Male birth control side effects are not funny

Recently, news outlets have been reporting on the termination of a clinical trial studying male birth control. Many were quick to accuse the men taking part in the trial of being ‘wimps’, but is this reaction perhaps a little over zealous and unfair? I think that the larger issue is one of what we are willing to put our bodies through and whether we can ignore what they are telling us.

This injectable drug uses a combination of synthetic hormones: Progesterone [known as Progestin] and Testosterone. Using long-acting injectable forms of these hormones suppresses the production of sperm. The results were – it cannot be argued – very successful: there was a 96% rate of success in preventing pregnancy among couples whose male partner was taking part in the trial. And yet despite this return the independent safety panel which ultimately halted the trial still had cause for concern, enough to stop the study before completion.

It is not a question of can these men hack the side effects of this new birth control injectable drug, it is a question of whether or not it is safe. Side effects reportedly include depression and mood disorders; along with muscle pain, increased libido, and even infertility.

Infertility

That is a big one. Not to be taken lightly.

Side effects are a warning sign, a message that the body is suffering. Why on earth would men want to take such an injectable method? Just as women suffer side effects from the birth control pill, such as weight gain, water retention, acne, heightened breast cancer risk, so should these men suffer from side effects too?

The injection has not been tested sufficiently and for a long enough time to know the true outcome of this drug. As one of the authors (Dr Mario Philip Reyes Festin, MD) of the study outlined: “more research is needed to advance this concept to the point that it can be made widely available to men as a method of contraception”. This would mean that more research needs to be done to make sure it is ‘adequately safe’.

Prof Allan Pacey at the University of Sheffield also offered an opinion, saying that “the fact that so many side effects were observed in the men who were taking part in the trial is of concern. For a male contraceptive to be accepted by men (or women) then it has to be well tolerated and not cause further problems”.

Both the birth control pill for women and the birth control injectable for men use the synthetic form of hormones. We have already seen the drastic side effects the birth control pill has to offer women. Clearly these synthetic forms of hormones do not belong in the body.

My personal opinion would be to stay away from it boys.

What is the male menopause?

Men have long thought that they had dodged the hormonal countdown with a simple mid-life crisis. A new hairstyle, sports convertible and some festival tickets, and they are sorted with no obvious symptoms of hormonal deficit. Unfortunately, guys, it’s not quite that simple.

Testosterone, a steroid hormone and androgen is generated in higher quantities in men, than in women. Men lose their testosterone over a period of 30 years, starting at about aged 30, whereas women lose all their sex hormones within a 5 year period, which would account for women‘s hyper-acute symptoms.

Although not as widely discussed as the menopause, perhaps because men’s symptoms are more insidious due to the incremental and less drastic decline, the andropause (or, ‘male menopause’) has been recognised for centuries as a period in men’s lives when a shift in hormones results in significant physical, psychological, social and sexual changes.

What are the symptoms of the male menopause?

Unlike the menopause, the andropause does not mean the end of a man’s reproductive ability, which can often last into their 80s. However, the hormonal shift is marked and comparable to that experienced by women, resulting in a whole range of undesirable symptoms.

As with the menopause, the decline in hormone levels is indicated by different symptoms as testosterone, along with other hormones, levels continue to drop off. The first thing you are likely to notice is a blunting of your libido, potentially leading to erectile dysfunction and symptoms of impotence. Muscle wastage and a diminishing of strength come as testosterone levels fall further, resulting in a lack of energy and ability to concentrate, depression, mood swings and even diabetes.

How restorative medicine can combat the andropause

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) is a safe and efficient alternative to synthetic HRT, that corrects and optimises body function by rebalancing hormones, with the use of bioidentical hormones, a molecular structure that is an exact match to the hormones produced within the human body, together with specific vitamins and minerals that all interact with each other.

