Testosterone may be the hormone associated most with strength, but it is no match for the powerful punch of modern life. The effects of our fast-paced lives have already begun to take a toll on our health as a nation. Heart disease, stroke and cancer are the leading killers in the United States, and may point directly at lifestyle as a public enemy number one. Now we can add one more downside to living the "good life": low testosterone levels.
A recent study from Finland confirmed what Danish researched already suspected: testosterone levels in young men have dropped significantly over the past 50 years. Testosterone levels of the average 30-year old man are 20% lower than 30-year-olds from their father's generation. And with these lower testosterone levels comes an increased risk of osteoporosis. Approximately 2 million men in America are currently diagnosed with osteoporosis, which researchers agree is most likely a low estimate. Canadian data suggests that the number may be much higher, estimating that 1 out of every 8 men over the age of 50 is living with the skeletal disease.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
The above are all symptoms of low testosterone levels in men- a syndrome being termed "male menopause" or andropause. Just as women's sex hormones, progesterone and estrogen, decline with age, so do men's testosterone levels. Experts argue over the semantics of referring to a man's declining testosterone levels as a version of menopause; however the reality remains the same no matter what you call it: sexual hormone levels in both men and women decrease as we mature.
The Chemical Revolution
The worst offender when it comes to testosterone is the almighty chemical. Since World War II, tens of thousands of new chemical compounds have been created to improve our lives; yet since the beginning of this chemical revolution, we've managed to pollute the entire planet with dangerous toxins, most of which have never been tested for human safety or how they interact with one another. Of the thousands of chemicals released into our environment every year, several groups have been identified as hormone disruptors. These chemicals enter your body through the air that you breathe, the foods that you eat and the water that you drink and invade the endocrine system, mimicking and blocking vital hormonal processes.
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Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a hot topic under frequent debate these days - so much so that estrogen and other progesterone have become household words. Deciding whether or not to supplement with hormones can be challenging when it means wading through study findings that are oftentimes frightening. In order to decide which option is right for you, it's important to understand the basics of women's hormones. Synthetic hormones are no longer the only option available and it is possible to treat hormonal imbalance safely and naturally, using bio-identical hormones.
The Role of Women's Hormones
As women enter their 40's, hormone levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone begin to decline, signaling the beginning of perimenopause. Eventually the ovaries will stop producing eggs and menstruation will cease. When menstruation is no longer taking place, menopause has begun. The declining hormone levels can cause many unwelcome symptoms.
The hormones that made you fertile during your teens, 20's and 30's also protected you against age-related diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, osteoporosis, and auto-immune diseases. With lower levels of these important hormones, your body is less equipped to fend off life threatening diseases.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
In the past decade, women have discovered a new option: hormone replacement therapy. Much discussion in the news has been focused on the synthetic hormones, such as Premarin and Prempro. Studies have raised questions about the safety of using such synthetic hormones and many women are unsure of what to do. It is important to understand that synthetic hormones are not structurally identical to the hormones produced naturally within our bodies. If they were, drug manufacturers would not be able to patent them. Instead, they manufacture compounds derived from the urine of pregnant mares - a product that is structurally different from our natural human hormones. Such synthetic hormones are not processed by our bodies in the same way as natural hormones, which is why they often prove to be a dangerous option.
Natural, or bio-identical hormones are biologically and structurally identical to our own hormones, making them completely safe when used at the appropriate levels. An additional benefit to supplementing with natural hormones is that they can be customized to fit your specific needs. When prescribing bio-identical hormones to my patients, I first test their current hormone levels to determine the appropriate combination of estrogen, progesterone, and/or testosterone that they will need. Bio-identical hormones are tailor made for each individual, unlike synthetic hormones, which are sold in "one size fits all" doses.
My Healthy Recommendations
If you have not yet begun experiencing pre-menopausal symptoms, this is the best time to go see your doctor. Having your hormone levels checked now, before they begin their natural decline, will better help your doctor to determine your optimal levels when the time comes for supplementation. Being proactive will make it easier to find relief when menopause becomes reality.
A woman entering the end of her reproductive years no longer has to suffer silently through the changes caused by her declining hormones. Treating hormonal imbalance naturally, using bio-identical hormones, is a safe option that can make your menopausal and post-menopausal years some of the best years of your life. The benefits of natural hormone replacement mean that you could live a long, healthy, and fulfilling life well into your golden years.
To learn more about keeping "Natural Hormone Balance", buy a copy of my book "Be PerfectlyHealthy" by visiting: http://www.perfectlyhealthy.com/ProductDetails.aspx?ProductID=BE-Perfectly-Healthy-Book.