On the Beat: 4/5/16

Am I going through the “change”?

By Jim Bucher

As we get older, the levels of our sex hormones decline. In women, this leads to menopause. But do men go through a male equivalent as their testosterone drops? I’m a red blooded American male in the midst of middle age—is this something I’m going to experience?

Hmmm, good question.

You know, “menopause” in women, “MANopause” for men?

For me I’ve noticed the “hey kids, get off my grass” syndrome. I know it shouldn’t, but everything seems to bug me. Waiting for traffic lights, loud noises, slow drivers, irritating commercials (not any of mine of course) … I have no patience. I’m irritable. I’m grumpy.

But is this a sign of “MANopause” or just a ‘thing?’

Some experts and men themselves are convinced that men, indeed, do have their own version of menopause, blaming a drop in testosterone for a host of middle-age problems, from low energy and poor concentration to man boobs, irritability and impotence. (Man boobs! Remember that Seinfeld episode?)

After all, only 20 per cent of men experience low levels of the hormone, whereas 100 per cent of women go through the menopause.

Well, they believe that many men—perhaps one in five of those over 50—should have testosterone treatment to restore their vigor and well-being. In fact, this male hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is gaining ground and, over the past decade, prescriptions for testosterone gels and injections have doubled, to 300,000 a year.

But the idea of a male menopause is the subject of passionate debate. Hormone experts insist the rising popularity of male HRT simply reflects aggressive marketing by the pharmaceutical industry.

In the U.S., where drug companies can advertise directly to the public, men spend over 2 billion a year on testosterone.

This is despite the lack of data on its long-term safety, and the fact that symptoms don’t always improve—again, according to the experts. For most men, the symptoms attributed to low testosterone and the male MANopause are actually “normal symptoms of unhealthy ageing.”

In other words, low testosterone suggests that you haven’t being looking after yourself. (I say after ordering a Dave’s Big Bacon Classic.)

According to some studies, other factors that can affect testosterone levels include depression and excessive drinking. Hmm, not guilty, and guilty.

There is also the tricky question of what level of testosterone is unhealthy.

So while lots of middle-aged men may have low testosterone, hormone specialists insist that only a fraction, perhaps two in 100, need treatment.

If you watch any of the cable news networks and talk radio (by the way, another sign in men of MANopause is listening to talk radio!) you probably have seen or heard the “Low T” spots. Seems like everyone is selling them and actually the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that testosterone products must now carry a warning about the “possible increased risk for heart attacks and stroke.”

So, your T levels rise, but you could die. Got it?

But not everyone shares these worries, some studies say there’s “no consistent evidence of an increased risk of heart problems with testosterone medication.”

So, what if you have the symptoms above? The first thing to do is check in with your family doctor. Bring it up and lay out a plan.

But for sure the experts agree, there are some things you can do to boost T levels on your own.

The best treatment for low testosterone levels is switching to a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight is the single most effective lifestyle change for boosting testosterone levels. Shedding 10 per cent of your weight with regular exercise, a healthy diet and cutting down on alcohol raises testosterone. The more weight you lose, the better your hormone recovery, he adds. You don’t need to be a hardcore gym-rat. A brisk walk every other day is all that’s needed.

Also, keep type 2 diabetes under control. Men with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from low testosterone. It’s not clear which comes first, the low testosterone or the diabetes. But some research suggests low testosterone can reduce the effectiveness of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels.

Oh, and get plenty of sleep. The more you sleep, the more testosterone your body produces. Research shows that severe sleep deprivation can cause testosterone levels to drop by 70 per cent.

Bottom line you’re not less manly if you think you’re suffering from low T. Make that appointment with your doctor today.

In the meantime, I gotta go. Damn neighborhood kids are on my lawn again!

Cheers!

Buch

For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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