Andropause is male menopause. As females experience menopause, this marks the end of their reproductive cycle. But men experience this condition quite differently. This range of symptoms and changes happens while they grow older. Still, some compare these effects to menopause. This condition appears as “andropause” in some literature. Although this term is quite misleading, defining these symptoms, causes, and treatments is still unclear.
An article published in the Social History of Medicine journal stated that male menopause, or andropause, was much discussed between the late 1930s to the mid-1950s. However, researchers nowadays advise that andropause remains a non-useful diagnosis without establishing clear boundaries. Additionally, aging still contributes to the male body, such as normal testosterone levels.Today, we discuss the aging effects on male hormones and the steps necessary to reduce the aging impact on men’s health.
“Male Menopause”: Is it real?
As men age, they also experience a range of physical changes. However, these changes do not qualify as andropause or a form of menopause. Age advancement does affect men’s sex-specific hormone levels related to the process of female menopause, although not that accurate.Instead, researchers associate these symptoms with ADAM or androgen decline in the aging male or a condition of late-onset hypogonadism. This condition happens naturally when gonads, or organs of sex cell production, start to age, deteriorate and lose their primary functions.
However, this condition only affects 2.1% of the male population, compared to menopause, a natural part of sexual development in females. Although this overall factor increases as men age, it is still not part of the standard steps in development happening in males.Doctors generally recommend a late-onset hypogonadism diagnosis when males demonstrate three (3) sexual symptoms while having androgen levels below eleven (11) nanomoles per liter, or ‘nmol.’
Andropause: Known Symptoms
Women’s menopause marks a drastic decrease in their levels of estrogen and progesterone, the primary reproductive hormones in women. This decrease considerably happens in a relatively short time. On the other hand, symptoms of conditions people usually label as andropause or male menopause emerge slowly and happen subtly, somewhat less severely than menopause.
Levels of male hormones, also called testosterone, also decrease but are less severe compared to the significant hormonal level drop for females throughout menopause. Some varied signs and symptoms people correlate to andropause or male menopause can include:
- hot flashes
- irritability and moodiness
- a build-up of fat in the abdomen and chest areas
- muscle mass loss
- skin drying and thinning
- excessive sweating
One particular study published in NEJM, or the New England Journal of Medicine, has identified some of the most common symptoms of andropause or male menopause in three (3) factors: a significant decrease in libido, lowered frequency of having morning erections, and erectile dysfunction. This study listed other symptoms, including energy loss, walking inability of more than a kilometer, or precisely 0.62 miles, and completion difficulties with strenuous physical tasks like running or heavy lifting. Activities like bending, kneeling, and stooping may also potentially become quite challenging. In addition, fatigue and depression might result from the change in levels of male hormones, too.
Andropause: Some Causes
Testosterone levels decrease gradually after reaching 30 in men and fall on an average of one percent yearly. But some doctors do not believe in average, age-related testosterone level declines being the center of andropause or male menopause symptoms. Concerning this fact, every male would be experiencing these symptoms, which is not usually the case. A lack of exercise can also lead to testosterone decrease in older men.This condition is quite complex, possibly producing different symptoms for different people. Although these symptoms usually happen in older men with decreasing testosterone levels, these conditions tend to occur in older males who suffer cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
This fact suggests that male hormone levels are not the only contributor to this known condition. Other risk factors can include underlying health problems like:
- alcohol consumption
- lack of exercise
- sleep deprivation
In addition, erectile dysfunction may also result from blood vessels changes or nerve problems. Some men also experience that impactful psychological phenomenon called “mid-life crisis.” This event happens when they become concerned about certain milestones, professional and personal, occurring in their lives. It can result from depression, triggering a range of factors that lead to some physical symptoms of ADAM. Factors like lack of sleep, lack of exercise and poor diet, alcohol consumption and smoking, and low self-esteem may also contribute.
Andropause: Possible Treatment
Since andropause has no clear definition, males who experience these specific physical changes get treatment based on their symptoms. Obese individuals receive support for weight management and are given an exercise regimen. They may also need to adjust their food intake, engaging in a well-balanced and nutritious diet. Careful dietary management reduces aging effects in most men.
On the other hand, those who suffer from diabetes and heart diseases require proper management for underlying conditions. Control over levels of blood glucose has been shown to reduce these symptoms. Doctors also carry out detailed check-ups on such discovered symptoms as fatigue and erectile dysfunction in detecting cardiovascular diseases such as scans and blood tests. They may also refer individuals with symptoms of anxiety or depression to a psychologist or psychiatrist, who are the best resource persons to prescribe antidepressants, psychotherapy, or both.
Doctors may also suggest testosterone therapy. However, its effectiveness is not entirely clear. Testosterone therapies could potentially increase the risks of urinary tract blockage and prostate cancer. It may also result in epilepsy, ischemic heart disease, and sleep apnea aggravation.
In 2015, the FDA ruled that numerous testosterone and vitamin supplements claim to support andropause or male menopause. In general, they do not contain some advised components, potentially increasing the risks of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease development. Talk to your doctor about symptoms management towards aging and age-related diseases.
Takeaways on Andropause
There is insufficient evidence in defining andropause, or the so-called “male menopause,” especially as a diagnosable medical condition. But ADAM as a testosterone deficiency tends to have similar effects to “male menopause.” Situations that involve low testosterone levels can be complicated, showing differently for each individual. Most doctors don’t diagnose andropause as the existing male menopause. On the other hand, having a lifestyle consisting of a balanced diet, regular exercise, and minimal alcohol and tobacco consumption is likely to give that boost needed for your well-being. It can help reduce physical symptoms experienced by aging men while treating underlying conditions related to andropause at the same time.
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