Article at a Glance
- Increased fat mass, decreased lean muscle, and reduced sex drive can all be caused by hormonal changes you might be experiencing in your 40’s.
- Testing your hormone levels can help isolate the cause of some undesired symptoms seen with age.
- Knowing your hormone levels is the first step in getting proper treatment to remedy any hormone imbalances that may be affecting your health.
You might be noticing some unwanted changes to your physique and mental state in your forties. Weight-gain (especially around the abdomen), difficulty gaining and keeping lean muscle, depressed mood, and reduced sex drive are just some examples. A lot of these unpleasant experiences are driven by the hormonal changes that are seen with age. Luckily, there are many ways to mitigate the changes that are associated with hormonal fluctuations. To start tackling them, however, you need to test your hormone levels.
Here, we’ll show you why testing hormones is important, how you can do it, and what hormonal changes you should be looking out for when you’re in your forties.
Hormones and Aging
Hormones are chemicals in the body that signal organs to regulate essential functions, such as sleep, homeostasis, digestion, immune response, mood regulation, and sex drive.
The level of hormones produced and the sensitivity of their target organs change with age. While the exact point at which these occur varies with each individual, there is a trend showing significant alterations in hormones starting at age forty [R].
That’s why it’s important to test your hormone levels at this age. Not only will it help you compare your levels to the norm, but it also allows you to track yourself as you continue to age and as you incorporate different lifestyle changes or therapies to balance your hormones.
Let’s look at some hormones you might want to keep an eye on this decade.
Testosterone: What is it and how do I test my levels?
When you think of the words “hormones, age, and men”, testosterone likely comes to mind.
Testosterone is produced in the testicles by Leydig cells [R]. As the years pass, the testicles start to naturally decline in function, and as a result, testosterone levels fall at a rate of about 1%-2% every year after ages 30-40 [R, R]. However, factors like genetics and body composition influence the rate of decline and so this estimated percentage differs amongst individuals [R, R].
Testosterone affects the whole body – from mood to energy levels to sex drive to metabolism [R]. Low testosterone is linked with a variety of different symptoms and complications, such as reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, increased fat, loss of muscle mass, low bone density, sleep issues, fatigue, diminished cognitive function, and depression [R].
There are various ways you can check your testosterone levels. The first method is doing a simple blood test prescribed by a healthcare professional. Alternatively, there is the convenient option of testing your testosterone levels from the comfort of your home by ordering an online hormone quantification kit and taking a saliva sample.
Once you quantify your testosterone levels, ask your medical professional about ways to maintain or increase your levels. There are many proven methods to both preserve and raise your testosterone, including simple lifestyle changes like improving sleep and reducing stress [R]. Testosterone Replacement Therapy is also an option shown to substantially improve testosterone levels and can be administered in the form of injections, patches, or gels [R].
Other Hormones to Test in Your Forties
Although testosterone may be the most widely-tested hormone in men, it’s important to note that hormones are very interactive and there is a complex interplay between them. This means that it’s also important to have other hormones tested along with testosterone.
For example, the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is the most abundant steroid in men and functions as a precursor of testosterone [R]. It’s also responsible for various other effects such as the reduction of inflammation, improvement of immunity, enhancement of insulin sensitivity and maintenance of sexual functioning. Furthermore, it protects the brain by improving cognitive performance and boosting memory [R].
DHEA levels decrease at a rate of 10% per decade after the age of forty [R]. Studies suggest that low DHEA levels are associated with conditions like heart disease, atherosclerosis, bone loss, inflammatory diseases, and sexual dysfunction, as well as cognitive disorders like depression and anxiety [R, R].
Other hormones to consider testing are thyroid hormones. These hormones primarily control metabolism [R]. As a result of stress or poor sleep, their balance can be altered, leading to conditions such as hyperthyroidism (which leads to increased heart rate, anxiety, sleeping problems, and weight loss) or hypothyroidism (which leads to mood disturbances, hair loss, weight gain, and impaired memory) [R, R, R, R, R ]. Testing your thyroid hormones levels can help determine if there is a problem related to your thyroid and whether steps need to be taken.
While symptoms you experience in your forties may be related to a variety of things, hormones often play a role. To take proactive steps to balance your hormone levels as you age, it’s important to test them. Luckily, there are easy-to-use kits to track your hormone levels without even leaving your house. However, if you’d like someone to discuss the results of those tests, check out our range of health and longevity clinics to find a knowledgeable provider.
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