The body is a highly-functioning complex entity, which stands to reason that sometimes things can go wrong in the body. Many of the body's processes require hormones to regulate them. For the body to perform at peak, these hormones have to increase and decrease appropriately. Any hormonal imbalances can have far reaching consequences. Popular media is always expounding hormonal imbalances in the varying stages in a woman's life. There is hardly any information about any hormonal imbalances in men.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Men
Some common symptoms experienced by a man with a hormonal imbalance include:
- Breast development in men (medically termed gynaecomastia)
- Body fat increases, especially around the hip area or waist area
- Loss of muscle mass
- Muscle weakness and body ache
- Irritability and nervousness
- Mood swings
- Sexual dysfunction, loss of sexual interest and erectile problems
- Anxiety disorders
- Unexplained sweating, especially at night time
- Unusual bowel movements, constipation or increased bowel evacuations
- Changes to normal urinary patterns, such as increased need to urinate all the time or decreased urine output
- Decreased energy levels and feeling tired all the time
- Feeling like your heart is going to pop right out your chest, palpitations
- Skin changing like acne or thinning skin
- Increased facial and body hair
Once the hormonal imbalance in men is positively diagnosed, your medical practitioner can treat the condition. This will minimize and even completely stop the symptoms, making you feel healthier and stronger.
What Cause Hormonal Imbalances in Men?
Many of the symptoms listed above can be attributed to an imbalance of two important sex hormones: testosterone and estrogen. When the testosterone levels are lower and the estrogen levels are higher than normal, one or more of the following factors can be blamed:
- Adrenal fatigue causes levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, to be higher than normal.
- An excess of refined carbohydrates, like cakes, sweets, white bread and rice can interfere with your insulin levels. This, in turn, interferes with the estrogen and testosterone levels.
- Men with excess weight around the abdomen have higher levels of estrogen than required for a healthy male body.
- Meat consumed is often tainted with synthetic hormones to speed up the maturity process of the animal.
- Too much alcohol can decrease testosterone.
- Certain plastics and personal products contain a chemical substance known as xenoestrogens which cause this hormonal imbalance. These xenoestrogens exhibit an estrogen-like behavior in the body. They can also be found in pesticides, in our drinking water, etc.
- Excessive endurance exercise causes a drop in testosterone but increases the estrogen.
- As with menopause in women, men experience andropause. This is caused by aging. Testosterone levels decline over time and estrogen levels become dominant in the body.
How to Treat Hormonal Imbalance in Men
- Regular exercise: maintain a healthy weight by moving your body more. The higher the levels of fat your body contains, the lower the levels of testosterone. Fats play an important part in converting testosterone to estrogen. Regular exercise has also been shown to be mood-elevating because it releases a brain-chemical called endorphins which improve the mood. Moderately exhausting the body can also alleviate the insomnia you may be experiencing.
- Increase your daily calcium intake: calcium is found in dark leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, dairy products and almonds. A lower level of testosterone predisposes the body to bone disorders like osteoporosis (low density in bones, making you more prone to fractures).
- Keep your body free of toxins: heavily processed foods contain chemicals that interact with our bodies negatively. These chemicals are toxic to the cells of the body and cause hormonal imbalances in men and women. Avoid fast foods, canned foods and processed foods.
- Eat a healthy, nutritious diet full of vegetables and fruits to help you detoxify your body from all unhealthy chemicals and preservatives. Certain herbs are helpful in detoxification like basil, oregano, rosemary, etc. Fruits useful in detoxification are watermelons, oranges, berries, grapes, etc. Seafood contains omega-3 which can regulate hormones.
- Increase foods that have anti-estrogenic activity, including cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli to relieve hormonal imbalance in men. Other vegetables in this category are flax seeds, chia seeds, pomegranates, mushrooms and whole grains.
- Decrease and manage your stress levels by avoiding certain stressors and engage in some physical activity. High stress levels result in high levels of a hormone called cortisol. This hormone acts to decrease the effects of testosterone so the estrogen becomes the dominant hormone. Manage your time and prioritize your tasks. Learn techniques such as meditation and deep breathing to calm your mind and body. Activities such as yoga, Tai Chi and swimming are good gentle techniques to reduce stress.
- Get sufficient sleep to give your body time to stabilize testosterone levels. Testosterone production is optimal during REM sleep. It was found that a lack of sleep will decrease testosterone levels. Avoid any electronic devices at bedtime that will interfere with the body relaxing enough to sleep soundly.
Testosterone replacement therapy: the hormone is prescribed to the patient to increase testosterone levels in the body. Hormone replacement therapy can be in various formulations: tablet, injectable, capsules, topical gels or creams and topical patches. Doctors have to monitor patients on hormone replacement therapy to ensure there are no underlying conditions that can be exacerbated by the extra testosterone, like prostate cancer.