Men Sexuality and "reproductive" problems

by Steven H. Horne, RH (AHG) and Kimberly Balas



x aCTIONMale sexuality is under assault. Here are some of the statistics that back up this assertion. The average man's sperm count is half what it was 70 years ago. Half of all American men have problems with impotency (the politically correct term now is erectile dysfunction). Prostate cancer is the number one cancer among men (one in three men is expected to get it) and testicular cancer is on the rise. 60 percent of men over 40 have prostate problems.
Birth defects of the penis and undescended testicles are on the rise too, so the problems are not just affecting older men. Professor Skakkebaek at Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, said: There is evidence that male reproductive function seems to have deteriorated considerably during the past 4 to 5 decades. Similar reproductive problems are on the rise in wild animals the causes are clearly environmental. The truth is that environmental toxins are disrupting the balance of male hormones and chemically "castrating" men.

Masculinity is under attack on two other fronts as well. For starters, the nutritional deficiencies caused by the modern diet are weakening men's bodies through chronic disease. Many men suffer from back problems, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and other chronic problems that reduce and inhibit their natural masculine strength. But, this is not all.
The third prong of the attack against masculinity is a social one. Being manly has in many ways become politically incorrect. Men are encouraged to be sensitive and feeling and suppress their natural characteristics to be aggressive and tough (I don't mean that in the violent sense, but in the sense of doggedly pursuing their goals and defending what they value).
Becoming a man is not simply a function of going through puberty. Becoming a man has traditionally been seen as the transition from having the values and attitudes of a boy to acquiring the values and attitudes that we instinctively recognize as manly. This transition requires healthy masculine role models who can guide boys through the rites of passage that turn them into men. Most men in modern society have not had healthy male rites of passage. The combined result of this three-fold attack is a loss of healthy male energy in modern society. A large percentage of guys are overweight, weak, impotent and/or infertile and, in general, suffer from a lack of masculine self-confidence.

So, it's time to defend our right to be men. In this article, I will address how we can defend ourselves against these assaults on our manhood. I'll talk about the environmental toxins that are reducing our testosterone levels and reproductive health and the nutritional deficiencies that are weakening our bodies. I'll also talk about how to reacquire the values and attitudes of real manliness and counteract the propaganda that is convincing men to act like boys, instead of encouraging boys to act like men.

Environmental Toxins

There are a number of chemicals that reduce male health and fertility.

Xenoestrogens
are environmental chemicals that have an estrogenic effect, meaning they attach to estrogen receptors in the body and stimulate them. In women, xenoestrogens cause estrogen overload and result in over stimulation of breast and uterine tissue. In men, xenoestrogens disrupt the natural balance between male and female hormones, causing men to lose some of their manly traits.
For starters, xenoestrogens are believed by some researchers to be the primary cause of a world-wide decrease in male fertility. They are both reducing male sperm count and reducing the quality of male sperm.

Xenoestrogens are also believed to be a major factor in the rise of prostate diseases. The prostate has estrogen receptors, so these chemicals over stimulate prostate tissue resulting in the overgrowth of the prostate, a condition known as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH for short). They also contribute to prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) and prostate cancer. Since testosterone helps a man burn fat and build lean muscle, xenoestrogens also contribute to obesity in men. They may cause men to develop more breast tissue (a very common problem with modern men) and to experience erectile dysfunction (we've become the Viagra® generation). Clearly, any man who values his manhood ought to do all he can to avoid xenoestrogens.

Avoiding Xenoestrogens

Pesticides and other agricultural chemicals are a primary source of these xenoestrogens, which is one reason why many farmers have developed serious weight problems in spite of the physical labor they perform. Men ought to be eating organically grown produce wherever possible and making sure that regular produce is properly washed to remove as many of these chemicals as possible.
Since plastics are another major source of xenoestrogens, soft plastic containers should be avoided in favor of glass or stainless steel. At the very least, use hard plastics instead of soft ones. Since heat releases these chemicals, don't microwave food in plastic containers or put hot food into plastic containers. Also, don't give your children, especially your sons, soft plastic toys. They will chew on them.

Plastic baby bottles should also be avoided. One of the chemicals in plastics that has been shown to inhibit testosterone and damage male reproductive organs is phthalates. In addition to being used to soften plastics (hence the reason for avoiding soft plastics), phthalates are used in perfumes, hair sprays, lubricants and wood finishers. They are also responsible for that new car smell as they are volatile (which means heat releases them). About a billion pounds of materials containing phthalates are produced worldwide each year.

