Male Menopause

Our current Western culture seems to me to be both increasingly confused and increasingly obese. Odd, but perhaps these two problems are directly linked. How so? One of the answers may lie in our belly fat.

Belly fat contains a specific enzyme, aromatase, that converts androgens (male hormones) to estrogens. Men with beer guts – or middle aged spread – will have higher levels of this enzyme than lean-bellied men. This translates as lowered testosterone levels, and hastens the onset of andropause – male menopause. Conversely, women with normal levels of aromatase from a little belly fat will not experience a hormonal shift towards early menopause, or any reduction of their femininity. So belly fat on a man does not equal belly fat on a woman.

Perhaps one of the essential functions of aromatase in belly fat is to ensure optimal levels of estrogens. Which means, for a woman, strong bones, high fertility and all round good health. But for a man, high aromatase will lead to higher estrogens and lowered androgens, therefore lowered muscle mass, premature aging and decreased sexual vitality. So it is not good news for a man to carry a sagging belly: his testosterone will suffer from it.

Over the past 20 years or so, average testosterone levels in men have been falling on average 1% per annum. Male fertility problems have been increasing, with falling sperm count and sperm potency. What is going on?

Toxins. The multiple chemical onslaught we have unleashed upon the environment including herbicides, pesticides and plastics used in food processing have had disturbing effects upon our hormonal system. Many of these chemicals closely resemble estrogen in their molecular structure, and therefore they will bond with estrogen receptors on our cells, throwing our cells into a state of confusion. The net result is an excess of estrogen effect within the body. In the case of women, this will lead to weight gain, insulin resistance (diabetes), and increased susceptibility to breast cancer and heart disease. In the case of men, weight gain and diabetes are equally likely, with the added problem of testosterone imbalances and early andropause, due to the effects of aromatase in belly fat upon androgens.

What can be done to address these problems? First we should recognize that excess belly fat, whether with men or women, also often has a direct relationship with elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone, produced by the adrenal gland. When a person is chronically stressed, excess cortisol production will occur, and in numerous people this will lead to abdominal weight gain. Coupled with estrogen look-alikes from environmental  toxins, the cortisol will build belly fat cells and therefore increasearomatase levels.

Fortunately, there are always solutions once we understand the problems correctly. Puesterol is the first standardized extract from pueraria mirifica, the herb which  powerfully regulates hormone levels  by functioning as a Safe Estrogen Receptor Modulator. This supplement will work equally well for men and women. Cutting down on stress levels by diet, yoga, meditation or other alternative means, will reduce cortisol production in the adrenals, revitalizing those glands and slowing the production of abdominal fat cells – so also stopping excess production of aromatase.

Yes, it is possible to inhibit aromatase production by taking a prescription drug. But this will not get to the root of the problem, and will likely have side effects. Truly understanding issues specific to both male and female health requires detoxification, hormone regulation through natural means, and lifestyle modification. Both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have herbal and energetic treatments to support male and female problems. Herbal formulas which restore male potency, or which help regulate female hormone production were developed over thousands of years in these ancient cultures, and can help us today along with modern detox methods to address the chronic problems we are facing. For more specific information on these treatments, please email