Men, like women, also undergo hormonal changes as they age in a process many physicians term andropause. In men, this is the decrease in testosterone levels that usually happens at a very gradual pace. The majority of men start to experience testosterone level declination around the age of thirty (30). Testosterone is the hormone produced by the male reproductive organ, the testes, or testicles. It is responsible for muscle mass maintenance, adequate RBC (red blood cells) leveling, sense of well-being, drive and motivation, bone density, skin collagen, and sexual and reproductive functions. Other aspects that may contribute to lower testosterone levels include traumatic injuries to the brain, past concussions, and previous use of anabolic steroids.
Today, let us determine what andropause truly is and whether it is a myth or reality as we discuss its symptoms and treatments.
Male and Andropause: Myth or reality?
Andropause is related to age-appropriate hormone changes in men and is quite different from menopause, its counterpart in women. Understanding the signs, symptoms, and treatment options properly can matter big in dealing with it eventually.
Hormone changes are a normal and natural part of the aging process. Unlike the more dramatic reproductive hormone changes women experience during menopause; however, sex hormone changes occur gradually in men. Here’s what you need to know.
Debunking the Myth
“Male menopause” is the term that has been used to describe the decrease in testosterone levels related to men as they age. However, age-related changes in sexual hormones are different in women and men.
In women, the term is used in menopause and is the end of ovulation and the plummet of hormone production happening in a relatively shorter period. In men, testosterone and other hormone production start their decline over many years with unclear consequences most of the time. This gradual decline of the levels of testosterone is called late-onset hypogonadism or age-related low testosterone. This occurrence is what they call andropause.
Recognizing the Reality
On average, testosterone levels in men decline about 1% yearly after turning forty (40). However, most older men still retain normal range levels of testosterone, with only an estimated range of 10-25% that have considered low levels.
Andropause or low levels of testosterone in older men are often unnoticed. Doctors can monitor testosterone levels through a blood test; however, these tests aren’t done regularly. In addition, most men who have low testosterone levels experience no symptoms. In addition, the signs and symptoms related to low testosterone aren’t specific to low testosterone. A person’s age, medication use, or other conditions, such as having a body mass index of 30 or higher, may also contribute to this. Still, common signs and symptoms that suggest low testosterone include:
- Decreased spontaneous erections or erectile dysfunction
- Reduced sexual activity and desire
- Height loss, low trauma fracture, or low bone mineral density
- Hot flushes or sweats
- Breast discomfort or swelling
Other symptoms like decreased energy, motivation, confidence, depressed mood and poor concentration may also contribute to low testosterone levels. A possibility of experiencing increased sleepiness, sleep disturbances, mild unexplained anemia, reduced muscle bulk and strength, and increased body fat are also factors considered.
Experts recommend only testing older men for low testosterone once they manifest signs or symptoms. Once an initial test shows low testosterone, they should repeat the test for confirmation of the results. Once confirmed, further testing of the pituitary gland is highly recommended in determining possible causes and ruling out other present hormone deficiencies. The pituitary gland is the kidney-bean-sized gland found at the base of your brain. The endocrine system consists of all the glands that produce and regulate hormones, including the pituitary gland.
Recommendations on andropause for men with age-related low testosterone may differ per individual. Last year, the American College of Physicians recommended doctors start considering testosterone treatment in men, especially those with sexual dysfunctions, to help improve their sexual function, explaining the risks and benefits involved. In 2018, the Endocrine Society suggested andropause therapy for men with age-related low testosterone who manifested signs and symptoms related to low testosterone levels. Some experts also offer recommended testosterone treatments to men with age-appropriate low testosterone without showing signs or symptoms.
If you believe you are experiencing andropause and choose to start testosterone therapy, talk to your doctor so they can explain the different ways of testosterone administration, level targeting, and follow-up testing. For some, testosterone therapy alleviates bothersome testosterone deficiency signs and symptoms. For others, these benefits aren’t quite so clear-cut and can come with possible risks.
Further research is still needed, although testosterone therapy has already been associated with the stimulated growth of metastatic prostate and breast cancer. Testosterone therapy for andropause may also increase health risks like heart attack and stroke and significantly contribute to the formation of venial blood clots.
A doctor will likely recommend against starting testosterone therapy for andropause if they deem you infertile, which can be important shortly. In addition, having conditions like breast or prostate cancer, untreated severe obstructive sleep apnea, uncontrolled heart failure or thrombophilia, or a recent heart attack or stroke may also make you unfit for this therapy.
But if you think you might be experiencing andropause already and have low testosterone, the best thing to do is consult your doctor about these signs and symptoms, how testing will start, and what possible treatment options are excellent and available for you. Your doctor can surely help you weigh out the pros and cons of testosterone therapy.
Symptoms and signs of andropause may include the following:
- Sexual function changes
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Disturbances in sleeping
- Loss of motivation
- Mental clarity decrease
- Mood swings and changes
- Muscle mass loss
- Increase in anxiety or depression
- Increased size of the prostate
- Increase in urination frequency
On the other hand, these are some benefits of andropause therapy and hormone optimization for men:
- Mood and sense of well-being improvement
- Regaining drive and motivation
- Improvement in memory, focus, and cognition
- Increase in lean muscle mass and athletic performance
- Improvement of quality of sleep
- Increase in sex drive and sexual function improvement
- Improvement of cardiovascular health
- Increase in bone density
- Decrease in visceral fat and cholesterol levels
- Reduction in risk of having Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- You start to feel like yourself again
Andropause: It’s a Reality!
As much as we want not to give any thought to this matter, andropause is not a myth but a reality that men should take note of with utmost importance. Knowing the signs and symptoms associated with this decline in testosterone levels can help live life better even in dealing with this clear condition. Andropause is something to take seriously, so talk to your doctor and still live your life the way you want it to be.
Still not convinced that andropause is a reality and no longer a myth? Are you experiencing the signs above and symptoms yourself? Don’t worry! Our great friends from Absolute Health and Wellness can help you out today! Visit them now!