Tracey Malcolm explores the tell tale signs of low testosterone in men
Both menopause in women and andropause in men refer to a drop off in hormones – in women, oestrogen levels decline as ovaries reduce production; in men, testosterone levels decline.
One of the key differences, however, is the speed with which they do this: in women the decline is sudden, occurring over a few years, normally from the age of 45 to 50; in men this decline is much more gradual, with hormones dropping off over several decades rather than years.
In theory, this gradual decline in testosterone means that symptoms of testosterone deficiency are much less severe than those associated with female menopause. Also not every man will experience male menopause.
For those that do, there’s a good chance you may not recognise the symptoms for what they are; but if you’re feeling tired, irritable, depressed or are experiencing low libido or erectile dysfunction, your testosterone levels could be low. Other symptoms can include a drop in muscle mass, an increase in body fat, and thinning hair.
If your symptoms are beginning to affect the quality of your life – for example, if reduced sexual function or libido is taking a toll on your relationship or causing depression – a doctor may prescribe a testosterone replacement. This can come in the form of a skin patch, capsule, gel or injection, but it is something you would need to discuss with your doctor as they will first want to measure your testosterone levels to see if this line of treatment might be suitable.
Some men may not be interested in hormone replacement, just as many women are not keen on HRT during menopause. While there isn’t really any way to reverse the lowering of testosterone naturally, dietary changes and certain nutrients can help to manage symptoms.
Zinc is important for testosterone levels, so making sure you get plenty of this mighty mineral may help to support your testosterone levels. Zinc deficiency is fairly common in the modern world as intensive farming strips vital nutrients from the soil – so even if you’re eating well you may still be missing out. Nuts and seeds, pumpkin seeds especially, are great sources of zinc, or you could try a supplement.
If you’re experiencing high levels of stress try A.Vogel’s Stress Relief Daytime. It combines Valerian and Hops and can be used for the temporary relief of symptoms associated with stress and mild anxiety. Passiflora and Avena sativa are another herbal duo that may prove beneficial when used together.
For symptoms of low mood there’s St. John’s Wort or Hypericum. Hypericum can take up to six weeks for best results, and it can interact with other medications and affect the way they work, so isn’t suitable for everyone. Check with your GP first if on prescribed medicines.
If you cannot take St John’s Wort you could try Jan de Vries Mood Essence, a combination of flower essences that may give support when it is difficult to stay positive. Taken regularly it aims to uplift and bring back an optimistic and enthusiastic outlook.
You should also look to support your health generally and you can do this by eating plenty of fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates and wholegrains, healthy fats and lean sources of protein. Try to cut back on meat, dairy, processed foods and refined sugar.
And now more than ever, make sure you get plenty of exercise. Physical activity, such as cycling or even just a regular walk will help to whittle your waistline and keep stress, anxiety and low mood at bay.
For further advice on any aspect of men’s health, or even just a chat, ask Alan and Tracey Malcolm of Tullivers Health Store, 1-2 Colliergate, York, or visit www.tullivers.co.uk.