Q. What's your protocol for helping men with BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) ?

Anytime you have something with inflammation involved, it will be affecting all areas of the body as well. I use a high quantity of IF Relief for most people since the underlying root cause of most diseases is inflammation. Men's Formula is a good adjunct to this too. It helps with the feeling of frequent urination. Supplements like Saw Palmetto and KB-C are also helpful here.

The Feminizing Effect of Fluoride

Another compound, which may be causing a drop in testosterone levels, is fluoride. High doses of fluoride are known to suppress testosterone production. A study published in Environmental Research in 2003 suggested that even low levels could reduce the amount of available testosterone. Only 2-3% of the testosterone in the body is active, so if fluoride reduces the active testosterone, this is very significant. The fluoride issue is of special interest to me. On the advice of our dentist, my mom gave me fluoridated water for several years. She crushed up the fluoride tablets the dentist gave her and put them in pitchers of water for me to drink. I did not start puberty until I was 16 and did not have to shave every day until I was nearly 20, so my passage through puberty was delayed. Also, I developed a number of unmanly gestures and attitudes that I learned caused a few people to think I might be gay. I now believe that this was the result of the fluoride my mom gave me.

When I became aware of this a few years ago, I did some fluoride detoxification and I really felt a difference in my masculine self-confidence. Other people noticed this difference, too. Since a large number of water sources in the United States are now fluoridated, this may be part of the reason for the growing male reproductive problems mentioned earlier.

The bottom line is: avoid fluoride! In fact, avoid the other halogens, chlorine and bromides, too. These chemicals displace iodine from the body and reduce thyroid function. Thyroid function is tied in with reproductive function as the thyroid hormone is needed to combust the lipids that are the basis for all sex hormones. So, reduced thyroid function causes reduced output of reproductive hormones.

Phytoestrogens

Considering the problems men are having with reduced testosterone levels due to these environmental chemicals, it would seem wise that men also reduce their exposure to phytoestrogens.
Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogens. While phytoestrogens may be beneficial for women as they do help to block the more powerful xenoestrogens, they probably aren't a good idea for men who are trying to balance their hormone levels. One of the foods that may be particularly problematic for men is soy.

There is research that demonstrates that genistein, one of the phytoestrogens in soy, decreases male fertility. There is also research that suggests that soy products in animal feed can reduce the fertility of male animals. Occasional use of soy products (2-3 times per week) is not a problem, but soy is increasingly being added to many foods and vegetarians often consume very large amounts of it. Many body builders claim it is harder to build muscle on soy-based protein powders, too. Based on what I've read, I've decided to limit the amount of soy in my diet. Instead, I am opting to include more organic, grass-fed beef in my diet. I've done this even though I'm an "A" blood type and soy is supposed to be a beneficial for me and red meat is an avoid. I've found that as long as I don't eat large portions of the grass-fed beef (no more than 2-4 ounces) and take protease enzymes with it, that I actually do better than I did when I ate more soy.

Another interesting plant that has strong phytoestrogenic effects is hops. Hops has been traditionally used to decrease sexual desire in men and increase it in women. According to Stephen Harrod Buhner in his book The Natural Testosterone Plan, beers were originally made from a variety of medicinal plants, many of them possessing testosterone-enhancing action. The decision to require that beer be made from hops was made under pressure from the Protestant reformers who wanted to remove sexually stimulating herbs from beer. They chose hops because it is a sedative that makes a person sleepy and reduces male sex drive. Men who handle hops during the brewing process can actually develop impotence in middle age just from handling the plant because the estrogens in hops will transmit directly through the skin.

Enhancing Male Testosterone Levels

Just like women have more than one form of estrogen, men have more hormones than testosterone that contribute to our masculinity. These hormones, which include testosterone, androstenedione (andro), androstenediol, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and DHEA, are collectively known as androgens. The ratio of androgens and estrogens in the body is important. Androgens like testosterone are not just important for a man's sex drive. They are also important for men's overall health. Testosterone helps a man put on muscle and burn fat. It elevates a man's mood to keep him from becoming depressed. It protects him from heart disease and cancer. Testosterone also makes a man more creative and imaginative. So, the bottom line is having a high level of testosterone is good for a man.

