Most people recognize that women got dealt a shitty hand when it comes to hormonal cycles.
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Governed by changing levels of the hormone estrogen, women experience a roughly 28-day cycle that allows for the production of eggs, and for the preparation of the uterus for pregnancy. But it produces a slew of nasty side-effects ranging from acne, physical discomfort, to changes in mood.
But most people are unaware that men also experience a (much less intense) hormonal cycle — a daily fluctuation of testosterone.
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According to Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, a clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School, the author of Why Men Fake It: The Totally Unexpected Truth About Men and Sex, and the founder of Men’s Health Boston, his own private medical practice, “Normal men have a 24-hour cycle where they have the highest testosterone levels in the morning and the lowest late at night.” In fact, he added, some people think this is one of the reasons for morning erections, or “morning wood.”
The cycle is more pronounced in young men, but even then its effects are likely not noticeable.
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The hormonal variations “happen in healthy younger men, but even when the levels are lowest during the day, they are not that low,” Dr. Morgentaler told BuzzFeed science. Once men hit the age of 40, he added, this hormonal variation becomes even less pronounced.
In healthy men, these hormonal fluctuations are so minimal that they pass by without anyone noticing.
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“It’s debatable whether it changes any behavior in a way that we can tell or have guys feel,” Morgentaler explained. He also added that it is unclear what purpose or significance the male daily cycle serves.
But that doesn’t mean men are not hormonal creatures! Low testosterone in men can lead to irritability, blunted emotions, and other mood changes.
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“Testosterone does have an important relationship to mood. Men who are deficient in testosterone will frequently say their mood is blunted, that they are not engaged in life,” Dr Morgentaler explained. “They can become cranky.” They can also get more emotional, he said. He gave an example of a patient of his who had low testosterone who reported that he “lost it” whenever he watched a boy scout commercial.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to lower than normal levels of testosterone.
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People who have problems sleeping often have lower levels of testosterone, he said, as do people who are diabetic or overweight. There are also interesting environmental connections between how much sun you get, how much vitamin D you have, and testosterone levels. More sun often means more testosterone.
Low testosterone is a common condition in men over the age of 45, but it is easily treatable.
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A deficiency of testosterone is actually pretty common,” Morgentaler said, “If you look at men 45 years and older, more than a third of men might have levels below the normal range.” It can be treated with testosterone gels, injections, pellets, or patches, he explained.
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