Certain foods we consume can enhance testosterone and are often known as aphrodisiacs. Low and declining levels of testosterone will inhibit sexual desire. Zinc is an important mineral for men’s libido, and is a proven enhancer of this hormone. Oysters have high levels of zinc, and for the vegetarian…baked beans and nuts. These sexy foods boost your libido. Exercise is, of course, paramount to enhancing testosterone levels as well. Together with bioidentical hormone restorative therapy, and a healthy and active lifestyle, you can restore your body, your quality if life, your libido, and slow the ageing process – all without the adverse side effects associated with a synthetic treatment.

What effect will it have on my symptoms?

An effective BHRT programme overseen by a qualified restorative medicine doctor can correct the symptoms associated with andropause, restoring your sex-drive, giving you clarity of thought, an enhanced mood and can even reduce the risk of more serious secondary conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

How is it different from chemical-based medicines?

Chemical-based hormonal supplements cannot be correctly metabolised by the body, making them toxic and liable to cause or exacerbate other conditions, such as certain cancers, heart disease or sleep apnoea – hence, the longest treatment programme with these methods is just five years.

Unlike the synthetic hormonal therapies, BHRT programmes are geared towards using compounds suited to each individual patient and their unique hormonal blend. And, because of their exactness in molecular structure, bioidentical hormones can be prescribed and taken for a lifetime, with no adverse side effects. That is the beauty of this medicine, we can have optimal health even into our golden years, which then become our platinum years.

How do I investigate restorative medicine?

First up, you’ll need a comprehensive guide to restorative medicine and BHRT that you can use as a reference when considering dietary or lifestyle changes.

If you require medical advice, you should speak to a doctor who knows about restorative medicine and can design a BHRT programme tailored to your specific needs.

 

Andropause – The Male Menopause

Men can suffer the menopause too!

Andropause is the male version of menopause – Men suffer from hormonal loss just as women do, but at a later stage in life.

On the whole, mother nature, or father nature in this case, has been good to men: they do not have menstrual cycles, have babies, or seem to be suddenly struck by total hormone disruption when they hit forty or fifty. However, they do have their own version of menopause, which translates into andropause, and which it is tightly controlled by testosterone levels.  

Testosterone

Men’s testosterone levels are at their peak at around 21. (Do you remember those days?) Thereafter, levels incrementally diminish at about a rate of one to two percent per year, so by the time a man reaches sixty testosterone decline becomes a key concern. An important point to remember is that men lose their testosterone over a 30 year period whereas women lose their sex hormones over a five year period, which can cause sudden, and in some cases, assertive symptoms. A man has more insidious symptoms and may realise that something is ‘not quite’ right, but he can’t figure out what. He is most likely totally unaware of the steady but slow decline in optimal hormonal function.   

Below the belt

Testosterone has always been linked to a ‘below the belt’ discussion for most men, but issues such as low libido and erectile dysfunction usually become apparent later on (after sixty). In actual fact, an array of hormonal changes, similar to a woman’s menopausal symptoms, happen before we see erectile problems evolve.

Symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, concentration problems, fatigue, mood swings, depression, irritability, constipation, hair loss and baldness, and even weight gain. With decreasing proportions of testosterone we see more insulin resistance, and the ‘pot belly’ effect.

Risks to the heart

Men may suffer from aches and pains, increased and rapid heart rate, and other heart problems. Testosterone is a potent vasodilator*, as it is stimulates nitric oxide. With increased loss of testosterone, we will see high blood pressure and a gradual reduction in blood flow throughout the body, to such important organs as heart, brain and penis. In fact, declining and low testosterone levels are the greatest independent risk factor for coronary artery disease regardless of his family history, total cholesterol, and lifestyle habits, including smoking.    

Low libido and difficulty with erections can make life difficult, affecting not only their life but that of their family too. And of course, most men will certainly have urinary problems such as hesitancy – benign prostatic hypertrophy, an enlarged prostate gland, creating the inability to evacuate urine completely.

Both men and women have testosterone and oestrogens, only at different levels. Women have less testosterone to that of oestrogens, whereas men have more testosterone to that of oestrogens. When testosterone levels decline in men it creates an imbalance between this ratio – there will be more oestrogens to testosterone. This increasing proportion of oestrogens to testosterone increases blood clotting factors, and narrowing of the coronary arteries, leading to an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. On the other hand, too little oestrogen(s) predispose men to bone fractures and osteoporosis. Balance is what is needed!       

