What man doesn’t tend to run for the hills when they find out that the lady in their life is crediting hormones for their off-kilter behavior? Women are often seen as synonymous with hormonal imbalances; however men are just as likely to experience symptoms of a system thrown off its normal track. We just aren’t usually aware of it.
Just like our female counterparts, a male’s body consists of thousands of the same hormones. What separates men from women is the levels of these particular hormones within the system, namely testosterone and estrogen. When a human has higher levels of testosterone as compared to estrogen, they develop the characteristics of a male, and vice versa for females.
We are going to look into hormonal balances in men, the symptoms, and what causes them. However, in order to get a clear understanding how to handle these imbalances, we need to get a better grasp as to what hormones are in the first place.
What Are Hormones?
We hear a lot about hormones and have a tendency to take for granted that our body has them. Not many can define the clear functions of these hormones or how they affect our day-to-day lives. This is where we come in.
What makes hormones such an integral part of our system is that they work as chemical messengers from within our own body. Hormones control many of our major bodily functions that range from mood to sexual reproductions to hunger. These pivotal messengers are regulated and secreted through a part of the body known as the endocrine system.
Majority of hormones are created in the following glands within the endocrine system:
- Adrenal- Produces hormones that control the stress and sex drive.
- Hypothalamus – Controls homeostasis within the body. Regulates body temperature, mood, and hunger.
- Ovaries – These are only in women. They secrete reproductive hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
- Pancreas – Creates insulin as a way to control the body’s levels of blood sugar.
- Parathyroid – In charge of calcium levels throughout the body.
- Pineal – Oversees the circadian rhythm of the body by secreting melatonin at night to prepare the body for sleep.
- Pituitary – Dubbed the “Master Control Gland for its ability to control the other glands. In fact, the pituitary gland can even make the hormones that facilitate growth.
- Testes – Much like the ovaries, this is where the male hormones are produced, mainly testosterone and of course, sperm.
- Thymus – Produces T-cells and regulates the adaptation of the immune system.
- Thyroid – Secretes hormones associated with exercise such as heart rate and burning calories.
How We Create an Imbalance
Hormones work like a well-oiled machine. When you are young and growing, everything works autonomously. Boys become men as more testosterone is produced. In return, hair starts to grow under the arms and in the pubic region. You begin to put on excess weight and are able to pack on more muscle. Erections become more frequent and your sex drive is through the roof.
Life is great.
However, as we age our body does as well. The hair that was once so plentiful begins to thin or recede. Love handles start to form, maybe even some man-boobage. From there, it’s all downhill as it becomes hard to achieve an erection let alone maintain one.
A once great life suddenly becomes depressing.
The reason for these problems may be a combination of numerous reasons that trigger one main one—your hormones have become imbalanced.
Hormonal imbalances stem from many factors. It may be a side effect to medications. Perhaps, it’s too much stress in your everyday life. Maybe it’s your diet. Whatever it may be, hormonal imbalances set off a chain reaction of events that is affecting your once well-oiled machine.
Cortisol – The Silent Hormone Killer
The point of hormones is to keep one another in check, much like the checks-and-balances of government. When everything is working in unison harmoniously, it creates a state of homeostasis. However, when testosterone levels deplete due to medication, diet, or stress, other hormones begin to take control.
For one, estrogen begins to outnumber testosterone. This leads to the hair falling out, the impotency, and the weight gain. In turn, you become stressed. In times of stress, the adrenal glands start pumping out a hormone called, cortisol.
As studies have shown, cortisol impedes on the production of testosterone. The reason for this is that this stress hormone incites your “fight-or-flight” instinct. For instance, when estrogen levels caused bouts of impotency during a sexual encounter, it caused stress. Once this starts happening more regularly, your mind correlates sex with stress. Therefore you continue to have trouble with erections, which in turn causes you not to ejaculate, and results in less testosterone production.
So how do you know if your hormones are imbalanced? Here are 6 full-proof symptoms:
- Weight Gain
How men and women distribute weight is completely different. A woman’s body is designed to bear a child. Therefore when they gain weight, the body starts building up around the gut to create insulation for an upcoming baby. This is what happens when there is more estrogen in the body than testosterone. As studies have found, obesity is linked to low levels of testosterone.
- Low Libido
Decreased sex drives could be a combination of many red flags within your system. As brought to light in a Harvard publication, erectile dysfunction (ED)/low libido may be a symptom of heart disease. The way that we obtain an erection is through blood flow to the penis. However, with a lifetime diet of fried foods, processed foods, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners (you get the point), our arteries begin to thicken over time. Therefore, blood cannot get into the corpus cavernosum, where the erection is then achieved.
A second major cause for low libido is all in the head. As oxygenated blood cannot flow freely to the penis, it may not also reach the brain. Instead, our old friend cortisol begins to reign supreme. This causes us to feel stressed about sex and not want to partake in the joyous activity.
- Brain Fog and Fatigue
Remember the whole blood not getting to the brain thing? Brain fog and fatigue are all results of cortisol running amok within the system. The anxiousness caused by the stress-producing hormone leads to lack of sleep. As studies have found, excessive cortisol can cause a bout of insomnia, which in turn also creates more cortisol.
Facing our own mortality as we get older is hard enough. However, losing all the things that make us a man in the first place can be outright soul-crushing. Not taking pleasure in sex, gaining weight, and losing our hair alone is enough to bring about bouts of extreme sadness. However all of these happening around the same time can easily bring on a case of depression.
You may have already figured, cortisol feeds off of this kind of stress. As studies have shown, clinically-diagnosed depressed subjects have increased levels of cortisol than their non-depressed counterparts.
- Loss of Muscle Mass
As we alluded to earlier, weight gain is seemingly inevitable for anyone fighting a hormonal imbalance. It would only make sense that if there is more fat that needs to be stored on the body, then there will be less muscle mass in its wake.
The finger can be pointed here at the levels of estrogen within the body as compared to testosterone. Studies have shown that elevated levels of estrogen lead to higher fat intake. The reason for this is when the body senses an overabundance of estrogen; it begins to prepare the womb for insulation. This will deplete muscle mass in favor of storing fat.
- Enlarged Breasts
Just as your body is preparing for a womb when you have high levels of estrogen, it’s also preparing to feed. This condition is called gynecomastia. It’s less affectionately known as “man-boobs.”
As explained in this study’s abstract, “Gynecomastia, defined as benign proliferation of male breast glandular tissue, is usually caused by increased estrogen activity, decreased testosterone activity, or the use of numerous medications.”
Why Live with a Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormonal imbalances may seem inevitable because they tend to happen as a result of the aging process. However, that is not necessarily the case. Being proactive with your health is the first step in reclaiming hormonal harmony. If you are starting to notice early bouts of what you perceive as a hormonal imbalance, listen to your gut instinct.
From there, begin to make some changes in your life. Look at your diet. Think about exercise. Starting with some tweaks to your day-to-day routines can have a lasting impact.
Keep an eye out for symptoms. Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Take a look in the mirror. Have you started to lose some muscle mass?
- Instead of where you had a toned figure, do you see more belly fat and a growing case of man-boobs?
- How is life in the bedroom?
- Has erectile dysfunction caused for a lower libido?
- Has this triggered a case of depression that has caused insomnia and brain fog?
If any of the following symptoms have started to impact your life, do not hesitate to contact a physician. There is no need to live out the rest of your life missing out on the joys of what made you a man to begin with.