Explaining the function of the thyroid is complicated at best. But talk about it we must because of its importance. Therefore we will endeavor to make it simple and keep it in general terms.
Introductory thyroid examination image from medistudents.com.
Healthy Thyroid Function in Men
The thyroid gland and its hormones are the traffic direction center of the hormone system. Thyroid hormones are important in their own right but more so in relation to the function of other hormones. Put simply, a healthy thyroid function is critical to a healthy function of the hormone system in general.
What is Hypothyroid?
As people age, like other hormones, thyroid hormones tend to decline. People tend to become hypothyroid. At a recent conference the statement was made by a noted physician that hypothyroidism in aging adults is perhaps the most undiagnosed and under diagnosed illness in modern medicine. Doctors are not doing the testing, are doing the wrong tests and when give test results are giving the wrong treatment.
A few symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Low energy — fatigue
- Weight gain
- Water retention
- Hair loss (a major cause)
- Dry skin and brittle nails
- Feeling cold in normal temperatures
- Anxiety and irritability
- High cholesterol
- Mental fogginess
There is a simple test you can do at home to determine if you might be hypo-thyroid: Take a glass oral thermometer, shake it down and place it by your bed. When you wake in the morning – before getting out of bed – place it under your armpit for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this for three mornings. If your average temperature is less than 97.8 degrees, you may very well be hypothyroid. This simple test sometimes will show problems that do not show up on lab tests. Be careful to work with a doctor who knows the importance of lab testing backed up by checking axillary temperatures.
Replacement is simple and inexpensive but requires a doctor’s prescription. Avoid synthetic hormones such as Synthyroid– and use a natural desiccated thyroid medication such as Armour.
The thyroid is integral to healthy functioning hormones. Do the simple home test, back it us with lab testing. Work with a knowledgeable doctor and use natural thyroid hormones.
How the Pituitary Gland Works
Here is a simplified explanation of how it works. The pituitary gland sends thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to the thyroid telling it to produce thyroxin (T4). T4 has its own critical functions within the body but equally important is that some of the T4 needs to convert to T3. Studies are showing that thyroid problems in aging adults is not so much a failure of the thyroid to produce T4 as had previously been thought, rather it is a problem of T4 not converting to T3.
Why we Test for T3
Conversion on T4 to T3 is inhibited by:
- 5 Deiodinase – Zinc and selenium deficiencies
- Severe stress and cortisol
- Copper excess
The above shows the reason we test the Free T3. It is also the reason we do not use Synthroid to treat symptoms of hypothyroid. Synthroid is pure T4. It does little good if the problem is not the amount of T4 but rather the conversion to T3. Thus the reason for using desiccated Armour thyroid because it contains both T4 and T3.
Who Should Test Me?
As you search the Internet, you may become very confused as you look for answers to questions such as — Is this right for me? If it is right, who is the best entity to work with? Let’s see is we can help.
Let’s assume that you fit a certain profile:
- You are over 35.
- You are experiencing some or all of the symptoms of male menopause.
- You are searching for information on hormones and how they might be contributing to how you are feeling.
- If you get the information you need to make the decision to proceed with hormone replacement, you may very well be confused about what is the best provider with whom you might work.
You are facing an important decision. It will affect you health and welfare. Replacing hormones is safe and is a positive life altering experience if done correctly. It is also dangerous and possibly debilitating if done incorrectly or without adequate supervision. Remember the expression “putting the family jewels on the line”? That is precisely what you are doing, so do it safely and correctly.
- Read the published articles on the web sites. They should be helpful and for the most part unbiased.
- Doctors who are knowledgeable will base their therapy 50% on your lab tests and 50% on how you describe your symptoms.
- Lab results for hormones will show a comparison to a range. That range is based on the lab having tested both sick and well men. To achieve the results you want and need, your hormone should be managed/replaced to the upper end of the lab range. For example, the range for testosterone is 240 – 1100 ng/dl. You should look for results that relieve your symptoms and that will most probably be between 650 – 1100ng/dl.
- Each man is different. Some will feel great at one level while another requires something more or less.
- Growth hormone is a bit more forgiving than testosterone. We recommend going to levels of 300 – 350ng/ml IGF-1 for the average person. You can safely go to 450ng/ml if you are properly monitored.
- All of the key hormones should be considered. They are very interdependent and have a synergistic relationship.
We suggest that you develop several questions to ask the companies that you choose to investigate. These questions should be asked by phone. You cannot afford to take shortcuts — it is your health that is at stake.
HRT Questions to Ask Your Physician
- Will you be seen by a licensed doctor?
- If you are not seen, will the doctor at least talk to you and will he have seen a recent physical done for you by a licensed doctor?
- Is the doctor who will write your prescription licensed in the State where you live? If not, he is likely giving you an illegal prescription.
- Are you getting adequate laboratory testing so the doctor can make an intelligent decision regarding you therapy?
- For testosterone you should have tested the bare minimum which is:
- Total and free testosterone to determine the level of the hormones that need to be replaced.
- Estrogen – This is critical because as men get older, testosterone can convert to estrogen. If that happens it is very dangerous – it can result in swollen breasts, prostate and/or cancer.
- CBC – Testosterone replacement can cause a rise in iron in the blood, another dangerous condition for men.
- PSA – If there is a problem with your prostate such as cancer, testosterone can make it worse.
- For Growth Hormone-bare minimum tests include:
- IGF-1 to determine the level of GH you have in your body.
- Chemistry Panel to determine if you are, or might become insulin resistant (diabetic) as a result of taking GH.
- Thyroid – Bare minimum test is a T3 Free. Men and women tend to become hypothyroid as they get older. Low thyroid contributes to weight gain, fatigue, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, major cause of hair loss, sleep problems to name just a few. The medical community is calling low thyroid the biggest undiagnosed problem in men and women.
- Will you be retested and have doctor conferences after you start your therapy? How can you know if you are meeting your objectives or if there is a problem developing if you do not do follow up lab testing and do not talk to a doctor. Not doing so is malpractice on the part of the doctor and dangerously irresponsible regarding your welfare.
- Does the doctor write a prescription based on your personal symptoms and lab tests or are they giving the same dose to everyone? Often these doses are very large for example 200 to 400mgs of testosterone per day. This has great potential for harm. I can shock the system and destroy your natural testosterone production. Body builders seem willing to take those risks – you should not.
- Does the program provide hormones for body builders? This should perhaps be your first question. If the answer is yes, it should be a red flag. Therapy for male menopause (men over 35) and that for body builders is not compatible.