Treating Low Testosterone In Women With DHEA

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Many women who have low serum levels of testosterone (normal total levels range between 15–70 nanograms per deciliter) are often wrongly convinced by their doctors, loved ones or coworkers that they are suffering from depression or stress. Low testosterone in women commonly causes fatigue, low libido and sleep disturbances, symptoms which are also found in mood disorders. The fact of the matter is, like men, women become deficient in testosterone as they age, and may manifest a whole host of symptoms.

Here are some common symptoms of low testosterone which women may experience:

muscle loss
muscle weakness
weight gain
increase in fat stores
reduced libido
decreased sexual satisfaction
vaginal dryness
low fertility
irregular periods
dry skin
thinning hair
bone loss
development of cardiovascular disease

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While some women will agree to boost their testosterone levels by using testosterone supplements (either injected or in topical form), there are numerous side effects which may emerge from such therapy. These side effects, some of which are irreversible, include hair loss (male-pattern baldness), weight gain, insulin resistance, acne, excess facial hair, hirsutism, deepening of voice, aggression, enlarged clitoris, and smaller breast size. If a woman is concerned about these side effects, she can turn to DHEA, regular exercise, and certain foods to increase testosterone levels.

A significant increase in serum testosterone levels has been consistently demonstrated during the hours following exercise, so a regular exercise regimen will naturally and safely increase testosterone levels in women. There are also numerous foods which boost testosterone levels in the body. They are:
Bananas
Pomegranate
Ginger
Asparagus
Onions
Tuna
Salmon
Oysters
Eggs
Beans
Nuts

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What if exercise and the introduction of testosterone-raising foods isn’t enough for a woman to create normal testosterone levels in the blood? A hormone which is secreted in the bloodstream by the adrenal glands known as dihydroepiandosterone, or DHEA, can be taken as an oral supplement. DHEA is converted in the body into DHEA sulfate, then androstenedione, then ultimately to testosterone and estrogens. DHEA reaches its highest levels in the body in one’s twenties, when undergoes a slow and steady decline (about 10% for each decade of life). Oh the joys of aging, right? Probably the most concerning aspect of DHEA’s decline is the potential development of major diseases such as heart disease and cancer, but another confounding aspect is the decline in the sex hormones, with a corresponding drop in muscle mass, increase in visceral fat, skin changes, and all the other symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause.

It is widely believed that DHEA is a key hormone which can be administered as an anti-aging treatment for older individuals. One key study followed 30 male and female subjects ranging between 40-70 years of age for six months, during which time they were given 50 mg of DHEA per day for 3 months, then 3 months of placebo, in random order. It only took two weeks for patients taking DHEA to reach the serum DHEA levels of young adults, and after 3 months on DHEA therapy, the majority of subjects reported improved sleep, more energy, and less anxiety. Another study which examined women between the ages of 45-55 found that the subjects who were given 50 mg daily of DHEA had significantly higher testosterone levels than women who were in the placebo group.

If you are a woman considering boosting your blood testosterone levels with DHEA, please make sure to get a full workup and bloodwork from physician who is well-versed in hormone replacement therapy to determine whether you are indeed deficient in testosterone. I always advise starting with DHEA as opposed to testosterone, since the side effect profile of DHEA is much more tolerable than that of testosterone. I also recommend getting your DHEA supplementation compounded with pregnenolone from a well-respected compounding pharmacy for the best purity and quality. You may still experience some side effects from DHEA supplementation, especially at higher doses (in excess of 25 mg daily). These side effects include oily skin and acne, skin thickening, hair loss, stomach upset, headache, insomnia, high blood pressure, changes in menstrual cycle, facial hair in women, deepening of the voice, and fatigue.

REFERENCES
Morales AJ, Nolan JJ, Nelson JC, Yen SS. Effects of replacement dose of dehydroepiandrosterone in men and women of advancing age. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1994 Jun;78(6):1360-7.

Menopausal Weight Gain

spare trunk woman
Menopause can really break a woman’s spirit, for countless reasons. Her ability to reproduce comes to a screeching halt, her nether regions may start to resemble an arid climate, hot flashes may make her feel like she is spontaneously combusting, and she may have mood swings that would make the Tazmanian Devil look like a calm little bugger in comparison. But it’s the weight gain which often upsets menopausal women the most. Menopausal women will notice that if they drop their caloric intake, weight won’t drop at all, even though it may have easily melted off in the past.

