As a baseball fan and a urologist, I was fascinated and saddened by the baseball steroid scandal during the late 90’s. “Roids” and “juicing” were all over the news. While the talking heads were debating the morals and ethics of using anabolic steroids (male hormones) to improve sports performance, behind the scenes there were millions of men suffering from low testosterone. Unfortunately, no one is talking about that.
Male menopause is a thing! Ladies you’re not alone in this not-so-fun journey towards hot flashes, fatigue and weight gain. Let’s start off with some basic anatomy and physiology lesson.
The testicles (or “balls” for those who giggle every time they hear the word testicle) produce the male hormone testosterone. This starts even before birth and continues throughout the life of most men. Testosterone is released directly into the bloodstream and is involved in the following:
- Erections and libido (Doctor term for why men think about sex 536 times a day)
- Deepening of the voice (Hello Barry White!)
- Facial hair and later hair loss (Hello Telly Savalas!)
- Acne, stinky, oily skin (Hello puberty!)
- Muscle mass and bone strength (Hello Ahnold!)
If testosterone levels are low, men may complain (and complain we do!) of the following symptoms:
- Loss of erections
- Low libido
- Fat gain, muscle loss
- Man boobs
- Hot flashes
Now, I’m sure there are some women who are reading this and thinking…
- “Boo-hoo! We have to deal with hot flashes all the time! Maybe he’ll have a little sympathy for me now!”
- “Thank god!” Maybe he won’t want to get frisky so much! I’m exhausted.”
- “Wait a minute . . . he won’t want to have sex? That doesn’t sound good.”
So why does this happen? In some cases, the testicles eventually get tired and stop making testosterone at appropriate levels. This can happen to men as early as age 30. Another common cause for low T levels . . . Bad dietary habits (hello Chalupas). Unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, and weight gain can lower testosterone levels. Fat contains an enzyme that converts testosterone to the female hormone estrogen. This hormone imbalance in men causes weight gain, fatigue, depression. And this leads to avoiding the gym, sitting on the couch, and eating Taco Bell thus putting on more weight and perpetuating the cycle towards man boobs and unhappiness.
So what can a man do about this horrible condition? Let’s start with the holistic and more conservative options.
First, eat healthier and take some exercise. If you don’t start making healthier lifestyle decisions then what’s the point of starting testosterone replacement? Yes, you’ll feel better in the short term, but eventually being overweight will worsen as you age. Obesity, regardless of testosterone levels, is linked to erectile dysfunction, depression, heart disease etc. This is bad.
You may not want to hear it, but good food choices and exercise are a must.
Next, we’ve all seen those male enhancement pills advertised on TV. They work, right? Wrong. Don’t waste your money. Either you’re buying snake oil or worse, they could contain hormones at unknown doses that cause dangerous side effects. It’s a little known fact that sugar pills (or placebos) in most studies help about 40-50% of patients. So just because your buddy swears by Super Beta Penis Grower, doesn’t mean it’s actually doing him any good (if it worked all men would take it . . . trust me).
Finally, let’s talk about the “juice.” Testosterone replacement therapy or TRT. Every man, if given supplemental testosterone, will feel better. No question. But (and this is a big but) you have to have documented low levels (< 250 ng/dl) to justify the risks of taking the medication. Possible side effects can include worsening sleep apnea, aggressive behavior, liver dysfunction, prostate cancer or heart disease to name a few. With close monitoring however, these side effects can be caught early, reversed, and/or treated.
Testosterone can be administered via topical gels/foams/creams, injections and implantation of pellets. However, these may not always help with every symptom of low testosterone. Nonetheless, I’ve seen some dramatic quality of life improvements.
So what have we learned?
- Male menopause is a real thing.
- If you have symptoms suggestive of low testosterone, GET YOUR LEVELS CHECKED..
- Super Beta Penis Grower is a waste of money.
- With appropriate monitoring, replacing testosterone can provide a big boost in the bedroom and overall quality of life.
Further questions, comments, ideas for future topics? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until then, let’s spread the word about male menopause and put down the Chalupas!