By Jim Bucher
As we get older, the levels of our sex hormones decline. In women, this leads to menopause. But do men go through a male equivalent as their testosterone drops?
Hmmm, good question.
Now, I’m a red blooded American male in the midst of middle age, is this something I’m going to experience?
You know ‘menopause’ in women, ‘MANopause’ for men?
For me I’ve noticed the ‘hey kids, get off my grass’ syndrome. I know it shouldn’t, but everything seems to bug me.
Waiting for traffic lights, loud noises, slow drivers, irritating commercials, (Not any of mine of course.) no patience, irritable, grumpy, etc, etc.
But is this a sign of ‘MANopause’ or just a ‘thing?’
Some experts and men themselves are convinced they do, blaming a drop in testosterone for a host of middle-age problems, from low energy and poor concentration to man boobs, irritability and impotence. (Man boobs! Remember the Seinfeld episode regarding them?)
After all, only 20 per cent of men experience low levels of the hormone, whereas 100 per cent of women go through the menopause.
Well, they believe that many men, perhaps one in five over-50s, should have testosterone treatment to restore their vigor and well-being.
In fact, this male hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is gaining ground and, over the past decade, prescriptions for testosterone gels and injections have doubled, to 300,000 a year.
But the idea of a male menopause is the subject of passionate debate.
Hormone experts insist the rising popularity of male (HRT) simply reflects aggressive marketing by the pharmaceutical industry.
In the U.S., where drug companies can advertise directly to the public, men spend over 2 billion a year on testosterone.
This is despite the lack of data on its long-term safety, and the fact that symptoms don’t always improve, again according to the experts.
For most men, the symptoms attributed to low testosterone and the male ‘MANopause’ are actually ‘normal symptoms of unhealthy ageing.’
In other words, low testosterone suggests that you haven’t being looking after yourself. I say after ordering a Dave’s Big Bacon Classic.
According to some studies other factors that can affect testosterone levels include depression and excessive drinking. Hmm, not guilty, and guilty.
There is also the tricky question of what level of testosterone is ‘unhealthy’.
So while lots of middle-aged men may have low testosterone, hormone specialists insist that only a fraction, perhaps two in 100, need treatment.
If you watch any of the cable news networks and talk radio (by the way, another sign in men of ‘MANopause’ is listening to talk radio!) you probably have seen or heard the ‘Low T’ spots.
Seems like everyone is selling them and actually the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), requires that testosterone products must now carry a warning about the ‘possible increased risk for heart attacks and stroke’.
So, your ‘T’ levels rise, but you could die. Got it?
But not everyone shares these worries, some studies say there’s ‘no consistent evidence of an increased risk of heart problems with testosterone medication’.
So, what if you have the symptoms above? The first thing to do is check in with your family doctor. Bring it up and lay out a plan.
But for sure the experts agree, there are some things you can do to boost ‘T’ levels on your own.
The best treatment for low testosterone levels is switching to a healthy lifestyle.
This is the single most effective lifestyle change for boosting testosterone levels. Shedding 10 per cent of your weight with regular exercise, a healthy diet and cutting down on alcohol, raises testosterone The more weight you lose, the better your hormone recovery, he adds.
You don’t need to be a hardcore gym-rat. A brisk walk every other day is all that’s needed.
Keep type 2 diabetes under control
Men with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from low testosterone.
It’s not clear which comes first, the low testosterone or the diabetes. But some research suggests low testosterone can reduce the effectiveness of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels.
Get plenty of sleep
The more you sleep, the more testosterone your body produces. Research shows that severe sleep deprivation can cause testosterone levels to drop by 70 per cent.
Bottom line you’re not less manly if you think you’re suffering from low ‘T.’ Make that appointment with your doctor today.
In the meantime, I gotta go. Damn neighborhood kids are on my lawn again!
Jim Bucher is an area resident and guest columnist.