Men’s Guide to Naturally Balanced Hormones

Father and son standing in nature
November 18, 2014 (Updated: May 13, 2015)
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.

Guys, you’ve probably seen the testosterone ads on television…you know, the ones that promise a whole new life from a one-size-fits-all gel, patch, or injection.

The ads got one thing right: It’s true that low levels of testosterone can affect your health, and by that I don’t just mean erectile dysfunction (ED).

Low testosterone is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and faster aging.

But testosterone is not the only hormone in your body. And if one of these substances is low, the others may need support, too. That’s why the best solution to the “low-T” problem begins with a comprehensive hormone test.

Raising your testosterone levels while ignoring all the other hormones is like putting air in one tire when all four are flat. In other words, it may make a little difference, but in the end, it’s not a great solution.

That’s why I recommend hormone testing for ALL my male patients, no matter their age. These are the symptoms to watch out for:

  • Feeling tired or having no energy
  • Irritability, impatience, bad mood
  • Muscle loss
  • Feeling weak
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Depression or feelings of inadequacy
  • Mid-afternoon energy slump
  • Lack of ambition or drive
  • Less interest in sex and problems with performance, such as erectile dysfunction
  • Sleep problems
  • Osteopenia or osteoporosis

It’s a sad fact of life today that symptoms of low testosterone are almost as common in younger men as in those who are middle-aged or older. There’s a long list of reasons why hormones are in short supply these days, but these three are most common:

  • Eating a diet low in essential nutrients
  • Medications (especially pain-relievers), sleeping pills, and steroids
  • Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates in plastics, food, and water

Now I’ve written quite a bit about a healthy diet and the side effects of common pharmaceutical drugs, as well as healthier substitutes for prescription medications. And you can detox from endocrine-disrupting chemicals with a liver cleanse.

Is it worth your time and trouble to fix these problems? Absolutely! Here’s how you get started.

The best way to determine if you actually have low T or another condition is with a simple blood panel that measures levels of various hormones.

For example, testosterone levels below 400 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) usually qualify as low for men. But please don’t stop with testosterone. Here is a list of other hormones that also need to be considered.

  • DHEA
  • Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
  • Estradiol
  • Pregnenolone
  • Progesterone

Levels of DHEA, short for dehydroepiandrosterone, vary by age. A 55-year-old man, for example, should have DHEA levels between 150 and 300 ng/dL, while a 75-year-old male’s should be between 80 and 175 ng/dL.

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Proper levels of DHEA are important because this hormone produces other hormones and helps prevent depression and erectile dysfunction, among other things.

About 10 percent of your body’s testosterone is converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a stronger, souped up version of the standard hormone.

DHT plays a big role in the prostate, where it’s linked to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), as well as in hair loss and male pattern baldness. DHT interferes with your hair follicles’ ability to absorb nutrients. Eventually, weakened hair stops growing, and becomes sparser, finally turning into peach fuzz.

DHT test scores between 30 and 85 ng/dL are considered a healthy range.

Even though estradiol is a form of estrogen, men need this hormone in small amounts, too. It’s involved in memory and mood maintenance, and protects against heart disease, too. For men, levels between 10 and 30 ng/dL are ideal.

Pregnenolone boosts your immune system, eases stress, combats fatigue, and keeps memory sharp. It’s used to create other hormones, to treat prostate problems, too. Blood levels around 100 ng/dL are best.

Progesterone is usually grouped in the “hormones for women” category, but men need it, too. Progesterone plays a role in your central nervous system activities, as well as your brain.

It also helps balance estrogen levels, which tend to rise in men as they age. You don’t need much progesterone—less than 1 ng/mL should do the trick.

Make an appointment with your doctor for a blood test to check your hormone levels. If your physician does not prescribe bio-identical (plant-based) hormones that are better matches for your own than synthetics, I strongly urge you to find one who does.

A prescription for a custom blend of balanced hormones, based on your individual needs, is the first step in correcting the situation.

You’ll need to take the prescription to a compounding pharmacy. But the end result will be a fix for your situation, tailored to your exact needs.

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