Aging is difficult enough for women without having to deal with declining hormones. Women of Broward often complain of a diminished sense of wellbeing, chronic fatigue, and a loss of libido just to mention a few symptoms of hormone imbalance.
For many women there is a tremendous void in treatment of menopausal symptoms. Hot flashes, mood swings and low or no sex drive are just the tip of the iceberg. Some earlier hormone imbalance symptoms of estrogen deficiency are frequent waking at night. Many others are present, including “mental fogginess.” A woman’s short-term memory retention may be dwindling and her concentration and focus isn’t as good as it used to be. Frequently, women may experience some loss of energy to the point that they actually slide into symptoms of chronic fatigue.
In addition, women may experience some mood swings and irritability, and at the extreme may actually develop feelings of depression. With the loss of energy and chronic fatigue, females find themselves unable to exercise as much as in the past, or to recover as quickly when exercising. Women often find themselves increasing weight gain in spite of attempts at exercising. One hormone imbalance symptom that is not frequently discussed is the loss of sex drive and diminished libido. Not only is energy level and sense of wellbeing diminished, but anticipation and enjoyment of sexual activity is waning as well.
Medifast Recipes - Ways to Shake Up Your Medifast Shakes
Are you one of those guys who are burning the candle at both ends and maybe only getting 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night? Are you also one of those guys having problems with his sex drive and feeling out of sorts? Well, recent studies done in the last 3 years show that these symptoms could all be due to the effect of sleep on testosterone - just how, though, may be a chicken and egg question!
While it's true that lower testosterone levels can be the cause of a sluggish sex drive and irritability it seems to be a matter of research opinion whether low sleep levels cause low testosterone or low testosterone causes lack of sleep.
Here's what we know about sleep, and testosterone to date as it relates to men:
After age 30, men's testosterone levels drop between 1 and 2% a year! By the time they reach 40 they start experiencing trouble sleeping. They complain of less deep sleep time, the period of sleep where the body repairs itself.
In fact, as a man gets older, the most recent studies assert, he can lose deep sleep time altogether! That means the older a man gets, the more his testosterone levels continue to decline, the less deep sleep he gets, the more his body's repair mechanisms decline and the higher his risk climbs for disease!
The reason for this decline in deep sleep time is thought to be due to a loss of neuron activity, which synchronizes brain activity. These neurons are responsible for about 20% of achieving deep sleep. They are intact in young men and get further scrambled as a man ages.
To further complicate things, low testosterone levels are thought to contribute to this loss of neuron activity in the brain. The take away of these studies, then, whichever perspective you come from, seem to say that restoring testosterone to healthy, youthful levels would likely help a man not only achieve deep, restorative sleep again, but also keep him healthier, re-invigorate his sluggish sex drive and keep him in a happier frame of mind.
Do You Have Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
One of the most frequent complaints I hear from my over-40 patients is that their sex drive has diminished significantly from when they were younger. One of the first things I do is to check a testosterone level and most often find that it is decreased. Interestingly, as well, is that they also often complain of not sleeping very much and are depressed!
Now whether their lack of sleep is from a too hectic lifestyle, stress, or from their decreased testosterone level, is not clear. However, when I recommend that they try to get between 6-8 hours of sleep a night their testosterone levels seem to naturally increase and their mood is brighter!
But decreased testosterone levels don't just affect men over 50, it can start as young as the 30-40's! Many men don't seek treatment because they think it's just a part of getting older and they're embarrassed to talk about it! Like menopause in women, low testosterone is not something men have to suffer through just because it's associated with getting older. Here are some other symptoms you may not associate with low testosterone levels:
•Emotional changes, like depression, irritability, "grumpy old man" syndrome
•Decreased muscle strength
•Loss of height
•Weight gain, especially belly fat
What Does Cause Low Testosterone?
Low testosterone levels can be caused or aggravated by a number of things both nutritional and environmental. For my patients who have lower than optimal testosterone levels, here are some other things I tell them to pay attention to in their diet and lifestyle:
•Xenoestrogens - in food and water supplies. These are "environmental estrogens" from soy products and plastics that get into our food and can decrease testosterone levels. Stay away from foods containing soy, most notably protein bars and soymilk. If you buy frozen foods, transfer them from their plastic container into a glass dish before heating.
