Your Hormones in Your 50s and Beyond

The fabulous 50s! Those liberating and occasionally turbulent years when most women experience menopause and more men develop symptoms of low testosterone. Hormone imbalance becomes more common as we age, but we’ve got some good news! Safe and effective treatments are available for women and men who want to live their best lives in their 50s and beyond—and balanced hormones play a key role.

If you’re experiencing the symptoms of menopause or low testosterone (details below), you don’t need to sit back and accept the discomfort, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, depression, physical decline, lower quality of life and other symptoms that accompany hormone imbalance in your 50s. A healthcare practitioner experienced in treating hormone imbalance can review options including hormone replacement therapy (HRT), nutraceuticals, peptide therapy, diet and exercise plans and other integrative therapies.

Men 50+ who have symptoms of low testosterone should get androgen levels checked

If you’re in your 50s and not feeling like yourself, it’s important to discuss your concerns with a healthcare practitioner. Testosterone levels gradually decline with age (about 1-2% annually after age 30), which means the older you get, the more likely you are to experience symptoms of low androgen (male sex hormone) levels.

According to research published in the journal Translational Andrology and Urology (TAU), the prevalence of testosterone deficiency rises abruptly in men ages 45-50 years. Prevalence continues to increase with age, ranging from 12% among men in their 50s to 49% for men in their 80s.

  • Common symptoms of low testosterone include:
  • Reduced libido/erectile dysfunction
  • Reduced muscle mass and strength
  • Increased adiposity (body fat)
  • Osteoporosis/low bone mass
  • Depressed mood
  • Fatigue, low energy

Keep in mind, these symptoms can also be associated with other health conditions and disease states, so it’s important to undergo thorough testing to determine the root cause of your symptoms. We recommend seeing a practitioner who is trained in functional and integrative medicine, which focuses on treating and healing the root cause of disease, not just masking symptoms.

I’m a 50-year-old male. Should I automatically get tested for Low T?

Many traditional Western medical practitioners won’t recommend testing testosterone levels unless a patient presents with symptoms of Low T (hypogonadism). Since testosterone levels gradually decline with age and some men with low testosterone are asymptomatic, speaking with your practitioner about the risks of Low T is a good idea if you are age 50 and above.

The prevalence of low testosterone also rises dramatically in men who have comorbidities for Low T, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome. So, if you just turned 50 (or older), and have been diagnosed with one of the comorbidities mentioned above—or you live an unhealthy lifestyle (substance abuse, poor diet, lack of exercise, steroid use)—it’s a good idea to have your testosterone levels checked.

Even if you don’t have symptoms of Low T, you could be facing serious health risks if you don’t seek treatment. Not only has hypogonadism been linked to increased risk for heart disease, Low T has also been associated with autoimmune diseases in men including lupus erythematosis (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and multiple sclerosis (MS).

If your practitioner determines your testosterone levels are low, he or she can prescribe treatment to help you regain hormone balance. And here’s the good news, restoring testosterone levels with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be a great option for many patients.

In fact, the International Journal of Clinical Practice found that restoration of testosterone levels to the normal range with testosterone therapy (including subcutaneous pellets), “improves libido, sexual function, and mood; reduces fat body mass; increases lean body mass; and improves bone mineral density.” Just as important, TAU reports that not only has HRT been shown to improve symptoms of male hypogonadism, it has also been shown to improve quality of life.

50+ women: What is menopause and when does it start?

Would you believe menopause only lasts one day? It’s true! Menopause occurs 12 months to the day after a woman’s last menstrual period, with most women experiencing menopause around 51-52 years of age. That day is generally considered the second stage of menopause, with perimenopause being the first stage and post-menopause being the third.

Perimenopause, which typically lasts between 4 to 8 years (the average starting age of perimenopause is 47), is the final stage of a woman’s childbearing years. It’s also the time of life when annoying symptoms, often referred to as menopausal symptoms, occur. For many women, these symptoms (and others) persist once a woman enters the post-menopause stage.

Common symptoms of post-menopause may include:

  • Vasomotor symptoms, such as:
    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats, general sweating
    • Palpitations
  • Sleeping problems
  • Mood changes
  • Weight gain, belly fat
  • Musculoskeletal changes
  • Decrease in bone density
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Urogenital symptoms, such as:
    • Increased urination frequency
    • Nocturia (frequent need to urinate at night)
    • Urgent need to urinate
    • Stress urinary incontinence
    • Urinary tract infections
  • Atrophy of the vulva, vagina and urinary tract

What causes the symptoms of menopause? Can symptoms be treated?

As women age, the ovaries—the reproductive glands that store and release eggs—gradually produce less and less estrogen and progesterone over time. Together, these two sex hormones control menstruation, while estrogen plays a key role in many other important functions in the body. Estrogen supports brain function, cholesterol, blood sugar, bone density, muscle mass, the circulatory system, collagen production and more.

In women, testosterone and other androgens (male sex hormones) are needed to support ovarian function, bone health and libido. Androgen hormones may also help support brain, mood and cognitive function, according to Harvard Medical School.

According to International School of Gynecological and Reproductive Endocrinology, many of the symptoms commonly associated with the stages of menopause are directly related to low estrogen levels. Fortunately, research has shown that hormone replacement therapy, including HRT with subcutaneous pellets, can help alleviate many of the common symptoms of perimenopause and post-menopause.

As the journal Menopause reported, in one study of postmenopausal women treated with 25 mg estradiol, most of the study participants experienced the return of physiological, premenopausal estrogen concentrations following treatment. Researchers also found treatment provided considerable symptom relief—vasomotor symptoms disappeared in most women, while physical symptoms, anxiety, depression and sexual dysfunction were positively impacted—without triggering significant adverse metabolic effects.

Another interesting study highlights a potential benefit of getting hot flashes in check. Not only are hot flashes annoying and big sleep disruptors, research in the journal Circulation concluded that hot flashes may signify underlying vascular changes among women transitioning through menopause. If you’re concerned about cardiovascular disease (and we all should be), then you should speak to your healthcare practitioner about options to treat hot flashes, like HRT.

In order to optimize hormone balance and post-menopause symptom relief, living a healthy lifestyle is critical. Healthy diet, exercise, limiting caffeine and alcohol, as well as quitting smoking, vaping or use of other tobacco products can all help support hormone balance.

Many patients—women and men—also suffer from nutrient deficiencies that can interfere with proper hormone function. Your practitioner can perform tests to determine whether you would benefit from nutritional supplements, peptides and other integrated therapies.

Take a proactive approach to hormone balance and total body health

Testosterone, estrogen and progesterone are but a few of the many vital hormones the body needs to function optimally. Your practitioner should also evaluate thyroid, cortisol, insulin and growth hormone function (among others) when evaluating hormone balance and total body health. If you have questions about hormone imbalance, hormone replacement therapy and other integrative medicine therapies, contact an EvexiPEL provider near you to discuss next steps.

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