Search results for testosterone

Caffeine and hot flashes

Posted by on Aug 1, 2014 in hot flash, nightsweats | 0 comments

Depositphotos_13475137_xsTrue confession: I hated reading this study and I truly dislike the findings. But I feel obligated to share what I’ve learned about caffeine and menopause, if only to provide you with additional options for symptoms management. If you are a long-time reader of Flashfree, you will remember that I’ve previously covered the health benefits of coffee so the news isn’t all that bad. However, if you are experiencing frequent hot flashes and night sweats, you may want to considering cut down on your daily consumption.

Recently, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN surveyed over 1,800 women who visited the clinic for menopausal complaints. The women were asked to respond to a scientific survey — the Menopause Health Questionnaire — that assesses a variety of important factors such as demographics, reproductive/gynecologic histories and the presence/severity of symptoms. With regard to caffeine intake, the women were asked if they consumed drinks with caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, soft drinks) and current smoking status was also evaluated. Because of the subjective nature of pre- and perimenopause, these women were grouped and then compared to women who were in full menopause.

Although the use of self-reported questionnaires always introduce possible bias for skewed study findings, it’s important to note that compared with women who did not use caffeine, caffeine users scored higher for vasomotor symptoms. Moreover, even after the researchers accounted for possible confounding factors such as smoking and menopausal status, ingesting caffeinated beverages was still significantly associated with an increase in bothersome hot flashes and night sweats. Evidently, caffeine use did not affect other common symptoms, such as sleep issues or sexual function).

A possible explanation lies with way that caffeine possibly interacts with the body’s estrogen; for example, it may inhibit an enzyme that converts the hormone androgen into estrogen. Another theory is that is affects the levels of other sex hormones, such as testosterone. Regardless, if you are experiencing frequent hot flashes and night sweats and have come to your wit’s end, you may want to consider how you are using caffeine. Breaking up is hard to do but it may save you a drop or two of that sweaty, hot stuff!


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GUYSIDE TAKEOVER: finding “aging” inside “changing”

Posted by on Jul 21, 2014 in aging, Guyside | 1 comment

FlashFree is all male this week! While Liz takes some time to enjoy herself, we’re going all-Guyside all the time. I hope regular readers can withstand the onslaught of testosterone. I promise not to post about cars and sports. Too much. — Bob. 

Living a long time is everyone’s goal. And the changes in our aging bodies can creep up on us, the way that you don’t notice a child growing up until he or she goes away for a time and then you look and realize “Wow, you’re six inches taller!”

There’s no doubt that you can do things to minimize the march of time. Some people swear by statin drugs as the magic pill to extend life. Others, like futurist Ray Kurzweil, are gobbling vitamins in large doses to ensure their survival to see the glorious future that awaits us all. Whatever your strategy, I’ve got a couple of ideas about this stuff I want to share.

First: maybe we need to do a personal inventory — physical, spiritual, emotional — at some regular interval. I know that if I were to chart my physical fitness from one year to the next over the last few years I’d see some significant swings, mostly based on how much cycling I’m doing. My emotional fitness too, depending on what things were happening in my life. For example, I’ve no doubt the year my dad died my emotional fitness would have been down. No wonder! For a while (until I emptied the bottle), I had a bottle of single-malt Scotch that only got opened once a year on my birthday. I’d have a birthday dram and scribble a note on the box to say what was happening when I had it. Maybe we should take a little time — on our birthday, perhaps, or New Year’s Day — and assess our selves. What’s changed since the last time? Where are we at in our lives? What would we like to see change over the next 12 months? Write it down, put it somewhere. If nothing else, it might be an interesting experience to read the previous entries.

Second, time is inevitably going to reduce our abilities. 20 years ago, I prided myself on my skills as a glutton. I can remember epic nights with friends where we’d eat countless chicken wings or endless slices of pizza or bottomless hot-fudge sundaes. That doesn’t happen now. I could survive on a couple of hours of sleep if I wanted to and never feel I needed to “catch up.” Not any more. Those are minor changes, compared to some of those I see my mom struggling with, but there’s one important lesson that I’m seeing. Those changes are quicksand, or they’re an undertow in the water. If you fight them, you exhaust yourself. If you remain calm, let them take you, and then gently push against them, you can regain some sense of control.

Third, we need to balance being done for and doing. I might not want to move house myself at this point in my life. My mom, for example, has difficulty with bending over and picking stuff up. It makes her breathing difficult. But she’s having a difficult time stopping herself from doing it. Her motivation is there but she’s unwilling to accept the limitations that her aging body is placing on her. It’s a complicated balance. For a child of a senior, part of you wants to see them taken care of and all their needs met, but I worry there’s a tipping point somewhere where the passion for self-reliance falls away.

And finally, there’s a value in finding and appreciating simple pleasures. A good meal, another person’s touch, sun on your face, a country drive — all of those things give my mom a good feeling. We could all learn a little about simply stopping and letting those things work on us, noticing them, appreciating them.

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Got menobrain?

Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in HRT, memory/learning | 0 comments

Vision of Inner Thoughts

Boy, oh boy, I sure do. Forgetful, unfocused, downright ditzy. Will an extra boost of estrogen help? Not according to newly published data in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In fact, researchers are now starting to dispute the link between declining levels of estrogen and cognition. And this, my dear friends, blows the lid off the roof when it comes to HRT and its use in boosting our thinking.

