hormone levels tested and been told they are normal, despite still experiencing symptoms connected to hormone imbalance.
Bear in mind the reference ranges used in conventional tests are very broad, meaning your level might not be optimal for you, even though it appears to be in the normal reference range for the general population.
Testosterone replacement therapy may be offered, however, this does not address the reasons behind your hormone imbalance.
The first thing to do is to become aware of your personal hormonal picture. A saliva test can measure the amount of testosterone available to your body, your level of oestrogen and how your body is metabolising testosterone by measuring substances such as DHT.
Further tests can evaluate your personal nutrient levels, and discover how your gut and liver health are influencing your hormone levels.
Therapy will concentrate on replacing nutrients such as zinc, crucial for your body to make enough testosterone, supporting your body’s natural detoxification processes and encouraging good gut health to ensure excess oestrogen is expelled from your body.
Lifestyle interventions such as exercise can be incredibly useful in restoring testosterone levels, particularly strength exercises involving large muscle groups such as the glutes. Likewise, sufficient quality sleep is important to promote testosterone release if your levels are low.
Stress management techniques can reduce the activity of the enzyme used to convert testosterone to oestrogen. Natural nutrients and herbs to inhibit aromatase and to encourage healthy testosterone metabolism may also be recommended.
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