Most of the testosterone in a man's body is bound. This means that it's not immediately available for use. Only a small percentage, about 2-3%, is free testosterone. As men age, levels of free testosterone decline. This is responsible for a shift in middle age men called andropause. Men naturally become a little less aggressive and a little more sensitive. However, if men start making, or are exposed to, too many estrogens and/or have too little free testosterone, this shifts the androgen/estrogen balance and causes numerous health problems like prostate swelling, infertility, weight gain, etc.

So, how can men increase their testosterone levels for a better androgen/estrogen balance?

Well, for starters, looking at attractive women stimulates testosterone production. That's probably part of the reason married men tend to live longer than single men. So, don't feel guilty that it makes you feel good to see a pretty girl, it is perfectly normal.
Exercise also helps free testosterone for use, particularly exercising the legs with resistance training.
Eating organically raised, grass fed beef also enhances testosterone in men. Actually, beef in general enhances testosterone, but commercially raised beef just is not as healthy as grass-fed beef.

There are also testosterone-enhancing herbs and supplements men might consider. According to Steven Buhner the pollen of pine trees is one of the strongest androgenic herbs that increases levels of free testosterone in the blood. It is used in Chinese medicine as a rejuvenating tonic, but is not a widely used remedy in the United States. Testosterone-enhancing herbs that most men would have
easy access to include, Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), American ginseng (P. quinquefolia), eleuthero root (Eleutherococcus senticosus), tienchi ginseng (P. notoginseng) and puncture vine (Tribulus terrestris). These herbs can be useful tonics for men to take as we get older because they help stimulate the production of androgens and slow the effects of aging in men.

There are also some useful supplements for enhancing androgens. These include:
Pregnenolone
DHEA
Zinc
Pantothenic acid
Saw palmetto and nettle root (found in Men's Formula) help inhibit androgens from converting into estrogens, which can also help male hormone balance.

Q. Do you have any suggestions for men with erectile dysfunction? What is your approach to this problem?

Fifty percent of men ages 40-70 experience some degree of erectile dysfunction (ED). There are two basic types. Psychological ED is mentally and emotionally based, while physiological ED is due to some form of physical or medical problem. The first type, psychological ED, can be related to many issues, such as depression, performance anxiety, marital stress or relationship problems, marital boredom, life crisis, financial difficulties, religious repression or some type of mental illness. This requires counseling or emotional healing work. Physiological ED becomes more common as men get older. It has four major causes: vascular, neural, hormonal and drug induced. The appropriate approach will depend on the cause, so let's look at each of these causes and what to do about it.

1. Vascular causes of ED
This has to do with blood flow. It takes blood flow to the penis to get an erection, so any condition that impedes blood flow can cause ED. This includes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), hypertension, inflammation of the blood vessels and diabetes. Other factors that impede blood flow could be injury or surgery to the pelvic or abdominal area and smoking. Smoking reduces genital blood flow. If circulation is the cause, the l-arginine found in Solstic Cardio can be helpful. L-arginine acts as a precursor for nitric oxide, which dilates arteries and small blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and increases blood flow to the genital area. A small 1994 study, in which men took 2.8 grams of arginine every day for two weeks, showed a significant improvement in ED.
Another study found that almost three-quarters of 178 men with low sperm counts had significantly higher counts after taking four grams of arginine daily for three months. Most recently, a study published in 1999 followed 50 men with erectile dysfunction for six weeks. Among those who took a high daily dose of l-arginine (5 grams), 31 percent reported significant subjective improvements in sexual function, compared to only 12 percent of those taking a placebo. Mega-Chel taken between meals can also be very helpful.

2. Neural causes of ED
Nerve damage from disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and strokes affect the brain's ability to respond to sexual stimulation and cause erectile dysfunction. ED is common in men undergoing surgical treatment for prostate enlargement or cancer. Essential fatty acids play a key role in nerve repair, so supplementation with good fats is essential. St. John's wort can stimulate nerve regeneration and repair. Adaptagens and nervines are very important, too. Nervous Fatigue Formula, Adaptamax and Suma Combination are a few of the remedies to consider.

3. Hormonal causes of ED
Low levels of androgens, such as testosterone, are sometimes a component of erectile dysfunction. Testosterone levels decline about 1 percent each year in men, which may contribute to erectile dysfunction with aging. Replacement of androgens can sometimes be helpful in those with age-related erectile dysfunction. Saliva hormone testing can help establish where hormone levels currently are so they can be brought into balance. Some of the remedies to consider include the following. DHEA converts into testosterone and can help with ED. Pregnenolone can also increase testosterone levels. X-A and X-Action have a positive influence on ED. Sarsaparilla helps with testosterone production. I also use Men's Formula, DHEA-M and liver cleansing to help balance androgens.