In this study, researchers tested 643 women — roughly half of whom started menopause within six years and the others, who were more than ten years into menopause.  They also measured hormone levels, i.e. estradiol (naturally circulating estrogen), progesterone, testosterone and a hormone that binds specifically to so-called sex hormones. And, when they conducted analyses for each hormone separately, they found no link between declines in levels of estradiol and cognition in either group. Nevertheless, levels of progesterone were associated with better verbal memory and overall cognition in the women who were six years into the ‘pause.

So, what’s it all about? First of all, years into menopause (which equates to years of estrogen decline) do not appear to make a difference in mental focus. Moreover, it appears that if you are heading toward the HRT train to improve your memory and sharpen your thinking, you may want to hop off the next stop before you run the risk of developing serious diseases; the bottom line is that HRT is not the panacea for sharpening thinking and lessening the hazy menobrain. Additionally, a topical progesterone cream might be just the ticket to a thinking cap that doesn’t slip off over time.

Mind you, this doesn’t mean that estrogen has no effect on the brain whatsoever; that information should be filed under ‘TBD.’ But, if you are thinking HRT and preservation of your precious thinking cap, you may want to think again.


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Looking for a few good men…

Posted by on Nov 1, 2013 in men, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Silhouette of Man Walking in Tunnel. Light at End of Tunnel


No, I am not looking for a date! But I am looking for talented, male writers.

When I started this blog roughly 5 and a half years ago, my goal was to bring menopause out into the open, to promote dialogue, to remove stigma and to provide data-based, useful information about strategies to combat symptoms. Over the years, Flashfree has evolved to address midlife issues, career and self-growth. However, I realized that one critical piece of the puzzle was missing: the male point of view.

As much as I believe that women should rule the world (I kid!), the other half exists and influences how we think, how we behave and how we feel. Likewise, we do the same and sometimes without an intimate understanding of what makes the male psyche tick.

As we approach midlife and middle age, things start to shift, needs change, points of view alter and communication can break down. If my mission is to pave the midlife path and help you avoid some of the bumps and potholes, then I need to find a way to bridge the gap between the sexes.

Hence, Guyside.

And like all good things, Guyside is evolving.

Started over the summer by columnist, Bob LeDrew, Guyside is the male side of midlife and menopause and relationships and growing older. And as of the New Year, we’ll be making a few changes. Currently a once-monthly column, Guyside will now be taking over the Wednesday Bubble slot. And while we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves and a couple of stellar male writers lined up to share some of the spotlight with Bob (as well as the trials and tribulations of this time of life), we are looking for a few good men, namely a few guys between the ages of 50 and 60 who know their way around a sentence or two.

If you are interested in contributing, drop us a note at Guyside is your side; it’s about time we’ve got some testosterone in these here parts!


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Got Low T? Low E? What?!!!

Posted by on Sep 13, 2013 in men | 0 comments

Dollar stacks arranged as a stairway isolated

Do you recall the Low T campaign, you know, the one where Daryl Moose Johnston is able to ‘get back in the game’ once he starts correcting his testosterone deficiency? Well, not only is Darryl suffering from low testosterone levels but newly published research suggests that men like Darryl may also be suffering from ‘Low E,’ as in estrogen. Can you hear the ‘cha ching’ in the background yet?

As researchers continue to unravel the mysteries of how declining testosterone affects men, they’ve discovered that testosterone has a partner in crime: estrogen. In fact, not only does it appear that different men need different levels of testosterone in their body to maintain their lean/fat mass balance, muscle strength and size, but as testosterone levels begin to decline as men age, so does estrogen and with it, men may be left with the accumulating middle tire that many of us women are quite accustomed to. Moreover, findings from the study mentioned above show that both testosterone and estrogen regulate sexual function in men.

A bit of context here just so we are on the same page. This recent bit of information comes from a study of 198 men between the age of 20 and 50 who were healthy and had normal testosterone levels. In men, ‘normal’ equates to ranges that decline as they age. The estrogen component is a bit trickier to explain; more than 80% of circulating natural estrogen in a man’s body comes from the conversion of testosterone. So, as testosterone levels start to decrease, so do estrogen levels. And, when some of the men in the study were provided with a steroid agent that blocks that conversion, they experienced an increase in body fat percentage. Another important point was that fat began to accumulate at testosterone levels well above the levels that would affect muscle strength and size, i.e. 300 to 350 ng. Finally, in both groups of men — those who received various levels of testosterone and those who received various levels of testosterone and a hormone to prevent conversion to estrogen — declines in desire and erectile function similarly declined as testosterone did.

Back in March, I wrote a post about hormone deficiency in men and following the money trail. Mind you, declining levels of testosterone (and by default, estrogen) can have significant consequences for some men that go well beyond sexual dysfunction or a bit of body fat. Consequently, by conducting this research, scientists will be better able to help men whose testosterone levels fall below a certain point, although estrogen replacement comes with its own set of problems (enlarged breasts anyone?). Aside from the obvious benefits, such as a better strategy for interpreting testosterone levels, identifying any negative consequences that might be associated with them and treating them accordingly, one has to wonder if the conversion of testosterone to estradiol or lack thereof, is a harbinger for a future campaign.

Got low T? Got Low E?

Need I say more?


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