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Andropause: What is Male Menopause?

 

 

 

 

Male Menopause? What does that mean? Only that male production of sex hormones decline with aging in men as they do with women. Unfortunately, men are often not given the attention that women are concerning the changes in hormones. Some men actually have good levels of testosterone even into the 60’s, but many men can experience drops in testosterone much earlier. Low testosterone can occur at any age, but in changes associated with aging, are most likely to occur in the 40’s and even more likely to be present in the 50’s. Testosterone decreases with stress, and smoking.  Unfortunately, testosterone levels are not checked as part of the yearly blood work.

Men with low testosterone may suffer from fatigue, poor sexual function, such as erectile dysfunction, low libido, depression, and general loss of the spark of life. But there may be other changes associated with lower levels of testosterone much more worrisome. Testosterone is a vasodilator, thus it lowers blood pressure, decreasing stress on the heart and increasing oxygenation to the heart and other tissues. One early researcher, Dr. Moeller, used testosterone as therapy for people with decreased circulation of the lower limbs. His patients originally manifested such symptoms as painful cramping in the lower legs, cold extremities and pain on walking.  But what was interesting about Dr. Moeller’s work, is the positive effect of the testosterone he used, helped to resolve difficult to treat infections, even gangrene. His results were remarkable.  Circulation of the lower extremities was restored so much, that legs warmed to a normal pink color instead of blue and cold. Cramps and pain resolved; even resolution of infection, including some cases of gangrene, occurred without amputation of limbs!

Testosterone has many receptors in the brain, just like the estrogen receptors are present in women. Studies on testosterone levels and mental function have shown men with higher level of testosterone are more astute mentally. Dr. Hurn, in groundbreaking work done at Oregon Health Science University, discovered if male animals have testosterone therapy after suffering a stroke, their brains recover more quickly and completely.

I have noted that in women on testosterone, there is a spark of confidence, initiation and decision making that may not be present as women’s hormones decrease in menopause.  It is also very involved in woman’s libido.  Birth control pills may hinder a woman’s sexual interest and response by inhibiting ovarian function.  The small amount of testosterone left, secreted by the adrenal glands, may be difficult for cells to make use of.  Contraceptive pills stimulate the liver to produce binding proteins which may make the testosterone unavailable.

Many people are aware that testosterone can increase the strength of muscles.  This is why over-enthusiastic athletes are tempted to use it, sometimes, excessively.  Testosterone’s positive effect on muscle can benefit those suffering from congestive heart failure.  In this disorder, the heart does not have the strength to work properly as a pump. Testosterone strengthens the pumping capacity of the heart, helping to restore oxygen availability to tissues It also helps to decrease cholesterol.

Many people do not visualize testosterone being a calming hormone, but it is in regards to inflammation.  It has been shown to be helpful in autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.  It also helps decrease reactivity to allergies.

Testosterone can also bring sexual interest and function back in many cases, especially if used early treatment. Testing is simply done with a blood test. It is easy to determine deficiency and safe and natural forms can be monitored with a simple blood test. Patients who have prostate cancer should never take testosterone, as it can increase the growth of this type of cancer.  Used carefully and monitored, testosterone therapy is certainly appropriate in mid-aged to older men to ensure optimal health and prevention of heart disease, and mental dysfunction.

 

 

 

 

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