When you hear the word “menopause,” you might think it only applies to women. However, men also experience the effects of hormonal changes. Some call it male menopause, and others call it andropause.
The Male Menopause
The terms “male menopause” and “andropause” are widely debated within the medical community, as some researchers don’t find relating this group of symptoms to female menopause accurate. Instead, these symptoms are better associated with androgen decline, testosterone deficiency, and late-onset hypogonadism.
But what exactly is this condition? Simply put, it refers to the slow decline of testosterone levels as one ages. Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in the male body, which plays a key role in sperm production, sex drive, puberty, red blood cell production, and other bodily functions. By the time a man reaches 30, his testosterone levels begin to decrease by 1% every year. This decrease leads to physical, sexual, and psychological problems. While this decline is normal, it can also occur alongside other conditions like diabetes.
Male menopause is different from female menopause for a variety of reasons. Compared to female menopause, where the ovaries stop estrogen and progesterone production, testosterone production only declines and doesn’t completely stop.
Another significant difference between the two conditions is that female menopause affects all women while male menopause only affects 2.1% of males. In addition to that, symptoms of this condition tend to appear more slowly and are less severe. However, they can worsen as you get older. These subtle changes in hormones usually make themselves known by the time a man reaches his mid-40s and can change dramatically after the age of 70.
How to Spot It
The symptoms associated with male menopause vary, but they normally include:
- lack of energy and motivation
- hot flashes
- lowered self-confidence
- weight gain
- feeling weak
- breast development or gynecomastia
- erectile dysfunction
- difficulty concentrating
Those who have the condition may also experience other symptoms like loss of body hair or decreased testicle size. Some studies have even found that the decrease of the male sex hormone is linked to osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle, to the point that even a simple cough can cause a fracture. However, this is one of the rarer symptoms of male menopause.
How Is It Diagnosed?
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms, a visit to the doctor can help you figure out what might be causing it. To diagnose you properly, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you about your symptoms. This will allow them to rule out any other conditions that might be a result of your symptoms. Afterward, your doctor will order a blood test that measures testosterone levels.
A major problem that gets in the way of men getting a proper diagnosis for a certain condition is that is they tend to avoid visiting the doctor in fear of bad outcomes or vulnerability. In other cases, some patients may even withhold information or lie about what symptoms they may or may not be feeling. Some may also be intimidated or uncomfortable talking about sensitive topics like erectile dysfunction, circumcision, and other related issues.
In most cases, you’re likely to be able to manage these symptoms by yourself. However, if your symptoms are affecting your life and causing you problems, it would be best to consider treatment.
Can It Be Treated?
Male menopause can be treated in a variety of ways. For those looking for a more natural treatment, your doctor may recommend making changes to your lifestyle. Having a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are some of the most common treatments for this condition that generally see favorable results.
If you find yourself experiencing depression, your doctor may prescribe the proper medication or recommend therapy to help you cope. There are also non-invasive treatments like GAINSWave, which helps patients who have erectile dysfunction. Another treatment that can help patients with this condition is testosterone replacement therapy, which can help relieve certain symptoms like fatigue and decreased libido. However, like most hormone replacement therapy treatments, they have potential risks and damaging side effects.
While the terms “male menopause” and “andropause” are still under debate, testosterone deficiency is still something that should be taken seriously. It’s also important to remember that symptoms vary from person to person, meaning that someone else’s recommended treatment might not work for you. Make sure to consult your doctor before taking any medication or deciding to undergo a specific treatment.