Monthly Archive: February 2012

Andropause: Male Menopause

The “change of life” not only applies to women, men go through their own version of menopause, called andropause.

Now you may not see men fanning themselves and turning red due to hot flashes, but this change of life does affect their stamina, drive and overall vitality.

Andropause typically occurs in men between 40 and 50 years of age when testosterone levels decline, which can result in fatigue, depression, lack of vitality, increased irritability, mood swings, sleep problems, hair loss, decreased sex drive, night sweats, loss of muscle mass, and/or problems in achieving or maintaining an erection. Testosterone levels can even start to decline in men at the age of 30 and drop continuously over time. This occurs gradually, so the effects may not be as noticeable as in women, whose hormone levels drop more rapidly.

Testosterone is an elixir of life that helps to make men feel strong, young and virile. It maintains bone integrity, preventing against osteoporosis and preserving muscle mass. Testosterone also protects the heart and prevents cardiovascular disease. Obesity, a lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, some medications, a poor diet and stress can all interfere with the action of testosterone.  If you are overweight, your body can actually convert testosterone into estrogen. Not only does this make testosterone levels drop, when estrogen levels get really high, men may start to develop breasts (called gynecomastia).

What Can You Do to Enhance Testosterone Levels?

Lose excess weight by following a healthy exercise program and eating plan. Fat cells in our bodies actually produce estrogen, even in males. Don’t eliminate your fat intake completely, however; choose healthy sources of fat such as avocado, fish oil and raw extra virgin olive oil instead of animal fats and trans fats.

Avoid consuming large amounts of alcohol. Limit beer consumption, as it has been shown to have estrogenic effects, which mask the benefits of testosterone in the body.

Quit smoking and talk to your doctor about any possible side effects of your medications.

Eat organic fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs and poultry. This will reduce your exposure to pesticides, antibiotics and hormones that can impair the action of testosterone.

Eat liver-supporting foods. Include eggs, onions, garlic, dark leafy greens, lemons and limes, artichokes and beets in your diet to help your body detoxify from harmful types of hormones.

Avoid using plastic food and beverage containers and eating canned foods (their lining is made of plastic) as these contain hormone-disrupting bisphenol A.

Go green with cleaners and body care products to avoid exposure to the hormone-disrupting chemicals found in conventional cleaning products.

Exercise to maintain muscle mass and decrease fat mass to optimize your testosterone levels.

Eat cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, rutabaga and turnip, as these all help to reduce estrogen levels in males.

Relax and de-stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, reduces the action of testosterone. Meditate, or do yoga or deep breathing exercises to take it easy.

Eat zinc-rich foods to maximize testosterone levels. Include cremini mushrooms, spinach, sea vegetables, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, oysters, crab, lobster, clams, salmon, turkey and lamb in your diet.

Get your fibre in to reduce estrogen levels. Choose organic vegetables, chia seeds and hemp seeds to keep you regular.

Your Naturopathic Doctor can determine your testosterone levels by doing a salivary hormone test. This will test for various hormones, and allow him or her to choose the most appropriate herbs and nutrients to support healthy hormone levels.

With a little help, you will be able to increase your stamina, drive and overall vitality!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed healthcare practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed healthcare professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.