That’s because the plummeting levels of progesterone and estrogen also adversely affect a woman’s ability to mobilize fat. Cortisol levels can go unchecked as a result of the low levels of progesterone and estrogen, and any extra calories will end up getting stored as fat. If a menopausal woman is at a caloric deficit, the switch flips in favor of burning muscle instead of turning to the storage fat she so desperately wants to incinerate. This is especially true for the adipose (fat) tissue around the midsection, because cortisol is notorious for padding that area with extra fat, resulting in an ever expanding belly. Another unfortunate consequence of cortisol is that levels will rise dramatically with prolonged intense exercise. The key is to have more abbreviated, yet still intense, exercise sessions so that the cortisol release is also accompanied by a boost in HGH and testosterone, thus conferring a protective effect on muscle.

Basically, the WORST thing you can do if you are in the midst of menopausal hell and struggling with weight gain is to engage in lengthy gym sessions. That might work for a 20 year old, but it can be devastating for a 50 year old. If you are a gym rat like me, you can still train up to six days per week (that’s how frequently I train), but keep your sessions intense but relatively short, between 30 to 60 minutes. If you train beyond that time window, the excess cortisol release will only trigger your body to cling to fat.

Menopausal women also experience an increase in carbohydrate sensitivity, which means that carbohydrate-rich meals which they used to be able to consume in their younger years without much consequence will suddenly wreak havoc on that waistline. The extra carbs settle in for a long and uninvited stay in the midsection and end up making women miserable. Because of this, dietary shifts need to be implemented in which the intake of starches and grains is dramatically reduced, while the consumption of more lean protein and green vegetables is increased. I also strongly recommend supplementing the diet with digestive enzymes and probiotics to optimize gut health and digestion of different foods.

Don’t Feel Like Yourself? Hormone Imbalance Could Be The Problem.

Portrait of a happy middle aged couple together outdoors

Portrait of a happy middle aged couple together outdoors

Are you experiencing any of the following?

Low energy
Insomnia
Irritability
Hair loss
Weight gain
Mood swings
Hot Flashes
Night sweats
Skin changes
Dry skin
Brittle nails and hair
Decreased libido
Erectile dysfunction
Difficulty concentrating
Memory loss
Depression
Anxiety
Muscle loss
Decreased strength

The above signs and symptoms are usually a clear sign of hormonal balances which are a function of the aging process. It is pretty widely known that women go through a process in which their estrogen and progesterone levels diminish and bring about symptoms of menopause which can be downright frustrating. However, men also go through a decline in testosterone as they age, with some men experiencing a sharp or early decline which manifests in troubling symptoms which have an adverse effect on their day to day lives. This decline, known as andropause, can be monitored through salivary or serum testing of hormone levels and treated with BHRT.

The good news is that in many cases, natural supplements and certain food choices can correct these issues, but some individuals, both men and women, may require supplementation with bioidentical hormones, also referred to as BHRT. Bioidentical hormones have the same molecular structure as the hormones which are produced naturally within the body. As a result, the body treats bioidentical hormones exactly like hormones produced within the body, which means that the body’s hormone balance can be restored.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and interested in booking a consultation with me for hormone balancing, please visit: http://www.drstaceynaito.com/#!natural-hormone-support/c1wd8

No Wind In The Sails?

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Original post can be found at:

http://www.sportsnutritionsupplementguide.com/health-wellness/men-s-health/item/1509-no-wind-in-the-sails#.VYHDM_lViko

Erectile Dysfunction

The fact that erectile dysfunction is far more prevalent than people want to admit to underscores the importance of discussing the topic, especially within the fitness and bodybuilding world. For some men, the explanation could be flagging testosterone levels, while with others, the use of anabolic steroids can significantly interfere with sexual performance.

Other causes of erectile dysfunction include idiopathic low testosterone levels, alcohol abuse, obesity, smoking, prostate issues, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Such medical issues are exacerbated by the use of anabolic substances, especially when cycled over an extended period of time. If a man is experiencing the symptoms of erectile dysfunction, a full history and physical should be performed along with lab work to determine the probable cause of the dysfunction. It is also critical for the sufferer to disclose the use of any anabolic agents or over the counter testosterone boosters, since any of those substances can interfere with normal sexual function.

