Andropause: What is it really?

Are you grumpy before your time, irritable, angry or bad tempered? Has your get up go, got up and left? Fatigued, loss of energy, loss of concentration or feeling over-stressed? Have you lost your motivation? Had a decrease in job performance? Having problems in the bedroom, loss of libido or decreased intensity of orgasms? Well my friend, you have low testosterone, also known as Andropause.

What is Andropause?

Andropause is a set of effects that appears in some aging men, which has some superficial similarities to menopause in women. A basic description of Andropause is male menopause caused by low testosterone (Low T). But it goes deeper than this; it involves estrogen, insulin and cortisol.

Hormone changes are a very natural part of aging. Women can experience slow to rapid changes in hormones. But in men these changes, including decreased sexual function, increased belly fat, decreased energy levels and mood changes are slow enough that they go unnoticed over time. According to the Mayo Clinic, men tend to be less aware of subtle body changes. They just learn to live with these barely noticeable changes in depression, weight gain and loss of libido.

Here is the sad truth in a report appearing in Salon magazine. An article by Peter McAllister stated that males are becoming the weaker sex:

  • Male menopause, Andropause, is on the rise.
  • Men are more likely to develop coronaries.
  • Men are more likely to have strokes.
  • Men are more likely to be obese.
  • Men are more likely than women to die of cancer.
  • Men are having rapidly declining infertility rates and lowered sperm counts.

Symptoms

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The symptoms of Andropause are vague and common. They can be attributed to so many other health conditions and easily missed by your doctor. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Bone and muscle loss
  • Foggy thinking
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

Factors Driving Andropause

The research clearly shows there are 3 major factors driving Andropause.

The Big 3

  1. Insulin Resistance
  2. Cortisol/Stress connection
  3. Estrogen Dominance

Insulin Resistance

Too much insulin in males increases aromatization – the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. The Standard American diet (SAD), which is high in carbs, leads to elevated insulin. And because of aromatization, you see an increase in estrogen and decrease in testosterone when eating this diet. You are familiar with this picture. Lounging on the couch watching the game, drinking beer and eating chips is leading you right into the arms of Andropause.

Some of main symptoms of insulin resistance are:

  • Weight Gain/Obesity (fat cells release estradiol which can further the cycle)
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Fatty Liver (NAFLD)
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Dementia/Alzheimer’s (type III diabetes)

Cortisol/Stress connection

Too much stress elevates your cortisol levels. This chronic state disrupts your metabolic system so that your glucocorticoid receptors become
resistant. Therefore, you’re in a chronic state of inflammation. This also signals your cells to store fat. The danger comes when the fat tends to
accumulate in your belly, called visceral fat, found behind your abdominal muscles, which keeps you in chronic low grade inflammation. This eventually triggers insulin resistance and then metabolic syndrome. The signs of high cortisol levels in men that can be responsible for the following are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperglycemia/Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Weakened immune response
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Adrenal fatigue

Estrogen Dominance

Estrogenic effects in the environment are everywhere. You see it in animals, in rising cancer rates…and in older males. The culprits contributing to the estrogenization of males are environmental toxins such as xenoestrogens and the estrogens found in some foods. Learn more about this in the blog post Estrogen Dominance Syndrome. Excess estrogens are risk factors in prostate cancer and autoimmune diseases. (3)

Estrogen?! But I’m a male! What is the role of estrogen in a male? In 1988 it was discovered that estradiol (E2) was an important hormonal signal for the initiation of spermatogenesis (the production or development of mature spermatozoa). As well as bone stroma formation, it is needed for lipid metabolism.

Newer research on estrogen in males shows its effects on the cardiovascular system. Estrogen is involved in reducing coronary disease in men. Estrogens have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system by acting on the vascular smooth muscle and endothelium. Estrogen aids in brain function by converting testosterone into estradiol as needed. Estrogens also modulate hormonal secretions for immune system in the thymus and pituitary. (4) Proper estrogen levels are important for health in the correct levels. How is this achieved?

Liver Health is Key

Liver health is key in healing or reducing the symptoms of Andropause. Conversely, abusing the liver can worsen Andropause. If your liver isn’t working properly, it can’t metabolize excess estrogen, it can’t metabolize sugar properly – leading to insulin resistance. All of the big 3 – insulin resistance, estrogen dominance, and cortisol problems – contributing to Andropause can impact the liver. Other factors that can alter liver function and also elevate estrogen are:

  • Deficiency of Zinc
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Certain drugs can cause estrogen imbalance
  • Heavy Metal and Chemical Toxicity

Recommendations

Here are some solutions to reverse and prevent Andropause. Of course, I’m not recommending you take ALL the supplements below! It is simply a comprehensive list of supplements that are known to benefit Andropause. Experiment and find what works for you.

Lifestyle

  • Exercise to help decrease cortisol and help metabolize excess estrogen.
  • Reduce beer intake to aid liver function.
  • Lose weight
  • Reduce stress using relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, breathing and massage.

Diet

  • Minimize refined grains and sugar
  • Start moving your diet towards a low glycemic/low carb (50 to 100 grams only, but more if you’re very athletic)
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Increase your vegetable intake
  • Moderate fruit intake
  • Increase omega 3 intake
  • Increase monounsaturated fats
  • Increase nut and seed intake
  • Roasted Pumpkin Tomato Soup Recipe

Supplements

  • Chromium
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Zinc/Copper
  • Berberine containing herbs: Coptis, Oregon Grape root, California Poppy etc.
  • Liver supporting herbs: Milk Thistle, Turmeric, Artichoke extract
  • Tribulus
  • Tongkat Ali
  • Maca
  • Epimedium
  • Muirs Puama
  • Chrysin
  • Panax Ginseng
  • American Ginseng
  • Quercitin

The first thing every man, regardless of age, needs to do is take responsibility (the ability to respond) and take charge of their health. And ultimately, their lives. The fact is that Low T and elevated estrogen is toxic to the body. Recovery from or reduction in Andropause symptoms is possible naturally with the right lifestyle, diet and supplement. Get back your fight!

Click here for a questionnaire to determine if you are in Andropause.

Contact me for further information on products and protocols to aid in healing from Andropause, Insulin Resistance and Cortisol issues.

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References
1. Achike FI, To NH, Wang H, Kwan CY. Obesity, metabolic syndrome, adipocytes and vascular function: A holistic viewpoint. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2011 Jan 38(1):1-10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21083697
2. Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Doyle WJ, Miller GE, Frank E, Rabin BS, Turner RB. Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. Pro Natl Acad Sci 2012 Apr 17; 109(16:5995-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22474371
3. Kula K, Walczak-Jedrzejowska R, Słowikowska-Hilczer J, Wranicz JK, Kula P, Oszukowska E, Marchlewska K. Important functions of estrogens in men–breakthrough in contemporary medicine. Przegl Lek. 2005;62(9):908-15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16541728
4. Lombardi G, et al. Estrogens and health in males. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2001 Jun 10;178(1-2):51-5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/11403894
5. Morley JE, et al. Validation of a screening questionnaire for androgen deficiency in aging males. Metabolism. 2000;49(9):1239-1242.

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