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Overcoming Male Menopause


I want to sound the warning call to all men approaching 50. Ready or not, here it comes! Andropause, the male equivalent to menopause, is a phenomenon for which all men must prepare.

I want to sound the warning call to all men approaching 50. Ready or not, here it comes!

Andropause, the male equivalent to menopause, is a phenomenon for which all men must prepare. The magic word is testosterone–a hormone which can give men the "fountain of youth" and the opportunity to father a child well into senior years. If men maintain an adequate supply, testosterone can last a lifetime.

Hormone levels can deteriorate quickly if you’re not careful. Unlike estrogen, which has a monthly cycle, testosterone has an hourly cycle. It can fluctuate by 20 to 30 percent throughout the day. The levels are highest between five and eight am. However, testosterone can surge at any time during the day or night, which directly leads to erotic and sexual feelings.

Doctors dealing with men’s mid-life issues have a unique tool to help them establish the diagnosis of either true andropause, or mid-life crisis. That tool is a simple blood test for the "unbound" or free testosterone in the bloodstream. Men who come in with symptoms of fatigue, weakness, irritability and lowered sex drive may be either in andropause or in a mid-life crisis. A quick blood test will tell the difference.

A Lifetime Supply

If testosterone is designed to last a lifetime, what’s happening? Let’s have a look at the major symptoms:

  • loss of stamina and energy

  • loss of muscle mass and increased fat accumulation around the waist

  • more irritability, depressed feelings and memory loss

  • decrease in sexual desire (libido) and sexual perfomance (erections)

If you are genetically disposed to a steep decline in testosterone production, there’s still hope.

As men age, their growth hormone levels tend to decline. So does testosterone. These drops are associated with obesity. In addition, excess abdominal fat accumulation leads to higher levels of a sex hormone binding globulin, which can grab most of the available testosterone in the body and render it unusable. To make matters worse, this is also associated with lower growth hormone levels.

Now for the good news. Losing excess fat (especially around the waist) can improve your growth hormone levels, which will then lower your sex hormone binding globulin levels, which will in turn raise your testosterone levels!

First, eat a little less than you usually eat. It’s not the amount of good fat that makes most people fat, it’s the amount of sugar and other carbohydrates they eat. So cut down on bread, rice and pasta made from refined flour. Eat wholegrain bread, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta instead. Consume egg and tofu as your protein sources. Protein stimulates the production of growth hormones, while carbohydrates do the opposite and slow it down. Finally, don’t forget to add olive oil, flax oil, almonds or other nuts into your daily meal plans.

Exercise will help you lose weight and will definitely give you more energy and a stronger heart. Make sure you get involved with a weight-training program. Fitness, jogging and stationary bikes are great for shedding excess pounds but an aerobic exercise will not improve testosterone levels. In fact, your testosterone might even decline further if that’s the only exercise you do. Putting on muscle requires testosterone and growth hormone. Make sure you’re pushing and lifting heavy weights. You don’t have to look like Arnold, but you do need muscle bulk.

Laughter–The Best Medicine

A poor stress response will lower testosterone. Here are three quick and easy strategies you can use to keep up your testosterone reserves.

First use positive language. Instead of saying "Oh no, this is terrible," substitute, "It’s not so bad, I’ll handle it." Positive language will direct your brain to find positive solutions for your stresses. Negative language will direct your brain to negative solutions.

Practice meditation. It focuses and quiets the mind. Going for a solitary walk with your pet is a meditative experience. Prayer is meditative. Listening to classical music, with your eyes closed and slow, deep breathing is very meditative and stress relieving.

Finally laugh it off. Laughter stabilizes brain neurochemicals, raises blood endorphin levels–and helps to maintain testosterone.

Top Five Nutrients for Libido

  1. Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a popular herb known for its ability to reverse an enlarged prostate, which occurs as men age and can interfere with normal sexual function. Saw palmetto also increases blood flow to the sexual organs and promotes sexual health in general. The recommended daily dose is one to two grams of whole berries of 320 mg of a standardized extract.

  2. Adequate zinc levels are essential for hormonal activity and reproductive health. Zinc is concentrated in the testes and prostate in adult males. Zinc deficiency causes a reduction in testosterone levels, sperm production and muscle endurance. Studies of older men showed that oral zinc supplementation for three to six months increased their testosterone levels by an average of 92.8 per cent. Take 25 mg three times daily of zinc citrate or zinc picolinate. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent zinc food source.

  3. Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a newly rediscovered Peruvian herb root that can produce a significant improvement in erectile tissue response. It is said to work by normalizing the levels of steroid hormones such as testosterone, progesterone and estrogen to those seen in young adults. The net effect is increased libido in both men and women. The typical dose is 1,500 to 6,000 mg or more per day in three divided doses. A teaspoon of root powder, containing 2,800 mg of maca root, is used in eight ounces of water three times daily.

  4. Damiana leaf (Tunera aphrodisiaca) has a long folk history dating back to the ancient Mayans as a great rejuvenator of lethargic sexual organs, a sexual stimulant, a nerve tonic and a remedy for impotence. It is used to boost and maintain mental and physical capacity and as an aphrodisiac. As a tea, take two to four grams dried leaf three times daily. For one cup, steep two to four grams dried leaf in 150 mL boiling water for five to 10 minutes and strain. Or take a liquid extract of damiana, two to four mL, three times daily.

  5. Vitamin E is sometimes referred to as the "sex vitamin." It improves both circulation and oxygenation of the blood, which engorges the erect penis. Take 400 to 800 IU daily. Vitamin C has been shown to be important to overall sperm health and assists other supplements in general bioavailability.


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Dr. Cassie IrwinDr. Cassie Irwin