So today will be a bit more technical…..providing you with some basic information on the effects of hormones particularly testosterone. I hope you will find this information helpful and aid you in better understanding some of your own symptoms and feelings. So here goes……..
Hormone deficiencies currently affect over 55 million women and men in the United States; with the average American age on the rise, more research is being done on the effects of aging, hormone decline, and hormone therapy (HT). Commonly referred to as Menopause and Andropause (the “Male Menopause”), the decline in hormone production that results in a hormone deficiency often brings with it life altering changes.
When we think of menopausal women, patients and physicians usually only think of Estrogen levels; and even then estrogen levels are inappropriately interpreted and treated. However, a very important part of hormonal evaluation is measuring Testosterone levels and if low treating this deficiency. Testosterone levels start to decline as early as the late 20’s in women and it takes a gradual course throughout a women’s life. Usually women start to experience symptoms related to this deficiency in their late 30’s. This can present much earlier if a women is on oral birth control pills or anti-depressants. These along with other medications and disorders can cause free testosterone levels to become suppressed.
Testosterone gives women their mental clarity and mood stabilization, libido and sexual function, muscle tone and mass and ability to metabolize sugars into energy; giving them the ability to maintain a healthy weight. A testosterone deficient woman will usually have symptoms of extreme fatigue, inability to lose weight despite working out and dieting, irritability and lack of sex drive even when in a healthy loving relationship.
Andropause, the male version of menopause, is also caused by testosterone deficiency. Surprisingly, every man begins a gradual decline in hormone production around the age of 30. Men can present earlier if they have medical disorder or medications which lower testosterone levels; such as opiate therapy for chronic pain, steroid use/abuse, antidepressant use and premature gonad failure.
When men have lowered testosterone levels they find themselves putting on weight, losing muscle mass, feeling sluggish, depressed, irritable, and having sexual dysfunctions which range from decreased orgasmic strength to overt impotence.
The effect of hormone deficiency on the brain, muscle, bone, heart and metabolism can be significant without hormone therapy for women and men and dangerous to long term health. The brain needs a normal amount of testosterone in proper balance to produce serotonin which supports emotional balance. When lacking in these hormones, men and women will experience emotional instability that often results in increased anxiety, irritability, sleep disturbances, anger, sadness and depression. To make matters worse, physicians often diagnosis these patients with depression and put them on SSRI’s which only decrease the Testosterone levels further; exacerbating the problem.
The musculoskeletal system is also adversely affected by the loss of testosterone. Testosterone deficiency can lead to muscle atrophy, osteopenia, osteoporosis, and high levels of pain in the muscles and joints. Patients are often diagnosed with fibromyalgia when they really have a testosterone deficiency.
Glucose disorders and diabetes become more prevalent in patients with testosterone deficiency as testosterone must occupy its receptors on the muscle bed to properly intake sugar from the blood stream. After a meal in a testosterone deficient patient, the glucose load will be inadequately processed into energy in the muscle and stay in the blood stream; this results in high glucose levels, insulin resistance, weight gain and ultimately pre-diabetes and diabetes. This put patients at a much higher risk of developing metabolic syndromes and having adverse cardiac events.
Advances in understanding the function of hormones and the role of hormone replacement has made it possible to manage many of the negative side-effects associated with age-related hormone decline. One therapy that has gained popularity in recent years is biologically identical testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) for men and women.
TRT in men and women has been shown to enhance libido, decrease heart disease risk, increase lean body mass, and pre¬vent osteoporosis. Maintaining testosterone levels may also lower total cholesterol and LDL, and decrease insulin resistance. Additional research has shown a beneficial impact on cellular energy production, brain function, and oxygenation.
Testosterone therapy for men and women is based on personal hormone test results to determine the testosterone dosage that fits the needs of the person. No two people are alike, and hormone needs differ from person to person.
Biologically identical testosterone therapies include injections, topical creams and gels, sublingual tablets (dissolved under the tongue), and pellets. Injections are usually administered every two weeks. Topical gels are applied once per day and sublingual tablets are taken twice per day. Pellets are inserted by physicians subcutaneously and release a steady amount of testosterone over three to six months. (Not all formulations are available to women).
As with any prescription medication, the pros and cons of hormone therapy must be discussed with a knowledgeable healthcare provider who specializes in hormonal management.
So more again later……