•Lack of Protein - men need between 0.5 to 1 gram of high quality protein per pound of body weight per day to both build muscle strength and testosterone. Sources include pork, beef, and chicken, which also have higher levels of zinc, which is testosterone friendly.
•Lack of Cholesterol - many men over 40 are watching cholesterol intake for the sake of their arteries, but too little cholesterol will stop testosterone production. Aim for about 30% fat, mostly monounsaturated (nuts, olive oil) and some saturated (red meat, eggs) to build testosterone. Go very light, or leave out, polyunsaturated fats (fish, vegetable oils) as studies have shown they can decrease testosterone perhaps because they may contain xenoestrogens.
•Lack of Nutrition - zinc is a major building mineral for testosterone. The B vitamins, especially B1, B6, and B12 are helpful in keeping testosterone levels healthy. Be sure that your vitamin/mineral supplement includes these.
•Too Much Alcohol - alcohol increases blood sugar levels, which decreases testosterone. Limit to a few drinks per week.
•Lack of Sleep - as mentioned earlier, less than 6 hours of sleep a night can seriously rob your body of its repairing mechanisms and this includes the re-manufacturing of hormones like testosterone. See that you get at least 6-8 hours of sleep at night, more if you have been ill or under a lot of stress. Try some natural sleep aids like Valerian, calcium/magnesium supplements with some warm milk before bed. Cut back caffeine to not past 4 pm, and limit heavy meals to 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Researchers may finally decide which comes first; low testosterone then poor sleep, or poor sleep then low testosterone. In the meantime, I'm going to continue to counsel my patients that adequate sleep is at least a significant factor in low testosterone levels. However, before you start thinking dangerous steroids or prescription testosterone replacements, try the natural suggestions offered here. I believe your T-levels will be up to optimal levels and your sex drive and pleasant mood back on track in no time!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Institute For Healthy Aging
Perimenopause Treatment - Beware of HRT
Theoretically, menopause is not a disease. Therefore, there is no cure. Many women opt to forgo any treatment at all, and simply tolerate many of the symptoms associated with this normal transition. However, for those women whose symptoms are so severe as to interfere with their quality of life, there are many options at their disposal.
Remedies may be implemented by the woman herself for the conditions associated with menopause. For example,
Hot flashes: Several nonprescription treatments are available, and lifestyle choices can help.
- Many women feel that regular aerobic exercise can help reduce hot flashes
- Foods that may trigger hot flashes, such as spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol, should be avoided.
Weight gain: Regular exercise is helpful in controlling weight.
Osteoporosis: Adequate calcium intake and weight-bearing exercise are important. Strength training (lifting weights or using exercise bands in resistance training) can strengthen bones.
Certain medications are beneficial in reducing many of the signs and symptoms of menopause.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
- estrogen or a combination of estrogen and progestin
- treats hot flashes
- reduce fracture risk by building bone mass
- improve cholesterol levels
- decrease vaginal dryness
- estrogen and progestin combination associated with increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer
- estrogen alone associated with increased risk of endometrial cancer
- increased risk of gallstones and blood clots
- normally used for depression and anxiety
- effective in reducing hot flashes
- used to lower blood pressure
- effective in reducing hot flashes
- primarily used for treating seizures
- used to treat hot flashes
- short-term relief of hot flashes
- not recommended as first-line drug
- sometimes effective in treating hot flashes
- may cause weight gain and bone loss
- Aldenodrate (Fosamax)
- Raloxifene (Evista)
- Calcitonin (Calcimar or Miacalcin)
- herbal supplement
- German studies recommend limiting its use to six months or less
- not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration
- side effects include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, visual problems, slow heart beat, and excessive sweating
- soy is an example
- safety of soy in women with breast cancer not established
- dong quai
- red clover
- yam cream
- Chinese medicinal herbs
- evening primrose oil
How Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy Is Used To Treat Menopause
For many women, the prospect of facing menopause brings great fear and apprehension. It is a time in life where reproduction ends, and for some women, leaves them with no way of identifying what their future life's purpose will be. Many women recall with not so fond memories the experiences of their mothers and grandmothers as they faced menopause with few of the hormone replacement help methods, which are available to females today. We have all heard the horror stories of hormone imbalance: night sweats, mood swings, etc. and are certainly not looking forward to the time when we too will be facing these unpleasant hormone deficiency side effects that often go hand in hand with perimenopause and menopause.
