One of the ways that medical science gets its greatest insights on human behavior is by observing other animals. This was demonstrated recently at Johns Hopkins, where a research study on the effects of testosterone therapy on canaries was conducted. The results are intriguing, and may impact the view we take on testosterone replacement therapy in the future.
Mating Behavior in Songbirds
The study began with a premise that testosterone levels in these songbirds were somehow connected to the singing component of their springtime courtship ritual. Without a song that shows sufficient complexity, the female canaries simply aren’t interested in what the male canaries have to offer.
Researchers divided the male canaries into two groups: one group received testosterone injections directly to the medial preoptic nerve (PON), while the other group had testosterone applied to the entire brain. After treatment, both groups sang a greater number of songs. However, the songs were of lower quality in those birds that received the PON injection.
The Importance of a Whole-Body Approach
The PON controls sex drive in human men as well as male birds, but the study results indicate that testosterone affects much more of the brain than just one localized area. This data once again drives home the point that testosterone replacement therapy must be taken in context as part of whole-body health rather than maintaining a myopic focus on sex drive alone. No hormone, including testosterone, exists in a vacuum. Rather, it’s the balance among all the systems of the body that lead to peak functionality, including sex drive as well as other aspects.
As men and women grow increasingly interested in the advances of anti-aging medicine and hormone therapy, it can be challenging to find an excellent doctor. Here are a few qualities you should look for in a provider who can help you get your health back on track.
1. They Have a Supportive Attitude
The number one quality shared among excellent bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) doctors is a supportive attitude that focuses on helping you reach your optimum health. They should be understanding and appreciative that choosing to start hormone therapy can be a major step, and they should be evaluating your individual heal. Look for a doctor who is supportive of you and your goals first and foremost.
2. They Know Their BHRT
Your doctor should be very knowledgeable about bioidentical vs. synthetic hormones and the pros and cons of each approach. This includes being up to date on any recent data or studies, as well being prepared to answer any questions you may have about BHRT. There is a lot of available information out there about hormone replacement, and the right doctor will be happy to disseminate any information in order to ensure that you feel comfortable about proceeding with your treatment.
3. They Make Individualized Care Top Priority
Finally, the best bioidentical hormone therapy doctors should be very involved with your treatment. BHRT is not a “prescribe it and forget it” approach by any means. Doses should be tailored to your individual needs, which are determined by regular testing of your hormone levels. Ongoing care and support is a must when undergoing BHRT with a skilled and experienced doctor.
In the world of anti-aging medicine, it seems that new developments arise faster than any of us can keep up with. One of the most recent of these is the concept of processing medical marijuana in such a way that the antioxidant properties found in cannabinoids are maximized.
Medical marijuana may be prescribed to treat health conditions such as glaucoma, or to minimize the side effects of aggressive medical treatments, such as nausea related to chemotherapy treatments. Hemp—the industrialized form of marijuana—is not an uncommon ingredient in beauty products. However, the concept of distilling the antioxidant properties of hemp to specifically target the aging process is a new one. Formulated into a number of external applications, such as facial cleansers, serums and night creams, hemp provides the active ingredient in the HempMedsPX new line of anti-aging products.
Internal vs. External Aging
Medical science has yet to endorse any over-the-counter product as an effective solution for reducing the visible signs of age. In fact, when it comes to aging, most physicians focus instead on the bigger picture rather than just appearances. Major physiological changes such as fatigue, concentration problems and weight gain may be connected to age-related hormone imbalance. These concerns carry far more impact on daily quality of life than the condition of a person’s skin.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy offers a whole-body approach to fighting the aging process and helping you feel more like yourself again. With hormones back in proper alignment for more effective use by the body, men and women can more fully realize improved health where it matters the most: on the inside.
Although attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is primarily thought of as a problem for kids, adults can also be diagnosed with ADHD. For a number of reasons, this condition may be easily missed by doctor and patient alike; in some cases, the ADHD diagnosis itself may be incorrect, as many of the symptoms could actually be caused by a different health concern such as Low T.
1. You Have Mood Swings
Mood swings are very common in those who are diagnosed with ADHD, but they’re also a hallmark of reduced testosterone levels. These can include moving rapidly from feeling positive to negative and back again, being quick to feel irritated by minor issues or just feeling like you’re not as emotionally steady as usual.
