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What Are Bioidentical Hormones for Men?

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  • Written By: R. Bargar
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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Bioidentical hormones for men are used to counter the effects of declining testosterone and other hormone levels as men age. During middle age and beyond, symptoms of lower testosterone levels such as weight gain, fatigue, muscle loss and memory problems may become apparent. Called andropause, this hormonal imbalance in men may be treated using hormone replacement therapy. Bioidentical hormones are said to be identical to the natural forms of hormones found in the body, unlike the synthetic hormones used in conventional hormone replacement therapy. Proponents of bioidentical hormones for men claim that they are safer and more effective than synthetic hormones.

Derived from plants and other sources, bioidentical hormones for men are thought to have the exact molecular structure of natural human hormones, although this has not yet been confirmed with definitive testing. Bioidentical hormones were first developed as an alternative to synthetic hormones for women after research studies found several dangerous side effects of conventional hormone replacement therapy. Advocates state they are a safer choice, but studies have not proven this. Bioidentical testosterone has been developed for male hormone restoration, although its use is not as common as the hormones for women.

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Over decades, a man's testosterone and other hormone levels gradually decline. Once the symptoms of lower hormone levels become apparent, he experiences andropause, a hormone imbalance somewhat like menopause in women. The regulatory actions of hormones are complex and not fully understood, but low levels of testosterone have been shown to cause a wide variety of age-related symptoms including lower sex drive, sleep problems and depression. Cardiovascular problems and adrenal fatigue may also be related to low levels of sex hormones. Despite the lack of conclusive clinical research, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is believed to provide relief from hormone imbalance symptoms.

The two most common ways bioidentical hormones for men are administered are orally and through the skin in the form of a patch or gel. Hormones taken orally are processed by the liver and less than half become available to the blood and tissues of the body. When absorbed through the skin, nearly the entire dose enters the bloodstream.

In conjunction with hormone treatment, blood and saliva testing is done to determine the levels of hormones in the body and the required doses of bioidentical hormones needed to correct any imbalance. Medical professionals differ in their opinions of the validity and accuracy of these testing methods. The possibility of receiving too much testosterone increases when dosing is determined by faulty hormone level testing methods.

Side effects of excessive testosterone include irritability and violent tendencies. Also, the sex drive may be over stimulated and any benefits of testosterone supplementation may be lost. In addition, there are concerns that supplementation may lead to a further reduction in the body’s ability to produce the hormone.

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