Even though most adults, and I’ll go ahead and say men in particular, don’t like talking about hormones, the reality is that they play a critical role in our lives, and have done since day one. They are the silent driving force behind how our bodies work, chemically influencing everything from growth and development, to how our bodies process food and produce energy, to our appetites and attractions (little wonder we call it chemistry, right?)
Bottom line, our hormones ensure that everything works just as perfectly as it ought to. The body’s hormonal balance is also very delicate. Any slight imbalance and your body will suddenly start feeling out of sorts.
This is why during the teenage years, most people can go from being energetic and animated to dull and sullen within minutes. Thankfully, with age, these levels normalize, resulting in the relatively “peaceful” years between the early 20’s and 40’s. After that, your hormonal levels start changing again. Briefly, we’ll take a look at the hows and whys.
Hormones, Women, and Growing Older
The hormones estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone are very important and play a very big role in a woman’s reproductive cycle. Among its many other functions, the estrogen hormone thickens the uterine walls in women in preparation for egg implantation and fertilization.
Testosterone also plays an important role in women’s cycle every month: it is responsible for libido, energy, and mood. Progesterone helps control women’s menstrual cycle and aids pregnancy by preparing the lining of the uterus. A lack or overabundance of testosterone can affect a woman’s sexuality just as much as it can a man’s.
Now, these three tend to be in abundance from early adulthood to the peri-menopause years. But these levels decrease once women start approaching menopause.
This is why during the menopausal and postmenopausal years, most women experience irregular menses, hot flashes, sudden mood swings, irritability, vaginal dryness, low sexual libido, and fatigue.
Women who experience these can be very uncomfortable and will often complain that their bodies somehow feel alien to them. But with this sense of self-alienation also comes added risk of losing bone mass or developing osteoporosis, as the rate of production and resorption of bone tissue is disrupted by changes in the hormones controlling those functions. It has also been found that there is an increased risk of endometrial and breast cancers from hormonal imbalances.
Hormones, Men, and Growing Older
Many hormones play prominent roles in men’s lives. But of particular importance and relevance to this article is the hormone testosterone. Testosterone is partially responsible for men’s energy levels, sex drive, physical well-being and sexual performance.
This is why between the ages of 20 and 45, most men seem to experience considerable sexual appetites, superb energy levels and enjoy incredible health, doubly so if they take care of themselves.
However, after these years of running on abundant hormones, testosterone levels begin to drop, resulting in decreased libido, inability to sustain an erection, lower energy, and weight gain or weight loss. Men who suffer from low testosterone may not often know the cause for their general malaise until they are diagnosed and referred to a clinic like Body Concepts for treatment.
What is the Solution to Age-Associated Hormonal Imbalance?
There are multiple solutions to hormonal imbalance for both sexes. For women with mild to severe menopause symptoms, hormone replacement therapies may be beneficial, or even necessary. This will usually be in the form of estrogen and progesterone therapy (EPT) for women who still have their uterus.
Women who have undergone a hysterectomy and are experiencing surgical menopause might be better off with just estrogen therapy (ET). These will help reduce the symptoms of menopause and restore hormonal balance.
As for men suffering from low testosterone (Low T), testosterone treatments can help drive up their testosterone levels and restore hormonal balance. But for both sexes, however, exercise and healthy lifestyle habits also play a crucial role.