2. You Have Problems with Concentration and Focus
Of course it’s normal for everyone to have trouble staying focused once in a while, but persistent brain fog and inability to concentrate can be a sign that something else is going on. Some doctors may conclude that the “something else” is ADHD, but an underlying testosterone imbalance could be to blame instead.
3. Your ADHD Medication Isn’t Helping
There’s no blood test to definitively determine the presence of ADHD; diagnosis is made based on reported symptoms, the doctor’s observation and perhaps a written test. If you initially visited your doctor out of concern over memory lapses and mood swings, it’s not unusual for that doctor to assume that you have ADHD and write a prescription. When your symptoms are caused by low testosterone levels rather than ADHD, though, ADHD medications aren’t going to make much of an improvement.
Conversely, some patients who have been struggling with ADHD ineffectively for years find that testosterone therapy makes a huge improvement in their quality of life…indicating that the problem was never ADHD at all.
A drop in libido is often blamed on a hormone imbalance like low testosterone. Yet, reduced testosterone isn’t the only culprit when it comes to your sex drive. Before considering testosterone therapy because you haven’t been feeling in the mood lately, first take a look at some of these other common reasons for a missing sex drive.
Obesity can cause a number of problems in the body, including serious health conditions as well as a number of peripheral issues. Low libido is one of these. While not all overweight men have problems with their sex drive, sexual dysfunction is more commonly seen in combination with obesity compared to men who are at a healthy weight. This is because the higher amount of body fat directly impacts testosterone production. Losing weight and pursuing bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can be a winning combination to get your love life back on track.
Drug Use & Alcoholism
Excessive alcohol consumption, the use of certain recreational drugs and even the abuse of some prescription medications can all affect your libido. Cutting back on unhealthy habits is one simple way that men can regain their sexual energy, as well as naturally increase testosterone levels.
Most men have experienced the negative effects that too much stress can have on their sexual performance. Underlying psychological issues such as depression also play a major role in sexual health. Relationship problems, childhood issues (especially related to sexual abuse) and even exhaustion can all contribute to a lagging libido.
Feeling like you’re not in the mood once in a while is totally normal. However, a persistent problem with your sex drive or capability may indicate a more serious health concern. If that’s the case, definitely make an appointment with your doctor.
It seems to be human nature to lean toward excess as a good thing. If a little exercise is good, then running a marathon every weekend must be better. If eating vegetables is beneficial, then juicing everything in sight must be the key to optimum health. In reality, more often than not, moderation is better than “more.” New research indicates this is the case in testosterone replacement therapy as well.
Benefits of Optimum Testosterone Levels
A recent study from Australia indicates that patients who had high testosterone levels did not show any health benefits compared to those with mid-range testosterone levels. Men with testosterone in the mid-level range also had the lowest morbidity rates, regardless of specific cause.
This data only confirms the philosophy that the best bioidentical hormone therapy doctors already embrace with their own patients: as with so many other things, moderation can yield the best results for men with Low T.
Taking a Customized Approach to Treatment
While there’s no denying that Low T can cause a number of symptoms that can dramatically lower men’s overall quality of life, spiking testosterone up to an unnaturally high level isn’t the solution and should never be the goal of testosterone replacement therapy. Nor should hormone replacement therapy ever be approached as a one-size-fits-all treatment that’s right for every man. Instead, the focus should be maintained on defining the optimum level of testosterone for the individual patient, as determined by meticulous follow-up testing and patient feedback throughout the treatment period.
Low testosterone levels in men bring about a number of physical symptoms like reduced sex drive and decreased muscle mass. Yet, sometimes the psychological impact of testosterone imbalance is even more debilitating. What’s the best way for men to overcome the mental effects of Low T?
Your Brain on Low T
There are many ways that a testosterone imbalance can impact your brain, including your emotional health:
- Concentration Problems: A lack of mental focus is a very common symptom of Low T, and is often more pronounced in men who really need extra brain power in their daily life due to intellectually challenging or highly creative jobs.
- Mental Fatigue: A lack of motivation, sometimes seen in combination with physical fatigue, but also manifesting on its own, is another hazard of testosterone imbalance. Many men simply lack the mental energy to accomplish simple daily tasks.
