We tend to think about hormones as something that only affects teenagers, but these bodily chemicals do much more than send teenagers into bad moods and their bodies into awkward transitioning phases. Essentially, hormones are tiny messengers that signal our cells – they tell them what to do and exactly when to do it. Without hormones our cells, and by extent our bodies would be rendered ineffective. They affect every cell and function in our body including our sex drives.
A healthy sex drive plays a key role in our overall health, and though a decline might be a normal part of ageing it can also be a sign that something more serious is wrong. If you’re experiencing a low libido for a long period of time, it might be time to talk to your doctor.
Dr Gys du Plessis, integrative health expert and head physician at Longiva talks about the hormones that are often overlooked when it comes to our overall and sexual health, and how we are able to help patients today.
“For men, it’s often not that hormone imbalances are over-looked but that they avoid going to the doctor at all or evade talking about their libido,” he explains. Testosterone is the main sex hormone for men, it’s responsible for sexual development, building muscle and bone, regulating sex drive and performance while also controlling healthy sperm production. All in all, it’s an important hormone for men’s health.
But what happens if a man’s T levels are low? “Symptoms are often not that obvious, but they have a big impact on both the patient’s physical and mental health,” says Dr Gys.
Symptoms of low T levels are:
- Weight gain
- Low libido
- A decrease in sexual performance
- Inability to maintain muscle mass
- Loss of sleep
The imbalance is also humorously dubbed as ‘Irritable Man Syndrome’ and in many cases, it’s also simply (and wrongly) diagnosed as depression. Under or misdiagnoses are common and can, unfortunately, have far-reaching effects on a patient’s relationships, mental health and quality of life.
Causes of low T levels are:
- Ageing – testosterone levels start to decline when men turn 30 and symptoms may show up from as early as 40.
- Certain medications affect T levels.
- Injuries and illnesses could also play a role.
- Though uncommon, even a benign tumour on the pituitary gland, which helps regulate hormones, can also be the cause.
Testosterone levels can be checked with a simple blood test. No fasting is required, but early morning is the best time to make an appointment.
Lifestyle changes in diet, physical exercise and stress management techniques should be the first port of call. Testosterone replacement therapy is only indicated if T levels are below specific point. Replacement therapy can be administered by injections at intervals, or daily application of a bio-identical testosterone cream, whereby the testosterone is absorbed via the skin.
Women know a whole lot more about their hormones and how quickly it can take a situation from bad to worse. They’re confronted with these messenger chemicals on a monthly basis, and well aware of what happens when they get their signals crossed. That’s not even mentioning pregnancy or menopause which can make for a really interesting situation… and not in a fun way. Progesterone and estrogen are the main sex hormones for women, but when it comes to libido, testosterone and DHEA play the major roles. Testosterone levels, just as in men, can be tested by a simple blood test. “DHEA is a hormone mainly made in the adrenals in response to cortisol being secreted as our stress response hormone. DHEA balances out the negative effects of cortisol in the body. The suppressive role that cortisol plays in a healthy libido is often overlooked,” says the doctor.
Cortisol, one of the most important fight or flight hormones, is produced in the cortex of the adrenal glands and influences a patient’s blood sugar, metabolism, memory, blood pressure while also reducing inflammation. If a woman experiences consistent high levels of cortisol it can affect her menstrual cycle and libido and it will eventually lead to lower levels of DHEA.
Symptoms of high cortisol levels are:
- High Blood pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Low libido
- Rapid weight gain
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Brain fog
High cortisol levels are often over-looked by doctors but it’s only now that we’re beginning to understand how these hormones affect a patient’s overall and sexual health.
Causes of high cortisol levels are:
- Prolonged periods of anxiety and stress can cause cortisol levels to spike.
- Lifestyle today is the most Important factor today in the almost ‘epidemically’ high levels found when screening. Constant stress, a lack of quality sleep, bad eating habits and the fast-paced tempo of our modern world can put our adrenal glands under a lot of pressure, causing it to produce more cortisol.
- Cortisol production is controlled by the pituitary gland, hypothalamus and adrenal gland. Benign tumours, though extremely rare, in or on any of these control centers can also be the cause of spikes in cortisol.
Cortisol levels are tested at different times of the day through a blood or saliva test. By monitoring and placing the values and ratios on a graph we can accurately see whether a patient has high levels of cortisol. DHEA levels are tested in tandem with cortisol and the ration between the two will determine whether the patient will need DHEA treatment to assist in balancing the adrenals
Elevated cortisol levels are brought down by everything that brings down stress levels. Adjusting your lifestyle will be the first thing to do. This includes optimising sleep patterns, avoiding sugar and losing weight where applicable, incorporating regular exercise, avoiding excess alcohol and caffeine consumption as well as spiritual practices such as mindfulness and meditation. Supplements and adaptogens can also be taken to help stabilise the adrenals.
In the acute situation when the diagnosis of adrenal stress is made, intravenous treatment on a weekly base with combinations of vitamins and nutrients can reverse the condition much quicker and effectively.
If the DHEA levels are low or the ratio with cortisol disturbed, it can be replaced according to the specific personal levels of the patient. This hormone is made up by a compounding pharmacy according to the doctor’s prescription and taken in the morning orally.
If the testosterone levels are found wanting, bio-identical hormones could also be given in a cream applied to the skin on a daily base.
At Longiva Healthy Ageing Institute we offer Intravenous Nutrient Therapy as a complementary treatment to our integrative approach to addressing imbalances and illnesses. If you’re not feeling the love this February, we can help reinvigorate your wellbeing and libido with our REINVIGORATE IV Treatment. This drip contains a powerful elixir of essential nutrients and vitamins that will rejuvenate your mind, body and relationship. REINVIGORATE is ideal for both men and women that struggle with a low libido as it’s formulated with essential B vitamins that improve overall circulation, boost testosterone production in men and help balance cortisol levels in women.
This month we’re offering the REINVIGORATE IV Treatment for ONLY R900. (Normally priced at R1150)
*The REINVIGORATE IV Treatment offer is only available until 28 February 2019. T&C Apply.
Please contact us today to avoid disappointment or to book a consultation with one of our doctors. for a complete medical workup and consultation.
At Longiva Healthy Ageing Institute we approach health holistically and our treatment plans are designed according to each patient’s individual needs and requirements.
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