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Why do our hormone levels drop as we age?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
We need adequate (not necessarily high) levels of sex hormones to complete the equation of male + female = the next generation of the tribe. But once we're past our reproductive prime, our hormone levels drop. Men lose their testosterone, while women lose their estrogen and experience menopause.

The tangible outcomes: lack of sex drive, insomnia, impotence, weight gain, and countless other potential health problems that can chip away at the quality of your life. But instead of cursing our hormones for not having the stamina to keep up with our lives, we should look at the reasons why our hormone levels dip and drop. Believe it or not, waning hormone levels in both men and women actually benefit society in certain ways.

For example, men needed testosterone to give them the strength (and guts) to fight for land, to compete against warring tribes, to woo mates, and to protect the offspring that resulted. But as they grew older, they didn't need the reproductive effect of testosterone, because the next generation was already in place. And here's where it gets interesting—they also didn't need testosterone's aggressive effect.

If mature tribesmen spent all their time fighting neighboring tribes, they'd jeopardize their own survival and wouldn't live long enough to help the community in another way: through mentoring and passing along wisdom. In essence, that hormone surge in our youth and the hormone drop as we age isn't bad per se; it's actually quite advantageous. For one, it provides an audience for televised golf.

Similarly, from an anthropological perspective, women stop ovulating (and the levels of hormones needed for it drop) so they can graduate from making babies to nurturing the entire community. If you look at brain scans, postmenopausal women think more like men and play a more dominant role in society—because they're not dealing with the hormonal and physical challenges of being fertile (like PMS and pregnancy).
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.