- Mood Swings: Unpredictable emotions, general irritability and mood swings, especially tending toward feeling down or depressed, are typical of men with Low T. In some cases, clinical depression may be diagnosed as the problem instead of the true cause: hormone imbalance.
The joint problems of brain fog, exhaustion, mood swings and depression are all serious concerns that can add up to a dramatically decreased quality of life, particularly when looked at in context with the physical symptoms of Low T. Bioidentical hormone therapy doctors are able to develop a customized treatment plan that’s designed to bring your hormone levels back into proper alignment with each other, improving both the physical and psychological symptoms of Low T.
While “Low T” is a phrase heard most often in reference to men’s health, testosterone does play an important role for women as well. For both men and women, a balance of different hormones is essential in maintaining optimal health. Could low testosterone levels have an impact on women as well as in men, and should women’s hormone replacement therapy address this concern?
How Does Testosterone Affect Women?
Although present in much lower amounts, testosterone levels do impact how women’s bodies feel and function. Several aspects of women’s health are affected by maintaining healthy testosterone production in women:
- Bone Health: Too little testosterone in women can compromise bone growth and strength, similar to lowered testosterone levels in men.
- Cognitive Function: Changes in cognition can occur in response to varying hormone levels, including testosterone, for both men and women.
- Pain Management: An imbalanced ratio of testosterone to estrogen can impact pain response in women.
- Sex Drive: A reduced sex drive in women may be associated with a dip in testosterone levels, especially after menopause.
How Treatment Helps
When it comes to hormone replacement therapy, there’s never one solution that works for every patient. Instead, an individualized approach must be taken to address each man or woman’s unique needs. For some women, this may include incorporating testosterone replacement, albeit in much smaller levels than male hormone replacement therapy. Balancing the hormones can help improve cognitive function, boost sex drive and help improve bone health and pain management when the right combination of treatments is used.
When noticing a little extra weight around the midsection, the immediate assumption is most likely “I need to eat better and work out more” rather than “My hormones must be off.” Yet, hormone imbalance may be a major contributor to challenges in losing weight and keeping it off. In fact, obesity is one of the common health risks associated with Low T. What’s the connection between weight and hormones?
Effects of Low Testosterone
The development of a “spare tire” of belly fat around the midsection is very commonly seen in middle-aged men, and, to the outside observer, may seem to simply be a normal profile of growing older. Yet, weight gain around the belly is one of the hallmarks of declining testosterone levels as well, which occurs in direct parallel within the same age bracket.
Although medical science has linked low testosterone levels with obesity in men for some time, there has always been a question as to which of these conditions should be considered the primary health concern. Since adipose tissue is known as an active hormonal modulator, it seems likely that weight gain could be the cause for low testosterone levels. Yet, more recent research on testosterone levels indicates that having reduced testosterone levels increases body fat, contributing to metabolic syndrome.
Men who undergo hormone replacement therapy see improvements in their ability to lose excess weight, in addition to alleviating the other symptoms associated with declining testosterone levels like fatigue, reduced libido and impaired cognitive function. Balanced hormones are essential for maintaining normal, healthy weight.
One of the reasons why so many men with low testosterone levels go undiagnosed for far too long is because they assume their symptoms are simply a normal part of growing older. When they do finally seek treatment from our bioidentical hormone therapy doctors, they’re often surprised to learn that the aging process doesn’t have to make them feel that way.
Aging vs. Hormones
Aging carries with it a lot of universal symptoms for both men and women: the development of grey hair and wrinkles, switching over to bifocals and starting to feel like today’s music is just a bunch of noise. Along with these hallmarks come changes like increased fatigue, mood swings, changes in sexual function and weight gain in new places like around the belly.
Although that spare tire may seem like the universal retirement uniform, the truth is that irritability, energy loss and packing on the extra pounds isn’t necessarily a part of the standard aging process. In fact, these are more likely symptoms of low testosterone levels.
For the record, sexual dysfunction and other signs of Low T aren’t something you just have to put up with because you’re entering your next stage of life. Every man absolutely deserves full vitality at every age, and increasing your testosterone levels can help you return to full vitality again. With hormone replacement therapy, your testosterone levels can be brought back to a healthier range of normal; soon, you’ll be surprised at just how good getting older can feel.