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The Surprising Things That Happen When Men’s Hormones Are Imbalanced

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Speaking ahead of the Celebrating Strengths – Mens Retreat, Melissa Day, Integrative and Preventative Medicine Practitioner, explains that men, like women, experience hormonal cycles, as we all have the same hormones which function the same way.

The differences that we see between men and women occur because of the amount, the pattern or the way the hormone interacts with male and female bodies. Albeit not as obvious as the female cycle, there is much evidence from endocrinologists that hormones play a pivotal role in men’s day-to-day and monthly cycles, affecting everything from sleep to sex to stress.

The endocrine system controls hormones and commands body activity through the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. These glands control by sending out messages to organs like adrenal glands, thyroid, pancreas and, for men, testes. The hormones controlled by the endocrine system, in turn, control or affect key areas:

Testosterone, LH, FSH: Sex

Both men and women have testosterone (and oestrogen), just in different amounts. One key factor of male hormonal cycles is frequency. Where women are in a monthly cycle, men’s are often erratic; some fluctuate hourly, daily, monthly or even over a period of years.

However, there is some regularity with men’s testosterone levels, tending to rise throughout the night, peak first thing in the morning and level off by lunchtime. Studies reveal seasonal variations in men’s testosterone cycles. 

Research also indicates that environmental factors in childhood can influence testosterone levels: in challenging environments with vulnerability to infectious disease or insufficient nutrition, developing males’ direct energy towards “survival” at the sacrifice of testosterone. They will likely have lower testosterone levels later than those who spent their childhood in healthier environments.

Men with higher testosterone levels have an increased possibility of negative implications from the hormone. Research shows that unusually high levels raise the risk of prostate disease.

Abnormally low testosterone levels in men can cause fatigue, erectile dysfunction and reduced sex drive. The release of daily testosterone in men mainly occurs during sleep. Interrupted sleep patterns and obstructive sleep apnea correlate to reduced testosterone levels.

Infertility

Research shows that women’s “combined oral contraceptive pill”, which provides artificial versions of female hormones produced naturally in the ovaries – progesterone and oestrogen – influences male fertility. How?

When women ingest the contraceptive pill and urinate, this goes into the water systems and both women and men are then exposed to the hormones. This results in men drinking artificial female hormones specifically intended to “trick the female body” into thinking it’s pregnant. Currently, infertility rates are increasing.

Cortisol and epinephrine: Stress

Although a little stress is fine, too much stress can raise the cortisol level and put your body on high alert. This consistent elevation affects the metabolic system and tells your body to store fat as an emergency response. The term “adrenal fatigue” is where the adrenals have become overburdened by an increased cortisol release and cannot produce cortisol levels for optimal bodily function.

Adrenal depletion may cause some symptoms: lack of clarity of mind, feelings of lethargy, low mood and cravings for sweets or salt. To try and balance this out, do relaxing activities such as meditation, exercise a little more, and drink plenty of alkaline or spring water. This may not get rid of the stress-inducing factor, but it will go some way to encourage your body to lower cortisol levels.

Leptin, CCK, insulin and grehlin: Weight

The hormone ghrelin tells neurons in your hypothalamus to make you feel hungry and prompt you to eat. Ingestion of food releases CCK and leptin, the hormones for suppressing appetite, making you feel full.

Leptin resistance, however, can develop over time, and there are three primary factors: eating the wrong foods, excess stress and not enough sleep. Although in the correct amount, leptin is a suppressant, when disrupted, leptin resistance tells the body to send out hunger signals – meaning more is eaten, and you put on weight. To reverse this, proactively apply substantial lifestyle and diet changes.

For example, find sugar alternatives such as raw organic honey. For a more balanced diet, try upping the number of vegetables and low-GI fruits, such as blueberries and raspberries and reduce carbohydrates. Variate forms of exercise in your daily routine and try different forms of breathwork to help combat stress. This will encourage weight loss and benefit your whole body, including your skin.

Thyroid: Energy

The thyroid gland controls your metabolism and your metabolism, controlling how your body converts calories into energy.

We all know how important “having energy” is. A huge array of products, lifestyle choices and exercises out there are said to increase energy levels. While it’s entirely possible that what you eat, what you do or don’t do and environmental factors can affect energy, there is also the possibility that disruption of your thyroid could be the culprit for low energy levels.

An underactive thyroid, called hypothyroidism, where there is low production of thyroid hormones, causes fatigue, weight gain, and feelings of depression.

You can also have an overreactive thyroid gland, called hyperthyroidism, with a high production of thyroid hormones. This abnormally expediates the body’s metabolism. Symptoms may include unusual weight loss, irregular or rapid heartbeat and tremoring of the hands.

If you do suffer from low energy, which isn’t medical, one way to address this is by looking after the next hormone, melatonin–which regulates sleep.

Melatonin: Sleep

Controlled by your pineal gland, melatonin is secreted once the sun goes down and you are in darkness. Melatonin regulates the circadian rhythm, your body’s personal 24–hour rhythm, which tells you when to sleep and wake.

Melatonin production is at its highest in the middle of the night and can be disrupted by low levels of artificial light. For healthy sleep, it is best to have the room in complete darkness and at a relatively low temperature. Many people find that going to sleep at a similar time and sleeping for seven to nine hours per night allows for the most restful sleep. Good quality sleep will help with energy levels the following day.

Melissa’s tips

Swap

Although too much salt is not recommended, our bodies require it. Therefore, why not swap table salt for Himalayan Pink Salt? It’s nourishing and contains 84 other minerals and trace elements – but it also helps regulate hormones. 

Check vitamin D

Vitamin D is probably the most important nutrient to ensure an abundance in your body if you want to make effective hormones. It is central to DNA activation for protein manufacture in all cell types. You can have a “blood-spot test” by post from an NHS laboratory to check your vitamin D. (They do not interpret the test or give action steps – you’d require additional advice to respond to the test result).

Conclusion

The complicated endocrine system is designed to support our body’s everyday needs, whether male or female. Just like the rest of your body, your hormones can be looked after by looking after the areas that can be affected. Helpful starting points are eating well, practising relaxation techniques, exercising regularly and drinking plenty of water – your hormones will thank you.

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