Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Male Hormonal Issues

There has been a dramatic increase in male hormonal health issues over the course of the past ten years. It has an eerily similarity to the hormonal issues women have had to deal with for the past fifty years.

Fifty percent of all men over the age of 45 suffer some form of impotence – ED (erectile dysfunction) or low libido. Low testosterone is now routinely supported with HRT (hormone replacement therapy). We even nickname it “Low T”, running ads on television to sell testosterone to our middle aged male population. Please review my blog “New Drug Could Treat Low Testosterone with Fewer Side Effects” posted on Monday, August 11, 2014. Some physicians have been going “off label” and prescribing testosterone for women. I posted a blog entitled “Practice Guideline Nixes Testosterone Therapy for Women” on Friday, October 24, 2014.

Contamination of our environment is the core of all these hormonal issues, both male and female. Estrogens were introduced as pesticides 40 years ago when their predecessors were banned as carcinogenic. The concept was spraying our growing food with estrogen would disrupt the reproductive life cycle of the insects, effectively killing future generations. There was little or no concern about the potential effects on our reproductive life cycle as these products were incorporated in our food and water supply. Of course, the insects quickly adapted to estrogen based insecticides, we unfortunately can not.

Today estrogen is found in most of our food, in our drinking water, and even in the air we breathe. Municipalities are not required to test for estrogens in the water and therefore do not list this contamination on their water analysis reports.

Plastics also contribute to our hormonal crisis. Biphenyls are estrogen disruptors found in many plastic products. There are over 800 estrogen disruptors currently identified in every day household items like baby formula bottles, toys, and food storage containers. Please review my blog “Study Questions Safety Thresholds For Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals” posted on Friday, April 25, 2014.

The detrimental effects showed up in women first because their hormonal systems are more complex. Additionally, the widespread use of “the pill” and HRT compounded the problems. The dramatic increase in reproductive cancers in women – breast, cervical, ovarian, and uterine, are all directly related to these factors.

Now HRT for men has become widespread. Men take testosterone to increase their libido. However, it is the other effects that they really crave – the increased lean body mass, increased energy, and enhanced physical prowess that has them take larger and larger doses.

Exogenous testosterone actually decreases sperm production by decreasing the body’s own production of testosterone. This fact is lost on 25% of infertility specialists who routinely prescribe testosterone for low sperm count. At high levels it even creates impotence. Many men, although quite aware of this side effect, are so impressed with their enhanced physical appearance; they feel the trade off is worth it. Recently, I had a patient tell me he was considering reducing or stopping his testosterone because his new wife wanted to have a baby and he knew he was incapable of impregnating her.

Recently, I have started seeing young men, in their late teens or early 20’s with low testosterone or high estrogen. Both of these hormonal imbalances create symptoms that appear physiological in origin – flat affect, low personal drive, and introversion. Initially, I thought that this pattern was a result of long term anti-depressant medication as many of our children take these medications. (Most antidepressants do lower testosterone levels) However, the problem extends well beyond this drug side effect. These young men have been exposed to ever increasing levels of exogenous hormone all their lives.

Drink distilled water, eat organic whenever possible to reduce your exposure. Please avoid testosterone therapy, for any reason. If you suffer from “Low T”, there are natural methods to increase your body’s own production of testosterone. Finally, seek the advice of a qualified nutritionist to support detoxification of these exogenous hormones.

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