Restore your body to optimal levels and avoid all the risks and symptoms of a hormonal imbalance.

*Vasodilators are agents that open (dilate) blood vessels. They work directly on the muscles in the walls of your arteries, preventing the muscles from tightening and the walls from narrowing.

Endometriosis cause and cure

Endometriosis (pronounced en- doh – mee – tree – oh – sis) is a condition that is little understood, and can be misdiagnosed for years. It really deserves more attention, especially since it is such a life-destroying issue.

Endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological condition. It is estimated that around 1.5 – 2 million women in the UK have endometriosis and it affects between 10-15% of women worldwide.

Endometriosis can affect all women and girls of a childbearing age, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Conventional medicine believes there is no cause for this condition, so therefore, no cure. Of course, if there is no cause then there can’t possibly be a cure, right?

What exactly is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition that is found in the female reproductive system. The cells that form the lining of the uterus (known as the endometrium) grow outside of the uterus rather than within it, commonly in the pelvis, fallopian tubes, abdomen or ovaries. These areas of tissue growing outside the uterus are known as, ‘uterine implants’.

With endometriosis the tissue outside the uterus is affected by the hormonal changes of menstruation just as the uterine lining is affected by hormonal changes. So when you have a period, the uterine implant bleeds, just as it would, were it inside the uterus: thickening, breaking down and bleeding.

Since there is no where for the blood to go, it sets up an inflammatory process, which goes on to cause great discomfort and pain. These implants can also make their own oestrogens by way of a process called ‘aromatase’: the conversion of testosterone to oestrogens, which go onto stimulate the endometrium. These implants can migrate into the muscle wall of the uterus (adenomyosis), causing bleeding into the uterine muscle during the menstrual cycle, causing intense pain. They can also migrate to the spinal cord, causing extreme lower back pain. With endometriosis you may also experience excess bleeding and cramping, along with fatigue, bloating, and painful intercourse.

What is the cause of Endometriosis?

The cause is quite simply a hormonal imbalance; an excess of oestrogens is the culprit. An excess of oestrogens is commonly known as oestrogen dominance. Oestrogens and progesterone are a group of two female reproductive hormones that work together as a team and need to be in balance for our general health and protection, and to prevent oestrogen dominance. Progesterone is responsible for protecting our heart and bones, and has an anticancer effect, especially against that of breast cancer and endometrial cancer. It also helps prevent endometriosis.

What is the cure for Endometriosis?

Your conventional doctor may offer you pain killers, that really don’t resolve the situation. They may also suggest taking synthetic hormones such as the contraceptive pill, to hopefully balance out hormones. They don’t! You don’t want more oestrogens floating around, you already have enough. And the pill is certainly not a ‘permanent fix’ for endometriosis, and offer some nasty side-effects, including breast cancer.

As endometriosis seems be due to an excess of oestrogens, supplementing with bioidentical progesterone alone is very advantageous. Progesterone can modify the action of oestrogens, therefore reduce the amount of time oestrogens stay on the receptor sites, and at the same time decrease the amount of circulating oestrogens. Natural progesterone also helps decrease the amount of uterine contractions that are one of the causes of pain in women with endometriosis.

No need to suffer anymore! Restore your body and regain balance!

Xenoestrogens and an increased risk of endometriosis

I can hear you asking, “And what on earth are xenoestrogens?”

I know that not everyone has heard about these environmental compounds with oestrogenic activity. Once inside the body they can mimic our own natural oestrogens. They are dangerous and disrupt the hormone environment, which in turn will interfere with the reproductive system, going on to create numerous reproductive health problems.

Are any of you having trouble conceiving? It may not be you, it could even be your partner. Excess xenoestrogens in the body can harm both ova and sperm! Something to think about!

Xenoestrogens have been seen to cause poor prostate health (in men), irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovary syndrome, uterine cysts, fibroids, and endometriosis.

