Testosterone is a sex hormone, often thought of as the “male” hormone (though males simply have more of it, as females have more estrogen). Testosterone often provides the spark that can be fundamental to the experience of many men, like robust energy, libido, and strength. Decreased levels of testosterone can result in low energy, reduced libido, a loss of muscle mass and increase in abdominal fat, as well as changes in mood and cognition.
Naturopathic doctors, through lab testing, physical exam, and thorough history taking, can work to diagnose the cause of decreased testosterone levels, so the correct treatment can be given. A common cause is called Andropause, a term that refers to the changes in hormone levels with age (akin to changes during menopause in women). Declining testosterone levels as we age are at least partly responsible for the changes many men experience in their 30’s, 40’s, and beyond. Not only do levels of testosterone decrease as we age, but the amount of estrogen in relation to testosterone may increase.
A thorough investigation is important to determine the root cause. In an initial appointment I determine which of the main factors may be playing a role for you…diet and exercise patterns, stress and sleep factors, as well as any underlying health conditions. Decreased testosterone levels may be associated with certain conditions, like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Removing any obstacles to you feeling great helps provide a solid foundation for your body to optimally regulate testosterone levels.
There are many tools to help men who are experiencing changes during this time. Working to optimize diet & nutrients, exercise, and weight management (especially abdominal weight) are all key aspects of a successful plan.
At the same time, many herbal medicines are excellent at improving energy levels and sexual function while reducing irritability and mental fatigue associated with changes in testosterone. Herbs used successfully may include Eleuthro, Rhodiola, Pine pollen, and many more. Hops, while being a useful herbal medicine in certain situations, are abundant in beer and too much may worsen the situation. Herbal licorice root too should be avoided in andropause.
Acupuncture is also shown to be beneficial for male sexual health and hormone balancing, as well as boosting energy.
As a licensed naturopathic doctor, I use any and all of these tools to help every person as an individual look and feel their best. I strive to listen and educate, assessing your needs and goals so we can work together to keep you vital and healthy in the future. We may not be able to stop testosterone levels from declining with age, but you and I can work together so you can feel strong and vital with good energy and libido, no matter your age.
As always, this is purely general health-related information and is not meant to substitute for a visit with a regulated healthcare practitioner. Always consult your licensed naturopathic doctor or medical doctor should you have any questions or concerns.
Dr. Shawn Peters is a naturopathic physician. He works at the MCNM in downtown Courtenay.