Male Hormone Panel
The symptoms of andropause most frequently are caused by a deficiency in testosterone and an imbalance in other sex steroid hormones. The following hormones and blood markers can all be measured, by taking a simple blood sample, to determine if they are the cause of the symptoms of andropause: Testosterone (Free and Total), Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), Fractionated Estrogen, and Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG).
As was discussed previously, BPH is most commonly caused by alterations in sex hormones as we age. BPH is a rather benign condition, mainly causing difficulties in urination. However, it is important to determine if a man’s BPH is not actually something more serious, like prostate cancer. Prostate cancer causes many of the same symptoms as BPH and may go undetected until late in its development. As part of the male hormone panel, it is therefore important to also get a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood level to determine if the cause of urinary difficulties are due to BPH or potentially something more serious.
As was discussed previously in this article, the thyroid is a gland that secretes thyroid hormone, an important hormone necessary in a whole host of biological functions, such as temperature regulation, metabolism and energy maintenance. If the thyroid is hypofunctioning, it can mimic some of the symptoms of andropause. Therefore it is important to measure blood levels of thyroid hormone and thyroid stimulating hormone to determine if a hypofunctioning thyroid is actually the cause of the decline in a man’s health.
If the adrenal glands are not functioning properly, it can be very difficult to maintain healthy hormone balance in the rest of the body. Adrenal stress can make it harder for the thyroid gland to work well, and can also put added stress on the reproductive glands. For men with low testosterone, adrenal testing can be very helpful. Testosterone is also produced with the help of the adrenal glands. If the adrenal glands are not functioning at their best, symptoms of andropause can occur including low libido, poor energy, or weight gain.
Adrenal function can be tested with either a blood sample or a saliva test. The salivary test is a kit that is brought home with the patient and 4 saliva samples are taken throughout the day. Then the kit is dropped in the mail, and the results are sent back to the doctor’s office for review. The saliva test gives 4 different cortisol readings, plus DHEA, and the DHEA to cortisol ratio. This is helpful for determining the extent of adrenal stress, and gives your doctor a clear idea of which adrenal support supplements may be right for a patient.
Cardiovascular Risk Assessment Testing
Heart attack and stroke are the leading cause of death in the United States. As men going through andropause have lowered testosterone levels, and a decrease in testosterone is correlated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, this fact becomes even more important. The standard laboratory tests that measure cardiovascular health often do not give enough information about and warning to the potential occurrence of such attacks. Therefore it becomes very important for men to utilize specialized labs and advanced tests to determine their risk of developing cardiovascular disease, potentially leading to heart attack and stroke.
The first step is to draw blood for an advanced cholesterol test called LPP+™. LPP+™ is an extensive specialty blood test that determines the size and presence of lipoproteins such as LDL, HDL, RLP, and Lipoprotein(a). The size of the LDL and HDL particles are more valuable measures of risk than the total number measured. The smaller the size of the LDL, the more likely it will invade the arterial wall and increase plaque formation. The LPP+™ plus evaluates the presence of LDL III and LDL IV, the smallest LDL particles, to determine if they are contributing to atherosclerosis. Lipoprotein (a) is a direct cause of plaque growth and plaque rupture that can cause a heart attack. Other tests included in the panel, which are helpful to evaluate risk and determine treatment, include C-Reactive Protein(CRP), Homocysteine, and Insulin. These are not accounted for on the standard cholesterol panel.
The next step to complete this advanced assessment is to perform a B-mode ultrasound of the carotid arteries. Carotid intima media thickness, or CIMT Imaging of the carotid arteries, as determined by B-mode ultrasound, is a measure of preclinical and generalized atherosclerosis (presence of plaque in the arteries). This test has been shown to be positively associated with coronary heart disease and stroke. Typical ultrasounds of the carotids measure blood flow. This unique test evaluates the thickness of the arterial wall, to catch the presence of plaque even earlier.
Although food allergies may not cause andropause directly, food allergy symptoms can often mask those symptoms of andropause and actually cause other problems that men have as they age, like BPH. Common symptoms between andropause and food allergies include, but are not limited to: fatigue, depression, anxiety, weight gain, attention problems, BPH, and decline in libido.
There are two types of food allergy reactions: Type I and Type II. A 25 year ongoing study reveals that 95% of the population has what is known as a Type II toxic reaction, or IgG response, to common everyday foods that are eaten regularly. Type I reactions are almost immediate, causing symptoms like hives, swelling and sometimes anaphylaxis. Type II reactions are not immediate, but delayed reactions, making them almost impossible to detect without sophisticated testing. Taking a small sample of blood, doctors can determine which foods are causative to either a Type I (IgE) or Type II (IgG) reaction. With the results of this test, only those foods which are reactive can then be avoided, and later reintroduced into the diet after symptoms have resolved.