Bioidentical Hormones For Men’s Health
While familiar among doctors, surprisingly few men are aware of male menopause or andropause. This condition has been found in medical literature since the 1940’s, but since doctors lacked a method to properly diagnose the condition and because the symptoms are so gradual and vary from man to man, little was done to educate the population. As a result, andropause has been vastly under diagnosed and untreated. Having male clients get blood work can allow the physicians at Boca Rejuvenation to monitor testosterone along every aspect of the patients’ hormone levels, restoring their overall health and wellbeing.
Andropause is a result of a gradual drop in testosterone, which is an androgen, giving the condition its name. In all cases, bio-identical hormones can be a part of the solution. When men get into their early 30’s they begin losing testosterone at a rate of one to two percent a year. According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 4 – 5 million men have symptoms of low testosterone levels and only 5 – 10% of these men will seek treatment.
A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report analyzed male hormones and found that testosterone levels in 70 year-old men were 10% of the levels in males that were 25 years old. By the time men are between the ages of 40 and 55 they have been experiencing the effects of andropause for quite some time.
Androgens, also called androgenic hormones or testoids, is the generic term for any natural or synthetic compound, usually a steroid hormone that stimulates or controls the development and maintenance of male characteristics in vertebrates by binding to androgen receptors. This includes the activity of the accessory male sex organs and development of male secondary sex characteristics. Androgens were first discovered in 1936. Androgens are also the original anabolic steroids and the precursor of all estrogens, the female sex hormones. The primary and most well known androgen is testosterone.
The Importance of Testosterone
Testosterone assists the male body in building protein and is crucial for normal sexual drive, stamina, and in producing erections. Testosterone also contributes to several metabolic functions including bone formation, liver function, prostate gland growth, production of blood cells in bone marrow, and strengthening the heart. Some of the symptoms of an androgen and testosterone imbalance can include:
- Weight Gain
- Sleep Apnea
- Memory Loss
- Diminished Libido
- Hair Loss
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Muscle Loss
- Night Sweats
- Gynecomastia (male breasts)
The mesoderm-derived epithelial cells of the sex cords in developing testes become the Sertoli cells, which will function to support sperm cell formation. A minor population of non-epithelial cells appears between the tubules by week 8 of human fetal development. These are Leydig cells. Soon after they differentiate, Leydig cells begin to produce androgens.
The androgens function as paracrine hormones required by the Sertoli cells in order to support sperm production. They are also required for masculinization of the developing male fetus (including penis and scrotum formation). Under the influence of androgens, remnants of the mesonephron, the Wolffian ducts, develop into the epididymis, vas deferens and seminal vesicles. This action of androgens is supported by a hormone from Sertoli cells,MIH (Mullerian Inhibitory Hormone), which prevents the embryonic Müllerian ducts from developing into fallopian tubes and other female reproductive tract tissues in male embryos. MIH and androgens cooperate to allow for the normal movement of testes into the scrotum.
Functions of Male Androgens
During mammalian development, the gonads are at first capable of becoming either ovaries or testes. In humans, starting at about week 4 the gonadal rudiments are present within the intermediate mesoderm adjacent to the developing kidneys. At about week 6, epithelial sex cords develop within the forming testes and incorporate the germ cells as they migrate into the gonads. In males, certain Y chromosome genes, particularly SRY, control development of the male phenotype, including conversion of the early bi-potential gonad into testes. In males, the sex cords fully invade the developing gonads.
Before the production of the pituitary hormone LH by the embryo starting at about weeks 11-12, human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) promotes the differentiation of Leydig cells and their production of androgens. Androgen action in target tissues often involves conversion of testosterone to 5a-dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
During puberty, androgen, LH and FSH production increase and the sex cords hollow out, forming the somniferous tubules, and the germ cells start to differentiate into sperm. Throughout adulthood, androgens and FSH cooperatively act on Sertoli cells in the testes to support sperm production. Exogenous androgen supplements can be used as a male contraceptive. Elevated androgen levels caused by use of androgen supplements can inhibit production of LH and block production of endogenous androgens by Leydig cells. Without the locally high levels of androgens in testes due to androgen production by Leydig cells, the somniferous tubules can degenerate resulting in infertility. For this reason, many transdermal androgen patches are applied to the scrotum.
Inhibition of Fat Deposition
Males typically have less adipose tissue than females. Recent results indicate that androgens inhibit the ability of some fat cells to store lipids by blocking a signal transduction pathway that normally supports adipocyte function. Also, androgens, but not estrogens, increase beta adrenergic receptors while decreasing alpha adrenergic receptors- which results in increased levels of epinephrine/ nor epinephrine due to lack of alpha-2 receptor negative feedback and decreased fat accumulation due to epinephrine/ nor epinephrine then acting on lipolysis-inducing beta receptors.
Males typically have more skeletal muscle mass than females. Androgens promote the enlargement of skeletal muscle cells and probably act in a coordinated manner to function by acting on several cell types in skeletal muscle tissue. One type of cell that conveys hormone signals to generating muscle is the myoblast. Higher androgen levels lead to increased expression of androgen receptor. Fusion of myoblasts generates myotubes, in a process that is linked to androgen receptor levels.
Circulating levels of androgens can influence human behavior because some neurons are sensitive to steroid hormones. Androgen levels have been implicated in the regulation of human aggression and libido. Indeed, androgens are capable of altering the structure of the brain in several species, including mice, rats, and primates, producing sex differences. Although, their potential for conversion makes identifying which alterations in neuroanatomy stem from androgens or estrogens slightly difficult, numerous reports have outlined that androgens alone are capable of altering the structure of the brain.
The Bio-identical Testosterone Therapy Solution
The risks and benefits of testosterone replacement need to be evaluated by a qualified hormone therapy expert like those at Boca Rejuvenation. Each man’s anatomy and physiology are different; so it’s not a one size fits all diagnosis. Testosterone replacement therapy is a treatment for men with low testosterone who want to boost their overall health and wellbeing. Perhaps the best news for men is that hormone losses and imbalances are easily correctible, and through proper treatment, Boca Rejuvenation can bring about a healthier, younger more vital you.