We all know there is something called menopause in females as it is when a woman stops having periods and can no longer give birth to a child. The average age of women to reach this menopause is about 51 in the USA.
Menopause is more related to women than men usually, but there is such a thing in men called Male menopause. It is when production of hormones or hormone levels start declining.
What is Male menopause?
The Male equivalent of menopause is known as Andropause and also called Testosterone deficiency syndrome.
Andropause or male menopause is the term for the sudden decrease in testosterone levels in men as they age. It mostly occurs in middle-aged to elderly men when testosterone production and plasma concentrations fall.
Testosterone is the male hormone and is produced by testicles and adrenal glands. Testosterone in men is responsible for
- Sexual desire
- Development of make sexual characteristics
- Growth of testicles, penis, and
- Deepening of the voice.
- It is important in physical energy, muscle mass, and also the fight or flight response.
Symptoms of Male menopause or Andropause
About 30% of the total men in their 50s do experience symptoms of Andropause caused by low testosterone levels and some of the symptoms include
- Muscle loss: Usually testosterone helps in building muscle and keeping the body fat low. As the levels of testosterone decrease, it will become difficult to gain muscle, and rather there would be a loss of muscle.
- Erectile dysfunction: Testosterone levels in the body and the amount of blood flow into penis are responsible for erections in men. In Andropause, as there is a sudden decrease of testosterone levels, it can lead to Erectile dysfunction.
- Loss of Libido: Loss of libido or sex drive is one of the most distressing symptoms of Andropause. This is an inevitable part of aging and it can cause significant stress in men.
- Fatigue: Men with andropause will get tired very easily due to a fall of testosterone level as testosterone is associated with the physical energy in the body. Fatigue is very common in men who are in their 40s and 50s and it can be due to Andropause in some cases.
- Mood swings or Depression: Hormonal changes in the body can affect mental health too as by the sudden decrease in the male hormone. This decrease in the male hormone can lead to depression as well.
- Hair loss: Hair loss is a common thing in men, and there are many causes for hair fall and andropause is one of them. While hair loss does not have the same significant physical health implications that some other andropause symptoms, it often has a profound impact on confidence and self-esteem. As such, addressing andropause-related hair loss can be vital for emotional well-being.
- Hot flashes: Hormone fluctuations cause hot flashes in men as well as in women. Hot flashes occur due to the impact of testosterone levels on the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is in charge of sleep cycles, appetite, sex hormones—and body temperature.
The decrease in the testosterone levels in the body is the most important factor for Andropause and some of the causes are
- Obesity: As men age, fat is deposited in the central and upper body in men due to a decrease in growth hormone levels with age. These hormones play a very important role in balancing the levels of testosterone and binding globulin(SHBG).
Normally testosterone slows down the deposition of fat in the abdominal area and if obesity increases then it eventually decreases testosterone levels and can cause Andropause.
- An injury to the testicle: An injury to the testicles can affect the production of testosterone in the body. As the testicles and adrenal glands produce testosterone, if there is an injury or an abnormal functioning of these testicles or adrenal glands then it can severely affect the production of testosterone which can lead to Andropause in middle-aged men.
- Chemotherapy for any kind of cancer: Chemotherapy has a temporary effect on sex life as the changes due to chemotherapy can make one less interested in sex. Rarely Chemotherapy can make a man’s testosterone levels drop and can also affect the nerves that control erection. As Chemotherapy can drop the levels of testosterone in the body it can eventually lead to Andropause in elderly men.
- Pituitary gland disorders: The abnormality in the pituitary gland functioning can impair the release of hormones from the pituitary gland to testicles, affecting normal testosterone production. A pituitary tumor or other type of tumor near the pituitary gland can cause testosterone deficiency which will eventually lead to Andropause in men.
- Opioids(Narcotics) Usage: Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant and that work in the brain to produce a variety of effects, including the relief of pain with many of these drugs.
Opioids can be prescription medications often referred to as painkillers, or they can be so-called street drugs, such as heroin. Opioids like codeine and morphine can cause testosterone to drop that can cause Andropause.
- Steroid abuse: The use of steroids by bodybuilders and athletes have some side effects to it which include smaller testicles and penis and growth in breast tissue. These side effects will result in testosterone deficiency which inturns may lead to male menopause in middle-aged men.
The best way to treat Andropause is by having healthy lifestyle changes with a nutritious diet, exercise, and proper sleep. Andropause can be treated by replenishing the levels of testosterone, via intramuscular injections, gels applied to different parts of the body, or orally.
Age and general health status must always be accounted for when treating andropause. With that said, hormone replacement therapy has been shown to benefit young, elderly, healthy, and unhealthy men. The most significant improvements are seen in the sexual domain.
When coupled with sound nutrition and exercise, however, hormone replacement therapy becomes a powerful treatment with benefits transcending into the physical and emotional domain, too. Improved muscle strength, physical function, lean body mass, and mood are just some of the positive changes that targeted treatment can achieve.
Testosterone replacement therapy(TRT): Testosterone replacement therapy is used to treat low testosterone levels and men with symptomatic hypogonadism. It can be done through gels, injections, and capsules too. It greatly improves the cognitive functioning of the body with improved mood, energy, and quality of life. This is one of the most effective ways of treating Andropause in middle-aged men.
Testosterone gel: This treatment is also applied directly to the skin, usually on the arms. Because the gel may transfer to other individuals through skin contact, a person must take care to wash the gel from the hands after each application. Additionally, unwashed clothing with medication traces should be kept out of reach of children.
Testosterone injections: This treatment involves injections of testosterone like testosterone cypionate and testosterone enanthate in the muscle every 2 to 4 weeks. They may cause mood swings due to changes in testosterone levels but can be effective in treating Andropause.
Testosterone Capsules: Testosterone capsules are taken twice daily after meals, this is yet another option for testosterone replacement. Men with liver disease, poor liver function, serious heart or kidney disease, or too much calcium in their blood should avoid testosterone capsules.
The overall aim of this article is to just raise awareness amongst men and women as male menopause is quite underrated now and is a condition to be concerned about. As this is a condition that prevails in men in their 40s and 50s it will be easy to understand the symptoms of it and then can accordingly treat the condition. The best way to counter Andropause is to have a healthy lifestyle like exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and having a good amount of sleep. Testosterone replacement therapy is the most effective medical way to treat the condition.