Testosterone, prolactin and estrogen are some of the many hormones produced in the male body. Of all of these hormones, testosterone is responsible for maintaining and expressing male features such as facial hair, body hair, sperm production and maintenance of muscles and bones. Symptoms of hormonal imbalance in men are often easily identifiable.
Low Sex Drive
Libido is a term used to describe sexual desire in both men and women. Low sex drive occurs when an individual loses all desire to be sexually active. Low levels of testosterone and high levels of prolactin— a hormone responsible for breast milk production–may cause this problem. The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library explains that about two-thirds of men who have high levels of prolactin in the bodies lose interest in sex and develop erectile dysfunction as well.
A condition in which a man is unable to maintain an erection long enough to have satisfactory sexual intercourse is referred to as erectile dysfunction. In this condition, an erection may not be attained or once established, the erection is lost during intercourse. High levels of prolactin, low levels of testosterone and an imbalance in thyroid hormone levels–hormones that determine how fast processes occur in the body–may lead to erectile dysfunction.
Key factors in optimizing male hormone function:
- Maintain ideal body weight. This is probably the most important thing a man can do. As belly fat increases, there is an increase in activity of the enzyme “aromatase” which converts testosterone in the fat cells to estrogen.
- Exercise. A combination of aerobic (increase in heart rate) and resistance (weight lifting) has been found to increase the production of testosterone. This also helps prevent the most common diseases that we will die from (heart disease and cancer).
- Have a good sleep cycle. Most of the testosterone is made during deep sleep when we are in REM (Rapid Eye Movement). A poor sleep cycle with less time spent in REM has been associated with low testosterone levels.
- Avoid tobacco products. Tobacco is said to reduce testosterone.
- Avoid excessive alcohol. Alcohol (more than two drinks a day), increases the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
- Avoid tight fitting underwear. The testicles hang away from the body to reduce the heat that can reduce sperm count and testosterone production. Wear boxers, not briefs.
- Avoid xenobiotics (hormone mimickers in the environment). Research has shown that the average testosterone level in men has gradually dropped over the years. This may be in part due to all the potential toxins in our environment that have accumulated over the years. The main ones are:
Bisphenol A (BPA) found in plastics. Don’t microwave food in plastic containers.
Phthalates. These chemicals are used in plastics, coatings, lubricants and binders.
Organophosphates. These are mainly found in pesticides and herbicides. Eat organic when able.
- Avoid excessive stress. When we research long term stress, we measure cortisol in the blood. This is a steroid hormone that when elevated can increase fat deposition which also results in more conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
- Eat well. Poor nutrition is at the root of many diseases and can also create an imbalance of male hormones.
- Foods to avoid: Excessive sugar consumption, excessive caffeine, red meat and animal fat, excessive dairy products, food dyes, processed foods.
Foods to include: Green Tea, multi-colored fruits and vegetables, nuts (particularly Brazil nuts that are rich in selenium, fiber (covered by eating fruits and vegetables), ground flax seed (1 tbsp a day).
For an appointment or consultation with Dr. Gary Bellman, please contact the office or call 818-912-1899