However, countless women today are seeking new ways to cope with the unpleasant hormonal changes, which so often accompany the onset of menopause. In the past, women have relied upon synthetic hormone replacement treatments which have been rather hit or miss in terms of their effectiveness. With the release of the Women's Health Initiative study, proving some synthetic hormones to be more harmful than good, women feared hormone replacement therapy all together. What most women didn't realize was that the WHI study neglected to disclose that their researchers did not use bio-identical hormones but only synthetic hormones. Although initial confusion about HRT was created, women are now searching for alternatives to hormone replacement and discovering a new safer solution which is bio-identical hormone replacement therapy or BHRT.
Although BHRT is an age old remedy, countless doctors and their patients are just learning of this option. If you are wondering why doctors are just learning of BHRT, there is a simple answer. Bio-identical hormones aren't patentable because they are in their natural form, thus pharmaceutical companies don't do studies on them. However, BHRT is in the forefront of anti-aging treatment and for many doctors the newest method for helping cure much that ails the menopausal woman. Different from conventional methods of hormone replacement therapy, which seeks to have women ingest synthetic or chemically altered versions of naturally occurring hormones, BHRT offers a more natural fit for the body. BHRT offers women plant based hormones that have the exact chemical and molecular structure as hormones that are produced in the human body. Unlike synthetic hormones, BHRT isn't alien to our body thus BHRT is received well with virtually no side effects.
BHRT is allowing many women to address the multiple concerns and health issues which rapidly face women who are actively going through the stages of menopause. The doses of BHRT are designed for each individual patient and are not a one-size fits all recipe. With bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, there is the recognition that each woman is different, therefore, her hormone treatment must be individualized to meet her very specific needs. Physicians who are advancing the use of bio-idientical hormone replacement therapies for their patients will first work with a woman to discover if she is actively in the perimenopause / menopause stage. Not only will the doctor need a complete physical history, but he or she will also need a patient's most up-to-date medical information which will in turn aid her in determining the specifics of each individual woman's case. At this point physicians who use bio-identical hormone replacement therapy will take blood, and from the blood results, can determine in which hormonal areas the female patient may be struggling.
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy then calls for each hormone supplement to be compounded and dispensed in a manner which will be most effective in treating the specific hormone levels of the female patient involved. This type of customization of medicine ensures that an individual's specific concerns are addressed and that the menopause symptoms, the ones that are most bothersome to the patient, will be actively treated and brought under control.
There are many who are vocally singing the praises of BHRT. Numerous followers in the healthcare profession, particularly those who deal with women's health and their concerns, are ecstatic over these remarkable developments in the treatment of menopause. Many are finding their patients happier and healthier than they have seen them in years; furthermore, they like that bio-identical hormone replacement therapy has virtually no known side effects unlike synthetic hormones. BHRT seems to reduce the risks of blood clots and strokes, which can be so prevalent with the use of traditional hormone replacement therapy, and there are fewer concerns over cancer rates. Actually, in well known medical journals, researchers have reported that the bio-identical hormones, estrogen and testosterone, are not only safe but also have a positive impact on some diseases like osteoporosis and prostate cancer.
While many healthcare providers are still citing the lack of FDA approval, BHRT seems to be making quite a mark in the world of women's healthcare. For too long, women have been subjected to the toils and troubles that menopause can bring. With the advent of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, the many concerns of patients and doctors are disappearing, as the hormone treatment continues to produce positive results and prove itself effective with even more patients. Numerous women are now able to approach this new stage of their lives feeling healthy and happy, ready to conquer the many unique and rewarding challenges and dreams that will come in the remainder of their adult life.
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