Most will agree that living a long life is as much a curse as it is a blessing. Before you scoff at this notion, you should know that there are many reasons why many people feel this way. On the one hand, a long life affords individuals the opportunity to experience numerous joyful events in life, such as sending their children off to college, witnessing the birth of grandchildren, and so much more. On the other hand, getting older also means being susceptible to many health problems, hence the curse. That said, changes in endocrine function play a tremendous role in many of the health problems that adult men and women encounter as they age, some of which can start as early as age 50. Of course, to fully understand what this means, it helps to know a little more about the endocrine system.
The Role of the Endocrine System in Supporting and Maintaining Good Overall Health
The long and short of it is that the endocrine system is a network of hormone-secreting glands that allow the body to function as it should. Of course, this is as long as they are performing optimally. While there are many, the glands that are especially important to overall health include the following:
- Pituitary gland
- Thyroid gland
- Parathyroid glands
- Pineal body
- Adrenal glands
- The ovaries in women
- The testes in men
These various glands secrete hormones that work collectively to carry out a plurality of bodily functions necessary for good overall health. According to an article published by Johns Hopkins Medicine, some of these functions include regulating metabolism, sexual reproduction, growth and development, healing, and even the physiological and psychological response to stress. Of course, a lot of these functions are interrupted once hormonal imbalances come into the picture. As an example, after age 50, the testes and ovaries secrete fewer testosterone and estrogen hormones, respectively. The same is true when it comes to human growth hormones secreted by the pituitary gland. When these specific hormone levels fall too low, most men and women will experience a bevy of unpleasant symptoms that can take a toll on their health and overall quality of life.
Hormones and Andropause: How Do Men Age?
Many men will suffer from low testosterone levels or a full-on testosterone deficiency when they get older. And the ill-effects can present themselves while they are in their early to late 40s or in their 50s. To put this into perspective, healthy testosterone levels in men under 40 are generally between 280 and 1,100 nanograms per deciliter. Around age 40 is when testosterone production gradually starts to decline, typically by one percent every year. By the time they are age 50, many men have testosterone levels that measure well below 280 ng/dL, which can trigger andropause. This condition, sometimes referred to as male menopause or late-onset hypogonadism, occurs when testosterone levels are low enough to cause the following symptoms in men:
- Changes in body composition
- Low energy
- A noticeable decline in muscle mass and strength
- Cognitive impairment
- Low bone density
Obviously, this list is not all-encompassing as multiple ill-effects are associated with having low testosterone or a full-on testosterone deficiency. However, those enumerated in this article are among the most commonly reported by men in their 40s and 50s.
Hormones and Menopause: How Do Women Age?
Much like men, women will experience menopausal symptoms as they age. However, their symptoms are more so related to low estrogen rather than low testosterone levels. For those not aware, estrogen refers to the amount of estradiol and estrone levels in a woman’s body, both of which are secreted primarily by the ovaries. In premenopausal women, estradiol and estrone levels measuring 13 to 350 and 17 to 200 picograms per milliliter, respectively, are considered normal and healthy. When these levels fall too low, most women will encounter many of the same symptoms as men with low testosterone levels. Of course, this is in addition to a few that are more specific to women. The most notable of these include the following:
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness
- Chills and hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood changes
- A slowed metabolism
- Weight gain
Human Growth Hormones and Aging: What You May Not Have Known but Probably Should
Sadly, many men and women will find themselves struggling with low human growth hormone levels as they approach their 40s. And by age 50, many will have developed a full-on deficiency. In fact, current data shows that some 6,000 men and women are diagnosed with an HGH deficiency every year in the United States alone. And it is reasonably safe to assume the numbers are just as high in other parts of the world. For those who consider the treatment and will need to buy Norditropin as one of the most popular and effective GH brands, it will be useful to get more information about side effects and warnings.
Studies show that the pituitary gland secretes less of these peptide hormones once men and women reach age 30. For reference, the rate at which HGH declines after age 30 is about 10 to 15 percent every decade, say many endocrinologists. By age 55, most men and women have growth hormones in their blood that are roughly one-third lower when compared to that of people age 18 to 35. And the decline in HGH almost always leads to reduced muscle mass and increased body fat. Low HGH levels can also trigger symptoms commonly associated with other hormonal imbalances, such as low libido, low bone density, and mood disorders, all of which are synonymous with low testosterone or estrogen levels.
Thyroid Hormones and Aging
Rounding out the health problems that many men and women will encounter as they approach and settle into their 50s has to do with their thyroid. For reference, the thyroid is a tiny, butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that sits at the base of the front part of the neck. This gland is responsible for secreting two specific hormones into the bloodstream, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Collectively, these hormones work to ensure all cells in the body are functioning optimally. Unfortunately, many people develop hypothyroidism when they are in their 50s. And this means that the thyroid gland is not secreting enough thyroxine or triiodothyronine. When this happens, most will experience the following in the way of symptoms:
- Chronic fatigue
- Increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Weight gain
- Mood disorders
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Muscle cramps
An ill-functioning thyroid can also be in the form of hyperthyroidism, meaning the thyroid is secreting too much thyroxine. Men and women age 50 and over with this particular hormonal imbalance often complain of the following symptoms:
- Mood swings
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Muscle weakness
- Feeling nervous, anxious, or irritable
Final Thoughts: How to Maintain Your Hormonal Health as You Get Older
Indeed, living a long life has many rewards; however, it also comes at a price insofar as many will develop numerous health problems. And many of them will stem from a hormonal imbalance of one kind or another. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. There are plenty of ways to maintain your hormonal health as you get older, and a lot of it comes down to adopting good lifestyle habits. Generally, this means exercising regularly and consuming a well-balanced diet. Taking dietary supplements is also another good way to keep many hormonal imbalances at bay. Lastly, it is a good idea to schedule regular physical exams with a licensed physician. During these exams, many physicians perform blood and other diagnostic tests that can detect hormonal imbalances early, which, in turn, lowers the risk of them giving way to other health problems.