Are you a male in your early 40s or 50s? Have you noticed that things are wearing you out now that didn't before?
Maybe your memory isn't what it used to be. Or maybe your sexual performance has taken a dive recently.
Well, don't be so quick to chalk those things up to just getting older. You could be one of up to 40% of American men suffering from male hormone imbalance and not even know it! The only way to know for sure is to get a male hormone test.
So, what exactly are male hormones, and what would a hormone test involve? Keep reading to find out!
What Are Male Hormones?
Generally speaking, hormones are your body's chemical messengers. The Greek word means "setting in motion." So, they get things going, biologically speaking.
And when people refer to "male hormones," they're usually talking about a chemical called testosterone. There are others, though, and their levels are also tested during a hormone panel. Testosterone is a steroid hormone, which means that it's an organic compound composed of four rings of carbon atoms.
Testosterone is produced in both men and women. In men, testosterone is primarily produced in the testicles and is responsible (either wholly or partly) for:
- The development of the male genitalia while in the womb
- The deepening of the voice during puberty
- The growth of facial and pubic hair (beginning at puberty)
- The growth of muscle mass
- Muscle strength
- Bone growth and density
- Sex drive (libido)
- The production of sperm
- Verbal memory
- Cognitive function
Too much testosterone, however, can lead to:
- Unprovoked or excessive aggression
- Hardening of the blood vessels
- Increased levels of cholesterol
- Prostate problems
About Male Hormone Imbalance
The endocrine system comprises several different glands that produce a myriad of hormones. Dysfunction in any of these can cause a hormonal imbalance, and the four types that most commonly affect males are as follows.
This is the most common type of male hormone imbalance. "Andro" is Greek for "man," while "pause" indicates that a process is coming to a halt. It's called this due to its loose resemblance to menopause in women, and it is often referred to as "male menopause." However, its official name is late-onset hypogonadism.
A stress reaction triggers the production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol is produced in your adrenal gland, and being overexposed to it for extended periods of time can lead to things like anxiety, depression, heart disease, and digestive problems.
Your thyroid gland produces two hormones: triiodothyronine and thyroxine. "Hypo" denotes that there isn't enough of something. In this case, the thyroid gland isn't producing enough of those hormones, leading to chronic fatigue, weight gain, and sensitivity to cold temperatures.
As opposed to the above, "hyper" indicates that the thyroid glands are producing too much of their hormones. This leads to symptoms like rapid weight loss, difficulty sleeping, hyperactivity, and sensitivity to heat.
Because the production of male hormones begins to steadily taper after the age of 20, aging is one of the main causes of hormone imbalance. A man's growth hormone production tends to drop to around 50% by the age of 40.
But simply getting older isn't the only culprit behind low testosterone. Other factors include:
- Low levels of activity
- Calorie-restricted and low-fat diets
- Physical injury to the testicles
- Certain medications like long-acting opioids, ketoconazole, cimetidine, spironolactone, some antidepressants, chemotherapy drugs, and some statins
- Lack of sleep
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Low self-esteem
Signs or Symptoms
The following telltale indicators of hormonal imbalance in a man are also common signs of aging. That's why it's so important that you carry out a male hormone imbalance test.
- Decreased cognitive function
- Hair loss
- Loss of muscle mass
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low sex drive (loss of libido)
- Memory loss
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- An increase in fat accumulation in the belly and/or chest (gynecomastia or "man boobs")
Laboratory Tests for Male Hormone Imbalance
When seeking to diagnose a hormonal imbalance, it is standard practice to carry out hormone panel testing. This is done to establish a baseline for the levels of all your hormones, which can then be compared against acceptable ranges.
After assessing the following hormones, your health care provider can develop a replacement or supplement plan tailored to your specific needs. This will be intended to restore your body's hormone balance.
- DHEA: A precursor to testosterone and progesterone produced in the adrenal glands; too much or too little can unbalance the levels of male and female hormones in the body
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): A hormone responsible for the production of sperm; low levels can lead to infertility
- Androstenedione: A weak androgen that is also a precursor to both male and female hormones; if levels of this hormone are not monitored during therapy, excess estrogen can be produced (essentially defeating the purpose)
- Testosterone: The androgen responsible for male characteristics; a precursor to DHT
- Dihydrotestosterone (DHT): A very powerful androgen; excess levels can result in hair thinning/loss and prostate enlargement
- Progesterone: A female sex hormone that serves the purpose of checking the effects of DHT in males
- Estradiol: A strong estrogen, which is another female hormone; plays a role in regulating the libido, erectile dysfunction, and sperm production
- Estrone: A weaker estrogen produced in fat cells
Frequently Asked Questions
Because we fear what we don't know, medical issues can cause a lot of trepidation, especially with the issue of male hormone imbalance. To put your mind at ease, here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about low testosterone.
How Is Low Testosterone Treated?
Male hormonal imbalance is most commonly treated with a hormone replacement therapy called testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). This is essentially intended to boost testosterone levels by supplementing your body's lagging production of it.
What Are the Possible Side Effects of TRT?
In some cases, TRT can worsen sleep apnea, cause acne or other skin conditions, enlarge the prostate, feed the growth of prostate cancer, enlarge the breasts, reduce sperm count, or cause the testicles to shrink. The increased production of red blood cells that TRT causes can also lead to the formation of blood clots.
What Are the Benefits of Balancing Testosterone Levels?
Among the many benefits of TRT are:
- Improved libido
- Improved sexual performance
- Lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDLs)
- Increased muscle mass and strength
- Decreased body fat
- More confidence and a better mood
- Higher energy levels during the day
- Better quality of sleep
- Improved brain function and cognitive ability
- Improved regulation of blood sugar, which leads to a decreased risk of diabetes
Where Can I Get a Male Hormone Test?
A male hormone test can be expensive, and the process can be a hassle. But at Ulta Lab Tests, we've gone out of our way to make the process affordable and convenient.
All of our tests are accurate and reliable. The results of your hormone panel test will be returned to you within 24 to 48 hours, so you can start making informed decisions that allow you to take charge of your own health.
You won't need insurance or a referral. Tests are affordable, and the doctor's order will be included in the price!
Take control of your health today with a male hormone test from Ulta Lab Tests.