It is a medical fact that as women reach the middle age of their lives, their bodies go through a process commonly known as menopause. During menopause, women over the age of 45 typically experience a severe decrease in their estrogen levels as they no longer have menstrual cycles, leading to menopausal symptoms such as mood swings and hot flashes. For most women, menopause can forever change their quality of life and eventually lead to depression and decreased sex drive.
However, women are not the only ones to experience age-related issues due to low or diminished hormone levels. As men reach a certain age, their hormone levels also begin to decline, eventually leading to unwanted physical changes such as decreased muscle mass, low energy levels, and weight gain. So if you’re an aging male that is currently having these symptoms, there’s a good chance that you may be experiencing andropause.
What Is Andropause?
Andropause is an age-related medical condition that occurs as a result of male testosterone deficiency. The name is essentially derived from androgen (also known as testosterone) decline in aging men ranging from the mid-40s to the early 70s. However, the early 40s has also been categorized as the typical men’s menopause age. At times, andropause has also been referred to as “menopause for men” since it involves the change or decline of the testosterone hormone, as men experience symptoms similar to the signs women experience during menopause or perimenopause as they age.
Symptoms of Male Menopause
As menopause causes hormonal imbalances typically specific to women, most people assume that women are the only gender to experience the unwanted effects of hormone imbalance. However, men also experience hormonal imbalance as they get older, leading to changes in behavior and physical function, just like their female counterparts. So the question among the general public typically arises ever so often: “do men go through menopause the same as women?”
For a long time, when most men were having a “mid-life crisis,” it was usually seen as the male version of menopause. Engaging in spontaneous behavior such as buying an expensive car outside of their budget or signing up for dangerous activities were typical signs that a man’s aging physiology was causing changes to their rationale and emotional state. However, even though these decisions could be linked to possible menopause, buying a few material items in hopes of relieving your youth is not quite the same as having a hormonal imbalance.
But the truth is, men can experience some form of “menopause” as their hormones begin to decline after a certain age. In men, drastic changes in androgen or testosterone can cause andropause or “menopause-like” symptoms similar to female menopause, many of which can lead to more severe health conditions as they age. Typically, the most common andropause symptoms include:
- Lowered sex drive
- Difficulty getting an erection
- Mood swings
- Loss of strength or muscle mass
- Increased body fat
- Decreased bone density
Other symptoms of andropause can include high blood pressure and an increased risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular issues. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may want to discuss the possibility of andropause and the use of testosterone replacement therapy for treatment with your physician.
Changes in Testosterone Over the Years
Although andropause causes similar symptoms as menopause, they both affect men and women quite differently. During menopause, a woman’s hormone production is halted completely, whereas men typically will gradually experience testosterone decline over the latter half of their lives. After men turn 30, their testosterone levels usually decline by 1% yearly as they continue to age. As andropause begins to occur, subtle hormonal changes in men can cause a slow deterioration of the body and affect the function of the testes, leading to sexual complications such as premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and an inability to produce sperm. These sexual dysfunctions are usually linked to late-onset hypogonadism, a testosterone deficiency syndrome that can drastically affect a man’s sexual nature as their testosterone levels continue to decline due to age.
Since andropause causes different medical complications than menopause, physicians typically refrain from referring to the age-related decline in testosterone as male “menopause.” Instead, you may hear physicians use the phrase “manopause” (a term created from a 2014 Time Magazine article discussing andropause and its symptoms) to accurately categorize men’s hormonal changes at the age of 40.
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Diagnosing and Treating Male Menopause
Diagnosing andropause or male climacteric, as it is sometimes called, can be difficult at times for many reasons. Typically, low testosterone levels go unchecked in aging men, as many men suffering from low testosterone rarely exhibit any physical symptoms. In addition, many andropause symptoms can be associated with other medical issues such as obesity, making it more difficult for physicians to associate those complications with low testosterone.
A simple blood test can be performed to check if a patient has low testosterone, although it is rarely done unless a man exhibits apparent symptoms. Typically, after an initial test reveals that testosterone levels have declined, your physician will repeat the test to ensure the original results are accurate. If low testosterone is confirmed, the physician will then test your pituitary gland to determine if it is the cause of low testosterone before ruling out any other possible causes.
What Are the Treatment Methods for Andropause?
After an initial blood test and subsequent confirmation that you are experiencing andropause, your physician will discuss possible male menopause treatment, which can vary depending on your medical history. Currently, there isn’t an over-the-counter treatment for andropause. In most cases, physicians recommend testosterone treatment as an effective method to raise testosterone levels to healthy standards.
However, suppose you have other medical conditions such as prostate cancer, heart disease, uncontrolled heart failure, sleep apnea, heart attack, or stroke. In that case, your physician may recommend avoiding testosterone therapy, as undergoing treatment may increase the risk and severity of those medical issues.
The first step of treatment is to address the problem. If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, then ask your physician about possible andropause treatment options, which may include hormone replacement therapy, lifestyle changes, and a customized diet to reverse or prolong anti-aging symptoms.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Since andropause is caused by hormonal imbalance, the most common and effective way to treat the condition is to introduce more of the declining hormone into the body and boost low testosterone levels to optimal standards. With hormone replacement therapy (HRT), patients can utilize hormone creams, pills, patches, and injections to administer a customized dose of the essential hormone to increase their testosterone levels. In doing so, men can build lean muscle mass.
Living a healthy lifestyle is one natural way to treat male menopause symptoms. Physicians will usually create an individualized lifestyle plan that promotes:
- Regular exercise
- Receiving enough sleep
- Reducing stress
- Quitting smoking and drinking
Eating a healthier diet can also help treat andropause. For example, foods such as lean meat, chicken, fish, and vegetables such as soybeans can help increase testosterone production.
How Can We Help Treat Andropause in Men?
So far, the most effective cure for andropause is testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Since andropause is primarily caused by low testosterone and the decline of sex hormones, TRT is one of the few ways a person can introduce more testosterone into their body and increase their testosterone levels to reverse the symptoms of andropause.
However, despite its effectiveness, not everyone will be able to use testosterone replacement therapy. For men with pre-existing medical conditions, TRT can actually increase the risk for more serious medical complications and unwanted side effects. Consulting with a licensed hormone specialist about your medical history can help determine if testosterone therapy is the best treatment method to suit your needs.
At Renew Vitality, we offer effective andropause treatment to aging men through the benefits of comprehensive hormone replacement plans. Our hormone specialists utilize several forms of testosterone replacement therapy as an anti-aging treatment to optimize and help men suffering from age-related symptoms of andropause. Contact us at 1-800-785-3945 to schedule an appointment at any of our hormone replacement clinics in the United States.