Why Men’s Hormone Health Is So Important
Men’s hormone health is critical to their overall well-being, affecting everything from their sex drive and mood to their bone density and cardiovascular health. Hormonal imbalances can occur at any age and can cause a wide range of symptoms, from fatigue and mood swings to infertility and an increased risk of chronic disease. Understanding the basics of men’s hormone health, including the hormones involved and the symptoms of imbalances, can help men take steps to support their hormone health and prevent potential health problems down the road.
What Do Hormones Do?
Hormones are chemical messengers the endocrine system produces that regulate various bodily functions, including growth and development, metabolism, and reproduction.
Both men and women have many hormones in their bodies, but the types and levels of hormones can differ between the sexes.
Here are some of the hormones that keep men healthy and active:
- Testosterone – the primary male sex hormone produced by the testes.
- Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) – a testosterone derivative responsible for male characteristics such as facial hair and a deepened voice.
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) – hormones the adrenal glands produce that contribute to testosterone production.
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) – a hormone the pituitary gland produces that stimulates sperm production.
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) – a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates the testes to produce testosterone.
While women’s bodies and men’s bodies share these hormones, they play different roles in men’s hormone health versus women’s hormone health.
What Role Do “Female Hormones” Play in Men’s Hormone Health?
“Female hormones” usually refer to hormones primarily produced in women, such as estrogen and progesterone. While men have some estrogen and progesterone levels, they are typically present at much lower levels than women and are not considered “female hormones.” But they each play a part in men’s hormone health.
Men have progesterone, for instance, but typically at much lower levels than women. Progesterone is produced in the testes and adrenal glands and in small amounts in the brain and other tissues. In men, progesterone produces other hormones, such as testosterone and cortisol, and may also affect the immune system and brain function.
Men also have low levels of estrogen in their bodies. The primary estrogen hormone for men’s health is estradiol, produced in the testes, adrenal glands, and fat tissue. In men, estradiol plays a role in bone health, cognitive function, and cardiovascular health. However, high estrogen levels in men can cause health problems, such as infertility, gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue), and an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Men and women share many other hormones that provide the same function for each sex. These hormones, such as cortisol, growth hormones, thyroid hormones, insulin, and melatonin, are gender-neutral or non-gender-specific. These hormones regulate various bodily functions, including metabolism, growth, and immune response.
Men’s Hormone Health Imbalances
Men’s hormone health is essential for overall health and well-being, as hormones play a critical role in many bodily functions. When hormones become imbalanced, it affects your health in many ways.
1. Testosterone Levels
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone essential for developing male characteristics, such as muscle mass, bone density, and libido. Low testosterone levels can cause various symptoms, including fatigue, reduced muscle mass, and decreased libido. Men need to check their testosterone levels regularly to ensure they are within a healthy range.
2. Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a hormone released in response to stress, and chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels. High cortisol levels over time can negatively affect the immune system, metabolism, and mental health.
3. Thyroid Function
The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism, and imbalances in thyroid hormones can cause a range of symptoms, including weight changes, fatigue, and mood disturbances.
4. Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance, which occurs when the body’s cells become less sensitive to insulin, is associated with various health problems, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Symptoms of Men’s Hormone Health Imbalances
Hormonal imbalances in men can cause a variety of symptoms depending on which hormones are affected and to what extent. Here are some of the common symptoms of hormonal imbalances in men:
- Low libido or erectile dysfunction: Low levels of testosterone can cause a decrease in sex drive and may lead to difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection.
- Fatigue: Imbalances in hormones such as testosterone and cortisol can cause feelings of fatigue and low energy.
- Mood changes: Changes in hormone levels can lead to mood swings, irritability, and depression.
- Muscle loss: Low levels of testosterone can cause a decrease in muscle mass and strength.
- Weight gain: Imbalances in hormones such as insulin and cortisol can contribute to weight gain, particularly around the belly area.
- Hair loss: Testosterone is important for maintaining hair growth, and imbalances in this hormone can lead to hair loss or thinning.
- Gynecomastia: Elevated estrogen levels relative to testosterone can lead to the development of breast tissue in men.
- Changes in sleep patterns: Hormonal imbalances can lead to sleep disturbances, including difficulty falling or staying asleep.
Men’s hormone health can negatively impact their health if imbalances are not addressed or treated. Here are some harmful effects that can occur from hormonal imbalances in men:
- Infertility: Low testosterone levels can lead to reduced sperm production, which can cause infertility.
- Osteoporosis: Testosterone is important for maintaining bone density, and low levels of this hormone can increase the risk of osteoporosis, which is a condition that causes weakened and fragile bones.
- Cardiovascular disease: Hormonal imbalances such as high estrogen or low testosterone levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.
- Diabetes: Insulin resistance, associated with imbalances in hormones such as insulin and cortisol, can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Mental health problems: Hormonal imbalances can contribute to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and mood swings.
- Cancer: Certain hormonal imbalances, such as elevated levels of estrogen or low levels of testosterone, can increase the risk of certain types of cancer, including prostate cancer.
How Does a Naturopathic Approach Help Men’s Hormone Health?
Naturopathic medicine is a safe, all-natural approach to men’s hormone health. Remedies are tailored to your specific needs and are designed to boost your body’s natural ability to heal.
A naturopathic doctor’s approach to men’s hormonal imbalances restores physical and mental well-being by doing the following:
- Balancing hormones: Naturopathic remedies are selected based on an individual’s symptoms and constitution. These remedies help balance hormones by stimulating the body’s natural healing processes.
- Reducing stress: Stress can harm hormone health, and some naturopathic remedies can reduce stress and promote relaxation.
- Addressing specific symptoms: Naturopathic remedies can be tailored to address specific symptoms of hormonal imbalances, such as low libido, fatigue, or mood swings.
At Thrive Naturopathic in Alexandria, VA, we understand that men’s hormone health is the key to vitality. If you don’t feel like yourself anymore, your hormones may be out of balance. Book your discovery call, and let’s get started on your journey back to health. Your best life is waiting, and we can help you get there.