What is Male Menopause?
Male Menopause is the more common term for andropause which describes age-related changes in male hormone levels. The same group of symptoms is also known as testosterone deficiency, androgen deficiency, and late-onset hypogonadism.
Male menopause involves a drop in testosterone production in men who are age 50 or older. It’s often affiliated with hypogonadism. Both conditions involve lowered testosterone levels and similar symptoms. In a man, testosterone is a hormone produced in the testes. It does more than fuel the sex drive, it causes the changes during puberty, fuels mental and physical energy, maintains muscle mass, regulates the ‘fight-or-flight’ response, and regulates other key evolutionary features.
Male menopause differs from female menopause in several ways. Firstly, not all men experience it and secondly, it doesn’t involve a complete shutdown of the reproductive organs. However, sexual complications may arise as a result of lowered hormone levels.
Symptoms of Male Menopause
Male menopause can cause physical, sexual, and psychological problems. They typically worsen with age and can include:
- low energy
- depression or sadness
- decreased motivation
- lowered self-confidence
- difficulty concentrating
- insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- increased body fat
- reduced muscle mass and feelings of physical weakness
- gynecomastia, (moobs)
- decreased bone density
- erectile dysfunction
- reduced libido
There may also be swollen or tender breasts, decreased testicle size, loss of body hair, or hot flushes. Low levels of testosterone associated with male menopause have also been linked to osteoporosis – a condition where bones become weak and brittle.
Before puberty, testosterone levels are low. Then they increase with sexually maturity. Testosterone is the hormone that fuels the typical changes involved in male puberty, such as: growth of muscle mass, growth of body hair, lowering of the voice, and changes in sexual functioning and sex drive. With age, testosterone levels will typically begin to drop and tend to decline an average of 1% per year after the age of 30. Some health conditions can cause earlier or more drastic declines in testosterone levels.
Diagnosing and treating male menopause
If you think you’re experiencing symptoms, visit the doctor. They can take a sample of blood to test the testosterone levels. Unless male menopause is causing severe hardship or disrupting life, symptoms can probably managed without specific treatment. The biggest hurdle is talking to someone about the symptoms in the first place as many men are too intimidated or shy to discuss sexual topics with their doctors. The most common type of treatment for symptoms is making healthier lifestyle choices. For example: a healthy diet, regular exercise, getting enough sleep and reducing stress.
If depression is causing issues, a short course of antidepressants can help, especially alongside therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Like for women who are going through their menopause, hormone replacement therapy is another treatment option. However, it’s very controversial as like performance-enhancing steroids, synthetic testosterone can have damaging side effects. For example, in prostate cancer, it can cause cancer cells to grow, so if the doctor suggests hormone replacement therapy, weigh all of the positives and negatives before making a decision.
Remember, it’s normal to experience a decline in your testosterone levels with age. For many men, the symptoms are manageable, even without treatment, but if the symptoms are causing hardship then speak to someone, as just knowing that other men feel the same can help. Join or start the conversation below.