Although most of the patients I deal with are female, there are also many men who deal with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions. And of course I personally battled with Graves’ Disease before following a natural treatment protocol. Just as is the case with women, many men also have a hormone imbalance which needs to be addressed. Because of this I thought it would be beneficial to dedicate a post which discusses the male hormone pathway, and how to detect and correct a hormone imbalance.
Here are some of the symptoms which can result due to an imbalance of the male steroid hormones:
- Low mood
- Loss of energy
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Blood sugar issues
- Weight gain
- Sleep issues
- Prostate problems
A Basic Breakdown Of The Androgen Pathway:
The pathway which forms the male hormones is actually very similar to the female pathway. It all begins with cholesterol, which is then converted into pregnenolone, and from this point it divides into two separate pathways. One potential pathway is for the pregnenolone to be converted into progesterone, which in turn will convert into the adrenal hormones, aldosterone and cortisol.
Pregnenolone also converts into DHEA, which in turn gets converted into the male steroid hormone, androstenedione, which in turn gets converted into testosterone. Testosterone in turn can convert into either DHT or estradiol. Different enzymes are involved in the conversion process, as 5-alpha reductase is involved in the conversion of testosterone to DHT, while aromatase is involved in the conversion of testosterone to estradiol, as well as androstenedione into estrone.
Hopefully this will give you a better understanding as to why a hormone imbalance may take place. For example, if someone has low testosterone levels, bioidentical tesosterone is commonly recommended as the solution. However, since DHEA is a precursor to testosterone, then if one has low DHEA levels then this very well can be the underlying cause of the low testosterone problem. So in this case bioidentical DHEA should be taken, right? Well, not necessarily, as it depends on how low the DHEA is. Plus, an herb such as Tribulus might be able to raise the DHEA levels, which in turn can help raise the low testosterone levels. Either way, the goal in this case should be to find out why the DHEA levels were low, as this is usually due to chronic stress over a prolonged period of time. Of course not every case of low testosterone is caused by low DHEA levels, but the point I wanted to make is that most medical doctors don’t look at the whole picture.
So what’s so bad about taking biodentical testosterone in the above scenario? Well, besides not addressing the underlying cause of the problem, an excess of testosterone will convert to estradiol, which can lead to the condition known as estrogen dominance. Some medical doctors are aware of this and thus will also recommend an aromatase inhibitor so that this conversion can’t take place. But besides the potential side effects of these inhibitors, they once again don’t address the cause of the low testosterone.
Prostate Problems Can Be Caused By A Hormone Imbalance
Many of the prostate problems men have are also caused by an imbalance of the steroid hormones. This isn’t always the case, but for someone with BPH or another prostate issue, not at least looking at the hormones is ludicrous. And once again, just looking at testosterone isn’t enough, as since the hormones interact with one another it really is important to get a complete picture.
How To Detect A Male Hormone Imbalance:
In addition to the symptoms a male patient may be experiencing, here are some of the tests which can help determine whether someone has a hormone imbalance:
1. Male Hormone Panel. If you have been following my posts for awhile then you probably know I recommend the company Diagnos-Techs for hormone testing. They have an expanded male hormone panel which will show the levels of DHEA, androstenedione, testosterone, DHT, progesterone, estrone, and estradiol. The expanded version of the panel (which is the one I recommend) includes FSH and LH. The reason why you want to look at these hormones is because these hormones stimulate and regulate the formation of sperm (FSH) and testosterone production (LH).
2. Hair Mineral Analysis. Although this test doesn’t directly measure the hormones, an imbalance in certain minerals can reveal a hormone imbalance. For example, an imbalance in the ratios of zinc and copper can mean that the person has an imbalance in the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This test can also give adrenal, thyroid, and blood sugar indicators.
3. Cholesterol levels. Since cholesterol is a precursor to all of the hormones, it of course is important that people have a sufficient amount of it. Most people are concerned about their cholesterol levels being too high, but it also can cause problems if these levels are too low.
Correcting A Hormone Imbalance
So once a hormone imbalance is detected, how can one correct this problem? Well, it depends on what type of hormone imbalance is taking place, and what the cause is. For example, if the imbalance is due to misfiring of the pituitary hormones FSH and LH, then one needs to provide support to the HP-Axis in order to correct this problem. If the problem is low DHEA due to a prolonged stress response, then of course one needs to modify the stress response, and may need to give adrenal support to raise the DHEA levels. Sometimes a purification program can help with a hormone imbalance as well.
So I hope that all of the men reading this have a better understanding behind the physiology of the hormones. It’s definitely a complex system, and it’s important to realize that giving bioidentical hormones can help at times, but this isn’t the solution for every hormone imbalance, as sometimes natural hormones can do more harm than good at times.