Andropause – or male menopause is the condition, experienced usually in older men, of change of life due to hormonal changes. Usually, these changes are a result of gradual reductions in testosterone levels.
Almost everyone is familiar with the idea of menopause, the time at which menstruation ceases.
Leading up to this biological occurrence, women may suffer from mood swings, changes in libido and sexual function, hot flashes and a wide range of other unpleasant symptoms.
While men don’t have a specific event associated with aging the way women do, they still have to deal with the same kinds of symptoms.
A reduction in male hormones with age is known as andropause or male menopause. It can have a significant effect on a person’s quality of life.
It can even cause serious health problems, like loss of bone density leading to osteoporosis.
Here’s a look at andropause, its increasing acceptance in the medical community, and what can be done to keep it from taking over your life.
These male hormones are responsible for regulating sex drive, hair growth, metabolism, energy levels and a host of other basic functions.
As we men age, production of these hormones slows down a lot.
Men can become deficient in androgens as early as 35 years of age, with levels dropping by about one percent every year.
By the time we reach middle age, however, we can experience severe symptoms that make our lives much more difficult.
Symptoms of Andropause
Many men find themselves feeling irritable, depressed or more tired than usual.
Men who are dealing with andropause often have a reduced libido or suffer from trouble maintaining an erection.
Men have been experiencing these symptoms for thousands of years, but their problems haven’t gotten as much attention as more obvious female menopausal issues.
The first mainstream study on the condition wasn’t published until the 1940s.
Even after doctors drew attention to the androgen and the problem deficiencies that are related to it, most men went without treatment.
Medical organizations and many doctors still don’t recognize the tiredness and other problems associated with andropause as legitimate medical problems.
The good news is that in recent years, more medical professionals have started to provide treatment for men who are going through andropause.
Some doctors refer to the problem as symptomatic late onset hypogonadism, or SLOH, androgen deficiency of the aging male, or ADAM, or partial androgen deficiencies in aging males (PADAM.)
Don’t let these acronyms confuse you. They all refer to male menopause and they all use the same treatment techniques.
Male Hormone Supplementation
One of the most common ways to deal with reduced male hormone production is to supplement with hormone replacement therapy.
This strategy is commonly used for female menopause, as well as for men who have suffered injury to or loss of their testes.
Men who receive testosterone supplementation may get acne, feel more aggressive, suffer from mood swings or develop infertility.
Men who receive male hormone supplementation are also at an increased risk for breast and prostate cancer.
Artificial supplementation isn’t the only way you can treat an androgen deficiency.
Alcohol consumption can also have a detrimental effect, increasing the risk of sexual dysfunction and potentially affecting male hormone levels.
Other substances, including vitamins C and L-arginine, and zinc, can work to increase testosterone production and even out libido levels.
Exercise plays a big part in the effects of aging on men, too.
Exercising just a few hours a week can help men who are going through andropause feel much more normal.
Men can also get a lot of benefits out of reducing their stress levels.
The decrease in hormone levels associated with aging can make it harder to deal with job pressure and other stressors.
Making a point of reducing your stress level, cutting back on difficult work, and taking the time to relax can help you avoid depression and feel less irritable.
That can lead to an overall improvement in your quality of life, no hormones required.
It’s not easy to be diagnosed with male menopause.
A lot of men who have an androgen deficiency will instead be diagnosed with depression.
They may receive anti-depressant drugs that treat this specific symptom, but this medication won’t do anything about decreased libido and other related problems.
More and more doctors are recognizing the importance of male hormones like testosterone in later life.
Since up to 1/3 of men experience androgen deficiencies by the age of 50, it’s important for patients to get ggod medical advice and ask the right questions of their health professional.