By Bertie Stringer, Naturopathic Nutritionist & Men’s Hormonal Health Expert @DNA
Much has changed in health and wellness over the past 100 years with many significant advances in diagnosis and treatment.
As we come to understand more about exactly how nutrition and lifestyle can both positively and negatively impact our health, we are all trying to make changes to prevent disease and promote wellness. As a result of these developments, life expectancy is also changing, rising slowly but steadily. One thing, though, has not changed — the gender gap. People of both sexes are living longer, but decade after decade, women continue to outpace men.
The Global Men’s Health Crisis
The Who Report in 2019, showed that there is not one country in the world where men outlive women. The average lifespan is about 5 years longer for women than men in the U.S, and about 7 years longer worldwide.
Differing attitudes to healthcare between men and women, help to account for the discrepancy in life expectancy between the sexes, the report suggests. The long-standing belief that men should be strong and self-reliant (and slow to show emotion) is literally killing them, and across the globe years earlier than their female counterparts. This correlation isn’t obviously directly linked to testosterone issues, but it does provide alarming insights into the health gap between men and women.
Most importantly it shines a spotlight on the outdated attitudes that men can’t seek help for their personal health issues such as fertility and testosterone deficiency. Both of which are in the worst state of health than they have ever been historically.
The modern issues with an age-old subject
As testosterone is still unhelpfully considered the chemical symbol of masculinity for centuries now, it’s not really surprising that talking about a lack of it is considered taboo. These beliefs are deep rooted and unfortunately incredibly unhelpful to the modern men. It’s proving to have negative impacts on hormonal health with testosterone levels declining across the world in each generation.
The trend towards rapidly declining testosterone levels
According to research, men’s testosterone levels have dropped at least 20% in the last 20 years with more and more younger men are suffering the effects of low testosterone.
This is not a new trend. Seventy-year-old men in 1987-89 had an average testosterone level that was almost 100 points higher than even 55-year-old men in 2002-04. Meaning that the average 22 year old man today, has an average testosterone level roughly equal to that of a 67 year old man in 2000. Therefore, it’s likely that your testosterone levels are likely to be half of those of your father and undoubtedly significantly less than your grandfather.
With this in mind if testosterone levels decline naturally as we age, these statistics should have remained constant over time. But we know that they aren’t. Far from it. The negative trend seems to be getting worse and happening to men at much younger ages than ever before.
Testosterone plays a crucial role in men’s health.
We know that like women, men suffer age related decline in hormone levels. However the evidence points to the significant drops in testosterone levels over time is more impacted by men’s behavioural and health changes than by aging. In particular obesity and medications being the most direct causes.
External toxins are also wreaking havoc with male hormones.
Chemicals (including parabens and phthalates) in our environment are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc on a daily basis. These are called hormone or endocrine disrupting chemicals – also known as EDC’s
They are undoubtedly playing a role in testosterone levels declining at 10% per decade. This decline has gone hand in hand with sperm health which has taken a similar negative trajectory with very worrying predictions for the next generation.
Only this week (March 2021), leading Epidemiologist Shanna Swan published a book outlining the serious global decline in male fertility stating that;
“The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival” she writes in Count Down.
It comes after a study she co-authored in 2017 found that sperm counts in the west had plummeted by 59% between 1973 and 2011. Swan concluded that testosterone and sperm health are presenting major public health issues and should be treated as such.