Changes in the levels and balance of hormones occurs in both men and women throughout life – these changes are a normal part of the aging process. Their symptoms differ, however, and unlike women, for whom menopause comes on suddenly and with noticeable changes, men tend to experience these changes more gradually. Aging isn’t the only reason hormones can become imbalanced, however; conditions such as adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism can also be responsible.
So if hormonal fluctuations are so gradual, how can you tell when they’re occurring? There are certain symptoms that indicate that hormone levels have changed: erectile dysfunction is a common indicator, as is a decreased sex drive. Both may be attributable to raised levels of prolactin and lowered levels of testosterone. The affects of these symptoms are both physical and mental.
Testosterone also contributes to the increased muscle mass in men as opposed to women, so when there’s an insufficient amount, men may experience muscle loss or weakness; it may come with a corresponding gain in body fat. Because testosterone fuels hair growth, especially on the face, hair loss can also indicate a decrease in the hormone.
In some cases, men experience gynocomastia, or the development of breasts. Men naturally produce both testosterone and estrogen, but when the amount of estrogen outstrips the amount of testosterone, it can cause enlargement in the breasts.
Some of the symptoms of male hormone imbalance are very similar to those that women experience during menopause: hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. These may be attributable to other life factors or simple aging, which can delay some people from seeking treatment.
In younger men, infertility may be the result of an improper balance in the hormones responsible for creating sperm – they may have a low count or be of poor quality, which leads to difficulty producing children.
Because many of the signs of male hormone imbalance can be attributed to other conditions, consult a doctor for appropriate testing.
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