It is important to bear in mind that when exogenous (outside of the body) testosterone is used, the body’s own production of endogenous testosterone ceases. This might be acceptable for the man who is suffering from clinically low serum testosterone, since he is truly unable to manufacture the amount of testosterone necessary for normal male function, but there are men out there with normal testosterone levels who foolishly decide to supplement with exogenous testosterone in an effort to glean the energy and mass boosting benefits which it promises. What often happens is that libido and physiological sexual response take a nosedive.

Other culprits in the loss of sexual function include anabolic substances, T3, diuretics, and estrogen blockers. Yes, that’s right…the substances which bodybuilders often turn to in order to optimize muscle growth will often rob them of the ability to perform sexually or even have any inkling of sexual desire. While some men might not care about such a loss of desire or function, others are devastated. A bodybuilder might have such a “nose to the grindstone” type of attitude with respect to training that he might not address the issue until a frustrated partner decides to bring the issue up and demands that he address it.

So why is testosterone so important anyway? Testosterone is a vital component in the production of erections. Though this is overly simplified, low testosterone essentially often equates with poor erectile response. Another phenomenon which occurs is that low testosterone levels abolish the ability of the body to aromatize some of the testosterone to estrogen, which activates the brain’s sexual arousal centers and also causes a corresponding vasodilation in the male member.

The great irony in all of this is that bodybuilders who look like they are the ideal representation of virility are often sexually debilitated as a result of androgen manipulation. When anabolic agents are taken over the long term, natural testosterone production plummets, the testes atrophy and erectile dysfunction often results.

For bodybuilders and non-athletes alike, the key is to obtain bloodwork from a physician who is experienced in diagnosing endocrine disorders. For non-athletes, serum studies are often more straight forward and reveal either low testosterone, high serum glucose, high cholesterol, or abnormal thyroid function. In contrast, a serum panel for a bodybuilder who has been flirting with anabolics for an extended period of time may have a cold dose of reality after seeing the results. At any rate, it is well worth the effort to ferret out the root cause of erectile issues.

Natural Libido Enhancers

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Wednesday, 05 June 2013

http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-lab-supplement-school/8399-natural-libido-enhancers.html
boner_rock
Testosterone is responsible not only for optimal muscle mass, it is also vital for sexual drive and function. For those of you who compete, chances are that you are already consuming several of the foods, minerals and herbs which are known to enhance testosterone production, but let’s review them here. If you are having issues with a lagging libido, you might want to add a couple of substances that are not yet in your regimen.

ZINC: This mineral has an essential role in testosterone production, and for this reason EVERY man (barring any medical contraindication) should make sure that he consumes enough zinc to maintain normal levels in the body. The most readily absorbed form of zinc is found in animal protein, which is normally consumed in large quantities by people in the bodybuilding and fitness industries. Another well known source of zinc is oysters, but these are not usually consumed on a regular basis. You may wish to supplement your animal protein intake with zinc tablets or capsules to ensure optimal levels of zinc.

L-ARGININE: This amino acid is also referred to as Nature’s Viagra due to its support of nitric oxide release during sexual arousal. Perhaps you may have noticed a sexual surge when pumping iron at the gym and pounding your pre-workout matrix. You can thank l-arginine for that surge since it maximizes nitric oxide release and thus blood vessel dilation EVERYWHERE in the body. That translates to firmer erections in the bedroom. Great food sources of l-arginine include red meat, poultry, salmon, garlic, oatmeal, nuts, beans and dairy products.

MACA: This herb has been used for centuries to increase sex drive and function.

HORNY GOAT WEED: This potent herb is quite effective at increasing libido with little to no side effects.

MUIRA PAUMA: Another herb known for enhancing the libido.

GINSENG: Enhances libido.

YOHIMBINE HCL: I am not a huge fan of yohimbine due to its side effects (gastrointestinal upset, sudden blood pressure drops, nausea), but it can be effective in increasing blood flow to the genitals. Make sure to look for the pharmaceutical grade product if you choose to use this substance. Take 5 to 10 milligrams three times daily.

TRIBULUS: This is also known as devil’s Weed, and has been used for many years as a natural libido booster. Tribulus contains saponins which stimulate the production of luteinizing hormone in the pituitary gland, thus supporting the body’s production of testosterone. However, the general consensus is that tribulus does not have an appreciable effect on boosting testosterone levels, but it still has a positive effect on libido.

