Most of you would have heard of menopause in women, but have you heard about Andropause, also called Male menopause? Yes, even men reach andropause, a stage where the levels of testosterone fall decently resulting in many changes in the body. The difference is that, women reach the menopause stage within a year or two after Perimenopause, men don’t reach so soon. It happens as a result of gradual reduction of testosterone levels in the body.
Testosterone is a very important male hormone that changes the voice during adolescence, helps in building muscles, development of hair on the face and body. As a man ages, levels of testosterone decrease at the rate of 10% for every 10 years after the age of 30. Around 50% of men will experience the symptoms of low testosterone levels when they are in their 50s. Among a number of conditions that might be experienced, important one is osteoporosis, where the bone density decreases and bones become weak and fragile.
What causes decrease in testosterone levels in a man?
Age is the primary factor for the reduced levels of testosterone in a man. There can be other medical or physical reasons (such as injury or infection) for the testosterone levels to reduce. After certain age, the body releases a hormone called ‘Sex Hormone Binding Globulin’ (SHBG); this SHBG binds to the free testosterone in the blood. As the man ages, the already existing testosterone levels will be lower. Binding of SHBG further reduces the free floating testosterone in the blood, a double whammy for the body that reduces muscle strength, induces mood swings, fatigue etc.
Symptoms of Andropause
Symptoms of andropause are the same as the symptoms caused by lower testosterone levels:
- Low sex drive
- Difficulty getting and/or maintaining an erection even with stimulation
- Fatigue, lack of energy
- Mood Swings, getting irritated easily
- Loss of muscle strength
- Loss of bone strength
- Increased body fat
- Hot flashes
Andropause can also cause heart related diseases along with osteoporosis.
When you see a sexologist?
It is better to see a good sexologist near you as soon as you notice the symptoms. Though low sex drive is common in men after 40s and 50s, if you are suffering from getting an erection (Erectile Dysfunction), you must see a specialist. You doctor will then have some tests done to know the levels of free floating testosterone in the body. If they are too low, he/she may further test to determine the root cause of the problem. In some cases, hypogonadism, diabetes, increased blood pressure may also result in lower production of testosterone.
Treatment for Andropause
Drop in testosterone levels is a very common thing that happens in every male. However, switching to healthy life style, working out regularly, eating healthy by including more vegetables and fruits in your diet can help in slowing down the process. For some men, your doctor may decide to administer testosterone replacement therapy. The replacement can be either through pills, skin patches that regularly release synthetic testosterone into the body, injections etc.
Testosterone gel may also be applied on the arms. But the person should be careful to wash his hands and keep their clothes clean so that the gel does not transfer to another person especially children. Testosterone boosting capsules are usually taken twice daily. Testosterone replacement will not be advised for patients suffering from liver, kidney disorders or if they have too much of calcium in their body or are suffering from enlarged prostate. Testosterone injections may cause sudden rise in the levels of testosterone that might result in mood swings.