How to avoid xenoestrogens

Believe it or not, many xenoestrogens are found in products that you use every day. The daily exposure to these oestrogen-like compounds are putting your health at risk. Although it may be impossible to eliminate all of these products from your daily life, it is always good to try. You cannot do this if you are not well informed, so here you are:

  • Parabens are everywhere, they are used as a preservative. Look for them on the ingredient list when buying face creams, body creams, sunscreens, shampoos etc. And especially, methylparaben, proplyparaben, butylparaben and ethylparaben.
  • Food dyes and preservatives, such as, butylated hydroxanisole, and FD & C #3 (a synthetic cherry-coloured dye used in cake decorating gels, candies, and popsicles.) Red dye #3 is also used as a colour additive for ingested drugs – beware – double whammy! All are bad news!
  • Chlorine and products containing chlorine – not good!
  • Polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin such as flame retardant materials, some home furnishing, cars and electronics.
  • Weed killer and insecticides.
  • Ethinylestradiol, found in combined oral oestrogen birth control pills.
  • Cleaning detergents – many contain surfactant (one of the many different compounds that make up a detergent).
  • Building supplies – which can include, pentachlorophenol found in wood preservatives and polychlorinated biphenyls found in adhesives, lubricants, paints and electric oils.

So what have all these Xenoestrogens got to do with Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a medical condition that is found in the female reproductive system. What happens is tissue grows outside of the uterus rather than within it. Of course, this overgrowth can happen in several other places as well, including the vagina, bladder, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and the side of the pelvic wall – all cause discomfort. With endometriosis the tissue outside the uterus is affected by the hormonal changes of menstruation just as the uterine lining is affected by hormonal changes. You may then experience excess bleeding and cramping, along with fatigue, bloating, painful intercourse, and pain in the pelvic area.

The thing is when xenoestrogens enter the body by way of drinking out of plastic bottles (plastic is a no, no in my household – a definite NO! banned, vietato!), by applying sunscreen, or being exposed to any of the above mentioned, they can cause endometrial symptoms simply because xenoestrogens over-stimulate the cells which then go on to cause excess tissue growth. The name for an excess of oestrogens is commonly known as oestrogen dominance. Having an excess or dominance of any oestrogens can cause the development of endometriosis. For the majority of women diagnosed with endometriosis, it is the first indication that they have a hormonal imbalance.

If you are suffering from or recognise any of the aforementioned endometrial symptoms, it is important that you consult with a restorative hormone specialist so you can get to the root cause. Your restorative specialist can then determine the best and most appropriate treatment helping you to avoid any other further and/or more serious problems, and get you back on track to start feeling better!

To your health!

Female Viagra – No need for that little pink pill

Balance your hormones to obtain sexual wellness

I was recently out walking with a friend and she asked me what I thought of the new viagra for women. She saw my face change, and understood immediately, that I didn’t think much of it.

Have any of you heard of the little pink pill of sexual desire, called Flibanserin, the female equivalent of viagra – the little blue pill? Well, there’s so much controversy going on about it at the moment that it’s almost impossible that you haven’t, at least if you live in the US. It was recently given the stamp of approval in early June by the FDA, and wow are we women happy!

I am joking, of course. We are NOT happy or shouldn’t be. It is a chemical drug that has various side-effects including an increased risk of dizziness, fainting, nausea, fatigue, dry mouth, anxiety and/or unintentional injury when combined with alcohol. It is a chemical sex pill, which has a low reward, high risk ratio. Flibanserin is basically an antidepressant, that defuses its murky shadows over the brain by working on neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Women do not need this pink pill. This is not the way it should be.

As you already know, I am all for a vibrant and happy sex life, and the possibility of being able to reinstate a deflated sex drive is wonderful, but sex is not just about pure sex, there are so many other factors involved. What if we really don’t want it, what if we have an unstable relationship, should we just do it for the sake of doing it or because it is expected of us? No, of course not. What real pleasure can there be in that? Surely we should be connected in every sense of the word; mind, body and soul? What if we are psychologically unhealthy? What if our sex organs really can’t accommodate it!? What if..what if…what if? There are so many ‘what ifs’ in menopause. The sharp hormonal decline experienced in menopause takes the mind, body and soul connection away. It numbs it. This imbalance can lead to vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse, weight gain, depression, panic and anxiety attacks, and more.

