Andropause, which is more commonly known as “male menopause” is very much real and is used to describe changes related with age in hormone levels in men.(1) The symptoms of male menopause can also be categorized as androgen deficiency, testosterone deficiency and late-onset hypogonadism.
At What Age Does Male Menopause Occur?
A man is said to be undergoing male menopause when there is a decrease in the production of testosterone in men aged 50 or above. This condition is commonly associated with hypogonadism, as both of these conditions comprise of similar symptoms along with decreased levels of testosterone.(5)
The Role of Testosterone in the Male Body(6)
Testosterone is a hormone, which is produced in testes in men. Along with charging up the sex drive testosterone is also responsible for the increased changes during the puberty along with increasing physical and mental energy, regulating the fight-or-flight response; maintaining the muscle mass and vital evolutionary features.(5)
Changes in Testosterone Over The Years
The testosterone levels are low in a boy before puberty and its levels increase when there is sexual maturation. Testosterone is the main hormone responsible for increase in the changes occurring in male puberty that are: growth of body hair; growth of muscle mass; changes in sexual functioning and deepening of voice.
According to studies, as a man ages, the testosterone levels often start to decline typically on an average of 1% per year after a man has turned 30.(3,4) Certain health conditions can cause drastic or premature reduction in the testosterone levels of a man.
What are the Symptoms of Male Menopause?(2,7,8,9)
Male menopause consists of physical, psychological and sexual issues that worsen as a man gets older. Some of the common symptoms of male menopause are: depression, decreased energy levels; low self-confidence; insomnia; decreased motivation; increased body fat; problems with concentration; physical weakness; decrease in muscle mass; gynecomastia, erectile dysfunction; reduced bone density; infertility and low sex drive.
A man can also have tender or swollen breasts, hot flashes, reduced testicle size and loss of body hair. The drop in the testosterone levels in male menopause is also related to osteoporosis; a condition where the bones become brittle and weak. However these symptoms are not that common and usually affect men at about the same age as a woman who is starting menopause.
What is the Difference Between Male Menopause and Female Menopause?
There are many differences between male and female menopause, the main being not all men experience menopause; whereas all females experience menopause.
There is no complete shutdown of the male reproductive organs in male menopause; whereas, after a woman attains menopause, her reproductive organs cease to function. However, in case of male menopause, a man can experience sexual complications due to the decrease in the lowered testosterone levels.
Treatment Options for Male Menopause
A simple blood test to check for testosterone levels can diagnose or confirm male menopause.
As far as treatment of male menopause is concerned, the symptoms are mostly manageable and medical attention is only needed when the menopause is disrupting the life of the patient. The biggest problem men find is discussing about symptoms to their doctor, as they feel shy or hesitant in discussing sexual topics with doctors.
Lifestyle Modifications for Treating Male Menopause
Making healthier lifestyle choices is the best treatment for male menopause and these consist of following healthy diet; sleeping well; regularly exercising and managing the stress levels.
Adopting these lifestyle habits is beneficial to all men irrespective of whether they are going through male menopause or not. For symptoms such as depression or insomnia, your doctor will prescribe the required medicines.
Hormone Replacement Therapy for Treating Male Menopause
Another treatment option for male menopause is hormone replacement therapy, which is very controversial, as it consists of damaging side effects, such as increased risk for cardiovascular diseases and prostate cancer.(10) If the patient is suffering from prostate cancer and takes hormone replacement therapy for male menopause, then this can cause growth of the cancer cells. It is important to discuss all the pros and cons with your doctor regarding hormone replacement therapy and make an informed decision.
How is Life for Men Going Through Male Menopause?
Male menopause is something, which is a completely natural phase in a man consisting of decrease in the production of testosterone, as they get older. Majority of the times, the symptoms of male menopause are manageable and do not need treatment and you can continue to live your life and do all the things like you did before. In case where the symptoms are disrupting your daily routine, your doctor will guide you with regards to treatment to make them manageable and enable you to live a normal and healthy life.
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