Just as women go through hormonal changes with each cycle, men can experience fluctuations every day and at a certain age often feel a drop in testosterone — which often affects their mood and sex drive.
While not cyclical like women’s, men’s hormones can change due to various factors such as age, lifestyle, and health conditions. Here’s what you need to know about hormone fluctuations in men if you want to understand their sex drive and fertility.
Hormone fluctuations in men
Hormone fluctuations in men can have a significant impact on their sex drive, also known as libido. These hormones play a central role in male sexual desire and performance.
The key players: Testosterone and estrogen
Hormones that play significant roles in men’s health are testosterone and estrogen. Yes, men have estrogen too, just like women have testosterone – it’s all about balance. Testosterone is responsible for male sex characteristics like body hair, muscle mass, and a deeper voice. It also influences libido, mood, and overall energy levels. Estrogen in men is essential for sexual function and bone health.
Testosterone fluctuations throughout the day
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone responsible for promoting the development of male sexual characteristics and regulating sexual function. A man’s testosterone levels can fluctuate throughout the day. They usually peak in the morning and dip in the afternoon, which is why some men may feel more energetic and sexually alert in the morning. This rhythm can be influenced by factors such as sleep, stress, and overall health.
Lower levels of testosterone, whether due to natural aging or health conditions, can lead to a decrease in libido and may also cause issues with erectile function. It also has been associated with mood changes, including increased irritability, anxiety, and mood swings. This is partly because testosterone influences the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, sleep, and appetite.
Stress and cortisol
Chronic stress can lead to increased cortisol levels in the body, which may suppress testosterone production. When cortisol levels are consistently elevated, it can negatively affect sex drive and sexual performance in men.
Hormonal changes with aging
As men age, testosterone levels typically decrease. This is a normal part of aging, but for some men, the decline can be more significant, leading to a condition called low testosterone, or “low T.” Symptoms can include fatigue, depression, irritability, decreased sex drive, difficulties with concentration and memory, and decreased muscle mass.
This decline in men typically starts around age 30 to 40 and continues to decrease gradually about 1% per year. Most men start to experience symptoms of low T in their 40s or 50s, but it’s also possible for younger men to experience low testosterone. It largely depends on individual health factors, lifestyle, and how significantly the testosterone level decreases.
The impact of lifestyle on hormones
Men’s hormones can be influenced by lifestyle factors too. Poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, and insufficient sleep can all impact testosterone levels. On the flip side, a healthy diet, regular exercise, good sleep, and stress management can support healthy hormone levels.
Health conditions and hormone fluctuations
Certain health conditions can cause hormone fluctuations in men. Conditions like obesity, diabetes, and thyroid issues can affect testosterone levels. Medications for these conditions can also impact hormones.
Seeking help for hormonal imbalances
If a man in your life is experiencing symptoms like persistent fatigue, mood changes, decreased sexual desire, or unexplained weight gain, it might be worth suggesting they talk to a healthcare provider. These could be signs of a hormonal imbalance. Treatment options can range from lifestyle changes to hormone replacement therapy, depending on the cause and severity of symptoms.
By understanding hormone fluctuations in men, you can better support the men in your life, whether they are your partners, friends, or family members. Hormones influence well-being in both men and women and understanding these dynamics can lead to healthier, more empathetic relationships.
Dr. Sirichet Anekpornwattana (Fertility doctor) (1 August 2023)