Most people, men and women alike, find that low sex drive accentuates with age, which is, in major part, due to hormonal decline.

Many women live in hope that Flibanserin is their answer, but it isn’t. This is not some kind of ‘magic bullet‘ that says, “Hey, go girl go”. It doesn’t work like that. Flibanserin does not correct vaginal dryness, take the pain away during intercourse, or correct weight gain or depression which all have an impact on sexual desire, or the lack of it.

In men testosterone levels decline gradually throughout their lifespan, and by mid-life they begin to see obvious symptoms such fatigue, mood swings, reduced muscle mass, erectile dysfunction (ED) and reduced sexual desire. If they restore their body with bioidentical hormones, and in particular testosterone, they will regain their lust for love making and sexual function will return! No more need for that little blue pill.

In women, the decline of our precious sex hormones, oestrogens, progesterone are partly at fault, but testosterone, the big, tempting, fascinating, supposed male hormone (women have testosterone as well), play a significant role in sexual desire. At the onset of menopause testosterone levels drop significantly, adding greatly to our lost libido. Testosterone is a pretty potent sex hormone for women, helping to increase sexual sensations and allowing us to have better and stronger orgasms. Who needs the little pink pill with all its side effects and low reward and high risk ratio? We have restorative medicine.

Welcome to a happy sex life! Balance your hormones.

Have you lost your vagina, or has it lost you?

  • Have you lost your vagina, or has it lost you?

    dry vagina

Now there’s a question!

I often hear women say there is no cure for a dry vagina, but there is, I tell them! You do not have to lose your vagina and it does not have to lose you. Which is the first to go, you or it? To tell you the truth, they leave together.

When you are in perimenopause you may suddenly find that your vagina has taken a trip to Dubai, to the dried out sands of the dessert. With vaginal dryness, sex hurts, so you run away and hide inside yourself, you don’t want it anymore, preferring to eat an ice cream and watch a movie or even clean the house. It and you leave together, but it doesn’t have to be like that, we can fix it together.

In perimenopause I remember going from doctor to doctor with my litany of symptoms, in the hope that someone could take them away, and very importantly, also fix my dry vagina. I know it is hard to admit, but it happens to the best of us, luckily we can now do something about it, without the risks involved.

The only things these doctors could offer was a pat on the back, synthetic HRT (hormone replacement therapy), antidepressants, and the reassurance that it would pass, advising me that age was something I had better get used to. Well, taking synthetic HRT was definitely not an option, especially with all the risk factors involved – breast cancer and heart disease.

I wanted to scream

As I sat there, in front of those doctors who calmly smiled down on me, I felt a wave of incredible anger come over me – I wanted to scream! How dare they be so smug, and tell me it would pass, and age was something I had better get used to? How dare they? This was not the answer I was looking for. I wanted all of these life-destroying symptoms to stop and I definitely wanted my functional vagina back! Guess what? I got it back.

When hormones are balanced, and your female hormones oestrogens and progesterone are within the correct ratios, you feel feminine again, sexy again, your juices flow better.

Oestrogens soften the cervix and produce the vaginal secretion that lubricates during intercourse, enhancing the quality of sexual pleasure. When the vagina is lubricated and there is sufficient blood flow to the genitals you will get youthful arousal, and strong orgasms will be the end result. Testosterone is also another important hormone involved in sexual pleasure, helping to boost your sex drive, your sexual arousal and sexual sensitivity. With its decline, you lose your imagination, your fantasy, and your sensitivity, all of which are part of a fantastic orgasm.

When there is an imbalance of hormones your vagina will suffer and so will you. You no longer have to ‘dry out’, balanced hormones and vaginal satisfaction go hand in hand.

Photo credit: JD Hancock, Desert Chase