What Is Andropause?
“Andropause” is the lesser known name for what is more widely termed ‘male menopause.’ It is also referred to as “low T” in reference to testosterone, as men age their bodies produce less testosterone. With lower levels of bioavailable testosterone that may be used by the body, tissues that are stimulated by testosterone do not receive the same amount, which can result in physical and psychological changes akin to the female menopause.
In some respects, it can be considered the reverse of puberty in terms of emotional, psychological and sexual behaviour, with many middle-aged men suffering from depression, a loss of confidence and drive, and a diminished libido.
What Does ‘Andropause’ Mean?
‘Andro’ is a Greek prefix, meaning the male or masculine. Andropause is often considered an unhelpful label, one that is attributed to a myriad of mental and physical concerns. Andropause, also sometimes called viropause, refers to the hormonal imbalance of so-called ‘male menopause’.
What Are The Symptoms Of The Male Menopause?
The male menopause is more common than you may think. An estimated 30 percent of men in their 50s will experience the symptoms of andropause, which are associated with low levels of testosterone. The symptoms of ‘Low T’ are indeed a result of a change in the so-called male hormone that is the reason for males’ deep voices, ability to develop muscle mass, along with body hair.
While it may be common knowledge that men produce less sperm as they grow older, the reduced production of testosterone can result in physical as well as psychological symptoms. It is estimated that testosterone levels decrease by ten percent around every ten years after men reach the age of 30.
So What Are The Symptoms Of Male Menopause?
As with many conditions, the symptoms vary from subject to subject. The most common conditions, however, include a diminished sex drive, a lack of motivation and energy, altered moods including depression, irritability and mood swings.
Physically, your body may change too, and become affected by increased body fat, night sweats, a loss of body hair, swollen breasts, shrunken testes and a loss of strength and muscle mass, along with difficulties maintaining an erection. Another symptom of andropause, which is common in menopause, is experiencing hot flushes.
Further to these more general symptoms, rarer cases can include links to osteoporosis and an increased risk of heart problems.
While the aforementioned symptoms may be a result of a testosterone deficiency developed later in life, they can also be unrelated to hormones. Lifestyle factors and psychological concerns that have not been addressed can also contribute to many of the symptoms associated with andropause.
Stress, depression and anxiety can all contribute to a diminished sex drive. The physical and psychological symptoms can also be caused by adjustments to your usual routine, changes to your exercise and diet, the level of alcohol you drink, smoking, and an interrupted sleeping pattern.
How Long Does The Male Menopause Last?
The male menopause can last from five to fifteen years, but the symptoms do not necessarily affect subjects in the same way throughout this duration. Andropause commonly affects men aged 40 to 60, but the symptoms have been known to affect men from the age of 30. The average age is 44, with andropause often associated with the male mid-life crisis.
Treatments For Andropause
Male menopause can be diagnosed by your doctor with a simple blood test to gauge your testosterone levels. The good news is that, for many men, the symptoms are entirely manageable without treatment. The greatest obstacle can often be a lack of communication over the difficulties experienced, with the mental issues left unaddressed because subjects have not openly discussed them with medical professionals.
Generally, the symptoms can be managed with a healthy diet, a regular sleeping pattern and exercise routine, along with taking conscious measures to manage and reduce stress.
So to treat andropause depends on the symptoms that are being experienced. As previously mentioned, the term ‘andropause’ is widely used as an unhelpful umbrella term for concerns that may be unrelated, but also may be individually treated. If by treating andropause you mean the Low T, or the lower production of testosterone, hormone replacement therapy is available and is also considered somewhat controversial. The synthetic testosterone used in such treatment has been associated with risky side effects, and a well-informed decision advised by a medical professional is essential.