4. Drug or medication-induced erectile dysfunction
Drugs that interfere with erectile function include some varieties of anti-hypertensives, SSRIs (like Prozac), sedatives, and beta-blockers. Beta-blockers such as propranolol, atenolol, and others, are some of the most common medications that cause erectile dysfunction. SSRIs, used in the treatment of depression, cause erectile dysfunction mostly due to their effect on serotonin metabolism.

Serotonin has an inhibitory effect on erectile function and sexuality. Surprisingly, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen also cause erectile dysfunction. Regardless of the reason for taking them, painkillers classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) apparently increase the likelihood that middleaged and elderly men will develop erection difficulties.
In 1994, a thousand men, between 50 and 70 years of age, without erectile dysfunction participated in a survey regarding their erectile function and medication usage. When the questionnaire was re-administered five years later, the investigators found that the erectile dysfunction rate among NSAID users was nearly triple that of nonusers.

Alcohol's negative affect on sex drive increases with age. Researchers in India found that men being treated for alcoholism had lower testosterone levels and more sperm abnormalities than non-drinkers did. They also had a far higher rate of erectile dysfunction (ED) - 71 percent, versus seven percent of abstainers. Therefore, a natural remedy for erectile dysfunction is to reduce alcohol intake, particularly beer. Beer contains hops which is a potent estrogenic plant. There are other causes of ED besides these major causes. For example, sitting on a bicycle too long. Men who log several
thousand miles a year on their mountain bikes suffer scrotal damage that could reduce their fertility or cause ED.

Nutrition and Reproductive Health

Although I won't spend as much time on this topic, poor nutrition is also playing a role in reducing masculine strength and energy. In the 1930s, Francis Pottenger conducted experiments on nutrition using cats. I won't go into detail about the studies, but in the groups of cats that were fed diets of either cooked meat or pasteurized milk, there was a decline in both general and reproductive health. Fertility decreased and female cats became aggressive and mean, while male cats became docile. Infertility and miscarriage were serious problems in the second generation of cats fed improper diets, and homosexuality also started to appear in the second and third generation cats. There was no fourth generation, because reproduction ceased. Pottenger's experiments (discussed in his book, Pottenger's Cats) show that nutritional deficiencies alone can cause reproductive changes in both male and female animals. The reproductive glands do not function independently from the rest of the body, so general good health is needed for reproductive health. A medical doctor who is a good friend of mine, Dr. Hugo Rodier, has commented that there ought to be warning labels on high sugar foods that say, Warning: May Cause Erectile Dysfunction. He feels this would probably help men avoid these very destructive refined carbohydrates and the many health problems they cause.

Unfortunately, many men don't know how to cook or have anyone in their lives who prepares healthy meals for them. As a result, many men rely heavily on fast food which damages their health and virility. So, we men need to wake up and realize that this fast food is destroying our health and make wiser choices about what we eat. I don't want to go into a lengthy discourse on nutrition here, but I suggest you watch the movie Super-Size Me and you'll see what I'm talking about. Then get the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and learn how to eat in a way that builds the strong, masculine body you want to have.

Q. What does a high PSA count mean and how do you reduce it?

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein originally found in semen, the fluid that carries sperm. Normally, PSA is made in cells of the prostate called epithelial cells. It helps to keep the semen in its liquid form. Small amounts of PSA, made by the prostate, get into the circulation and can be measured in the blood. Certain prostate conditions, including prostate cancer, can cause high levels of
PSA in the blood. PSA itself does not have any known effect outside the prostate; even high levels of PSA are not directly harmful. High PSA levels in the blood, however, may be a sign of a prostate problem, perhaps even a serious one.

The most common condition leading to a high PSA is benign (noncancerous) enlargement of the prostate, called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The key is to have enough good fats in the diet for hormone combustion. I use Master Gland, Men's Formula and IF Relief for this problem. A high PSA count can also be caused by infection. Using the Silver Shield can address the beginning stages and even lower numbers on blood tests. In addition to prostate problems, some medical treatments can affect PSA levels.

Do you have concerns about:
Erectile Dysfunction? Prostate Problems? Infertility? Prostate Cancer Prevention?
Discover natural solutions to these common male health concerns in The Marvelously Healthy Male: Natural Health Care for Men