Hormones are chemicals that control body functions such as metabolic rate, growth, sleep, blood sugar regulation, and reproduction. When hormone levels are off even a tiny bit, the effects on the body can be dramatic.
Hormonal imbalances in aging women are well known as menopause, but a lesser-known fact is men can also go through male menopause called andropause. Besides hormonal shifts with aging, hormones can also become imbalanced from stress, certain illnesses, and other lifestyle factors. These varying causes can make it hard to identify when and if a hormone imbalance occurs.
Wondering what entails the often overlooked hormonal imbalance in men? Read more to discover the causes and hormonal imbalance treatment in men.
Hormonal Imbalance in Men
Both men and women can be affected by shifts in a number of hormones such as insulin, growth hormone, or thyroid hormone. However, adult men are much more likely to be affected by an imbalance in testosterone, as testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men.
Compared to women, men’s decline in sex hormone testosterone with age is generally more subtle than what women experience with menopause.
Causes of Hormonal Imbalance
Men and women experience a surge of sex hormones with puberty and a decline in sex hormone levels with aging in adult years. Therefore, a hormonal imbalance with a decline of testosterone can be common from middle age or later years in men.
Other causes of hormonal imbalance for men could include:
• Chronic stress
• Being overweight or obese
• Genetic factors
• Poor diet and/or lack of exercise
• Exposure to toxins or chemicals
• A result from an underlying medical condition or treatment
• Drug or steroid use
Signs of Hormonal Imbalance in Men
These signs may be an indication there is a testosterone hormonal imbalance, but they could also be symptoms of other problems too. A consultation and further testing from a doctor is needed to know for sure if hormonal imbalances are indeed the cause of these symptoms.
• Low libido
• Erectile dysfunction
• Decreased muscle tone
• Changes in mood
• Difficulty with focusing or memory
• Weakened bones
• Enlarged breasts (gynecomastia)
Hormonal Imbalance Test
A blood test can help determine if hormone levels are too low or high. Winchester Hospital suggests normal testosterone blood ranges for men can range between 250 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL).
If testosterone is imbalanced, further tests can be run to determine if there are any other underlying conditions contributing to low testosterone.
How to Fix Hormonal Imbalance
If blood tests indeed show there is a hormone imbalance, treatment options can help bring it back to normal. Depending on which hormone is imbalanced, severity, individual medical history, and cause for imbalanced hormones will determine what the best treatment options are.
One way to help prevent and/or treat low testosterone is to eat foods that naturally boost testosterone. Increasing exercise can also help naturally boost testosterone. Piedmont Healthcare suggests weight lifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are the best exercises to increase testosterone because they emphasize building muscle and can aid weight loss. If overweight or obese, losing weight can help balance testosterone.
Throughout adulthood, eating a healthy diet that emphasizes food sources of testosterone, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight are all ways to help offset the natural decline of testosterone, and andropause, associated with aging.
If testosterone levels are surprisingly low and/or low in a younger man, hormone therapy may be needed. Under the guidance of a doctor, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can be a way to fix low testosterone.
However, it is not yet clear if TRT increases the risk of heart disease in men like hormone replacement therapy can in women. Research is still unclear if there is a link between TRT and increased risk for prostate cancer. Therefore, TRT should be discussed with your healthcare team to determine if it is the best treatment option.
Sex hormone imbalances are usually associated with women going through menopause, but men can also experience testosterone imbalance with aging called andropause. Andropause can be more subtle shifts in symptoms than menopause, but it is still important to recognize if testosterone is imbalanced in men.
Other causes of hormonal imbalances in men besides associated with aging include various factors such as chronic stress, unhealthy lifestyle, being overweight/obese, other medical conditions, or a side effect from toxins, chemicals, or drug use.
Treating hormonal imbalances can vary, and there are several options for the somewhat common occurrence of low testosterone. They include eating natural testosterone food sources, exercising, weight loss (if needed), and possibly testosterone replacement therapy.
Andropause: Age-Related Hormone Changes in Men. Winchester Hospital. https://www.winchesterhospital.org/health-library/article?id=45937.
Hormonal imbalance: Symptoms, causes, and treatment. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321486#causes. How Can a Man Tell If He Has a Hormonal Imbalance?
MedicineNet. Published January 12, 2021. https://www.medicinenet.com/how_can_a_man_tell_if_he_has_a_hormonal_imbalance/article.htm.