ASPARAGUS: Many of you are aware of the diuretic effect of this vegetable, but asparagus is also a rich source of vitamin E, which enhances sex hormone production. Asparagus also triggers production of histamine which facilities orgasm.

AVOCADOS: This fruit is not only rich in healthy fats, it is also loaded with folic acid, vitamin B6 and potassium, all of which support optimal androgen production.

BANANAS: Bananas are rich in bromelain which enhances libido and may help with erectile dysfunction.

CELERY: This vegetable increases androstenone and androstenol in a man’s sweat and also increases the patency (decreases risk of clogging) in the arteries.

CHOCOLATE: I had to include this despite the fact that it is not the most contest friendly substance. Chocolate is rich in arginine, which increases nitric oxide levels in the body and supports strong erections. It also supports feelings of sexual desire by supporting dopamine secretion via a substance called phenylethylamine.

Fenugreek Enhances Performance

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Wednesday, 16 January 2013

http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-lab-supplement-school/7362-fenugreek-enhances-performance.html
fenugreek leaves and seeds (1)
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a plant indigenous to India and Northern Africa that has demonstrated effectiveness in treating sexual dysfunction and which can increase sexual arousal partially by boosting testosterone levels. Fenugreek also has a myriad of other benefits, among them reductions in cholesterol and lower fasting blood glucose levels in diabetics. For this article, let’s focus on performance related benefits which fenugreek offers.

A 2011 study which examined the effects of 600 milligrams of fenugreek extract versus placebo in men who suffered from erectile dysfunction found a significant increase in sexual arousal and stamina in the men who were supplemented with fenugreek. Fenugreek also helped to maintain a normal testosterone level in the test subjects. For many men, that is reason enough to supplement with this plant, but fenugreek also has a beneficial effect on body composition and strength.

One published study from 2010 examined 49 men who engaged in regular resistance training and had them supplement with either 500 milligrams of fenugreek extract daily or with a placebo. During this time, the participants continued a four-day per week weight training program. After eight weeks the subjects were assessed in their strength while performing bench presses and leg presses and also had their body fat measured. The men who were given fenugreek supplementation had significant improvements in both weight training strength and body fat percentage when compared with the group who were given the placebo. In addition, a measureable increase in testosterone levels was discovered in the men who took fenugreek.

The reason for the boost in testosterone which fenugreek confers is due to a substance known as diosgenin. Diosgenin is one of a class of substances known as steroidal saponins, substances which can be converted to the sex hormones testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. In men, diosgenin increases the testosterone metabolite DHT, which is then converted easily to testosterone. For this reason, it may be especially helpful to take supplements with fenugreek in men who have fluctuating or low natural testosterone levels.

Being A Lefty

Simpsons leftyI am part of the ten percent of the human population which is left handed. Simply by virtue of me being a southpaw, I am more prone to accidents and immune deficiencies, but the left and right hemispheres of my brain exchange information more readily, and I am naturally more creative due to right brain dominance. What is interesting, though, is that I am not left-handed across the board. I do many things right handed, but more on that later.

Studies have discovered that elevated testosterone levels in the womb are often what cause left-handedness to occur. Apparently the higher testosterone level slows the development of neurons in the left hemisphere of the brain, causing more development in the right hemisphere and a corresponding left sided body dominance. One gene (LRRTM1) has also been linked to left-handedness. Some left-handers like me have a cross-dominance, in which one hand is favored for certain tasks while the other hand is favored for other tasks. This is in contrast to a true ambidexterity, in which neither hand is favored over the other.

Here is how my particular hand dominance breaks down:

Write with left hand

Draw and paint with left hand

Perform injections with left hand

Eat with left hand (but can hold utensils with right hand)

Brush teeth with left hand (but can use right hand too)

Tweezers with left hand

Flatiron with left hand

Brush hair with either hand

Throw a ball with right hand (can’t do it with my left at all)

Use computer mouse with right hand

Play(ed) guitar right handed

Play pool right handed

Bowl right handed

Play darts with right hand

Kick with right foot
left handed
I am still not completely sure what this all means, despite having considerable training in science and medicine. It’s pretty fascinating to me, though. I would love to hear from people who might have a little cross-dominance.