I didn’t know anything about having my hormones checked after 30 years old.
Everything changed in my mid 20’s in regards to how I felt physically and mentally.
When I say how I felt, I mean just in general. Any given Tuesday no longer felt like all my Tuesdays for the past 10 years. Or any other day of the week for that matter. My days just felt….different, strange.
One of the first changes that I noticed, was that I had a deep desire to nap every day. It was almost as if my body was just expecting it to happen. My eyes would get heavy and I would just feel a lull sweep over my body AND my mind.
Then I started noticing the brain fog. It would be almost as if I would unexpectedly enter some sort of cranial confusion randomly throughout the day, weaving in and out of above-average cohesiveness like I was bobbing and weaving in a boxing match.
I remember telling myself “maybe this is just how you feel now” and “this is what 30 must feel like”. Neither of those was true, but they were at least a way to justify the oddness of this strange visitation.
Now, those symptoms we annoying, but they were not necessarily red flags raising. I wasn’t necessarily concerned about feeling that way. In fact, I felt like my lifestyle overall was probably a good contributor to my newfound feelings of crap, so I chalked it up to what seemed the most obvious…I just wasn’t taking good enough care of myself. No crisis, but a lack of doing the “right thing” more often.
But then my sex life got affected, and what previously I had been able to chalk up to “turning right when I should have turned left”, now had my attention.
I could feel my apathy towards sex intensifying, and at the same time my body’s “gauge”, if you will, was not what I had come to expect. I was having problems manifesting sexual interest, either mentally or physically (and oftentimes both), around 20% of the time. By the time I hit my later 20’s, I was more around 30-40%.
Looking for a Reason…
I knew something was different…I just couldn’t tell what it was.
I really couldn’t even describe the feeling. There weren’t any specific symptoms that I could easily finger. Everything just seemed…off.
Instead of considering any changes to my daily routines, nutrition, lifestyle, etc…you know…things I could actually change, I started looking at things I couldn’t change.
Obviously (heavy on the sarcasm here), I had a disease. I was dying, and this was just the tip of the iceberg.
I made appointments for scans that I can’t even remember the names of today. I had tests run to see if I had experienced a stroke. CT scans, CAT scans, and random doctor visits, it seems like I was determined to come up with a solution that I couldn’t fix (I talk more about this type of thinking in this article Comfort is a Bad Disguise for Laziness).
Test after test came back negative. The only recurring theme I was told by the medical experts that I visited was that perhaps stress plus lifestyle choices were taking their toll on my body, and it was just…out of gas. I remember being frustrated that these so-called “experts” didn’t know what was obvious…something was very wrong with me, medically!
Accepting Feeling Like Garbage is a Skill
For the next several years I still felt like crap. I had given up on the medical community solving my problems and accepted that perhaps this feeling of drowning and deterioration was simply a side effect of aging. I felt slow and bloated (although, the Sweet Sweat belt did help me with some of the feelings of feeling water-heavy).
I spent a lot of time and energy believing that was the case, which actually takes a fair amount of effort and even more ignorance. It was a skill I developed, and I was good at it. Good at believing I was helpless.
An Unintentional Corner Turned…
At some point during those years, I started to get serious about getting in shape and losing weight. I wasn’t doing it to feel better..no…that never really dawned on me. I was actually doing it out of just wanting to feel better about myself mentally. I just wanted to look better.
After a couple of years, I was really into it. In fact, my wife and I hired a trainer for the first time, and we began to immerse ourselves into the world of health and fitness, which also introduced us to various aspects of the body.
During this transformative time, I began reading about testosterone and its effect on building muscle. I was shocked to learn how much of a part the hormones played in getting into shape and how it is a good idea to get your hormones checked after 30 years old….and inadvertently, I learned how hormones were also connected to general balance with the body.
I thought I was too young for something like this. I had no idea about getting my hormones checked after 30 years old.
Intrigued, I set an appt with my general doctor.
Getting with the Right People…
My general doctor was completely lost when it came to my questions about hormones, testosterone, and estrogen levels. He did say it was important to have my hormones checked after 30, it didn’t seem like it was something that they encountered often. In fact, when I asked about how estrogen affected the male body, he said “I don’t test for that, and even if I did, I wouldn’t know what to do with it.”
We did some blood work, and while a very basic test, the doctor said my testosterone levels were low and put me on a one-shot-a-month plan of testosterone.
When I told one of my buddies about this, he found it to be hilarious. He referred me to a doctor who specializes in men’s health. They told me the importance of getting hormones checked after 30 and that if I didn’t, taking any form of hormone supplement was pointless. Long story short, a few months later, and after a full blood panel and review, I was put on a once-a-week regimen of testosterone, and even a thyroid medicine, as it turned out my thyroid was being a jerk.
After a couple of months, the changes were obvious to me. I went from being tired every day, all day, to having energy from wake to sleep. The fog was gone. My mood was better. My communication with my wife was better. My sex life was better. And the thing that started me down this whole path, getting into shape, got better.
My follow-ups with the men’s doctor have been great. I stay monitored every 6 months with a full blood workup, just to make sure my levels are where they should be, and to look for any needed adjustments. Getting my hormones checked after 30, even though it took a few years, changed my life.
You Can’t Out-Work Hormone Imbalances
I’ve known for a long time that, no matter how hard I work out, a bad diet will sabotage everything I am working for. It’s the notion that you “can’t outwork a bad diet”.
The same is totally true for your hormones. But, hormones are sneaky.
You know when you are eating badly. When you are smashing pizza and ice cream consistently, there is no doubt..you are undoing your hard work.
But hormones aren’t as obvious, and often, they are ignored. We don’t want to acknowledge that we are aging. Recognizing that our body isn’t working the same way it used to SUUUUUUCKS, so we just don’t. We feel embarrassed.
But the reality is, you should be embarrassed NOT to have it checked. Having your hormones checked after 30 should be a no-brainer. If you are willing to spend money on supplements, gym memberships, clothing, etc, and willing to invest time and effort of your life into your fitness, don’t you want it to count?
Were hormones the culprit of all those years of feeling off? I don’t know. All I know is how I feel now.
And I feel incredible.
Rob is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. For the past 10 years, Rob has been navigating the health and fitness landscape to better himself and those around him, focusing on tools such as calorie and macro counting, intermittent fasting, and HIIT training techniques.