My middle-aged husband has no motivation and is always cranky. He has also put on a big belly and lost his libido. Do men go through menopause?
Many men suffer from what is called andropause, a hormonal and neurological cascade that affects their health and their personality. Some refer to it as “male menopause.”
The defining marker for andropause is a skewed ratio of testosterone to estrogen so that estrogen becomes dominant. This has long been associated with middle age, but clinicians are increasingly finding it in younger men too. As andropause comes on gradually the symptoms can be overlooked or relegated to “getting older.”
Men with andropause often have high cholesterol and triglycerides, insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure, abdominal weight gain, the development of “breasts” and “hips,” and varicose veins or hemorrhoids. Some men even have hot flashes.
Many factors are suspected to contribute to andropause, including abundant estrogens in pesticides and environmental chemicals, poor essential fatty acid status, gut infections, and poor liver detoxification. However the most common cause is chronic stress caused by high-carbohydrate diets and poor lifestyle habits.
A diet that is consistently high in starchy and sugary foods, such as sweets, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, soda, and sweet coffee drinks chronically over stimulates the production of insulin. This triggers an enzyme called aromatase that synthesizes estrogen. It also leads to insulin resistance—when insulin cannot get into the cells to deliver glucose and vital nutrients—which causes hormonal imbalances.
Addressing andropause is not as simple as using testosterone cream to boost testosterone levels. That can lead to testosterone excess and hormone resistance, exacerbating symptoms. Instead a salivary hormone panel that includes levels of testosterone and estrogen will show the mechanism of the condition and what the best course of action is for you.
This can include dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce stress on the body, nutritional therapies to address deficiencies and imbalances, and complementary protocols to address the effects of andropause on heart and brain health.