What Is Andropause? | Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments Of Male Menopause
Having lower sex drive? Getting easily tired? Are you having drops in mood? Check this post to see if you have Andropause and know how to treat it!
In this article:
- What is Male Menopause?
- Symptoms of Andropause
- Causes of Andropause
- Diagnosis of Andropause
- Possible Treatments
- Andropause in a Nutshell
Andropause | What You Need To Know
What is Male Menopause?
Andropause comes from the terms “andras” which means “human male” in Greek and “pause” which means “end.”
Male menopause a.k.a. andropause, is also known as late-onset hypogonadism (LOH) or androgen decline in the aging male (ADAM). In some studies, it may also be called:
- testosterone deficiency syndrome
- androgen deficiency syndrome
- a partial decline in the aging male syndrome (PADAM)
The many alternative names hint at the fact that researchers have not yet come to a consensus on how to clinically define andropause. It is widely accepted, however, that it is characterized by low testosterone or a drop in androgen, and is more common among older men.
It is nothing like female menopause, affecting 100% of women over 50. Unlike female menopause whose timing and symptoms are clearly defined, andropause slowly progresses over a long period of time. And while lower testosterone levels are perfectly common in older males, not all men will experience andropause.
While male menopause may not lead to an absolute halt in a reproductive activity like in women, it may give rise to some complications.
Symptoms of Andropause
The male hormone has an active role in our lives, beginning from puberty to old age. Testosterone in men has a hand in regulating:
- fat distribution
- bone mass
- muscle strength
- muscle mass
- libido (sex drive)
- your body's production of sperm and red blood cells.
Symptoms of andropause are not specific to the condition, but may possibly lead to speculations. If you experience the following conditions, you may want to consult with your doctor about them. Lower levels of testosterone may manifest through the following symptoms:
- decreased energy, fatigue
- decrease in muscle mass and strength
- decreased bone mass
- decrease in sex drive
- depression or a drop in mood
Other symptoms that may suggest andropause or low levels of testosterone include:
- erectile dysfunction
- increase in body fat
- hot flushes
- increase in sleepiness
- gynaecomastia (development of breast tissue in males), discomfort in breasts
- a decrease in the size of testes
- poor memory and concentration
- infertility, either low or zero sperm count
- decrease in physical or work performance
- decrease in overall body hair
- low trauma fracture (a drop in standing height due to low bone mineral density)
No research shows that andropause discriminates between ethnicity or race.
Causes of Andropause
Testosterone levels in men begin dropping by 1% from their 30s. Consequently, approximately 20% of men over 60 and approximately 50% of men over 80 will have testosterone levels below the natural range or below that of younger men. Still, as stated earlier, not all older men may experience andropause.
A number of causes may lead to the decline of testosterone. These, however, are subject to further research. If you're experiencing temporary illnesses or are taking medication that may pull down testosterone levels temporarily, avoid getting a diagnosis in the meantime. Causes may include:
- chronic disease
- severe emotional stress
It's important to note that it's still unclear at which level of testosterone deficiency is considered to have any medical significance. There are men that may have below-average levels of testosterone but do not exhibit symptoms of andropause.
Beyond age, there are no other known causes of andropause. There are common comorbidities of andropause or conditions that are commonly associated with male menopause. But it's not certain if andropause is a cause, consequence or if it is related to the condition at all. These conditions include:
- hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol or triglycerides)
If you think you might be experiencing andropause, these may be conditions your doctor may need to be aware of.
Diagnosis of Andropause
The first step to treating your andropause is to get a definitive diagnosis from your doctor or age-related specialist. Your doctor or specialist may recommend a lifestyle change. Otherwise, you may be a candidate for hormone treatment.
The Endocrine Society has set guidelines for a clinical diagnosis and treatment of andropause. Not all older men with lower levels of the male hormone may be a candidate for hormone therapy. Before a diagnosis of andropause is given, the patient must undergo rigorous and repeated testing. Doctors must also find other possible causes for the hormonal drop.
Treating andropause may not be as easy as popping in your local pharmacy and purchasing hormone replacement pills. If a patient is unmistakably and consistently positively tested for andropause, the treatment will be highly individualized.
Testosterone therapy may be administered through injection, transdermal or oral methods. The treatment will vary for each individual, and the decision must be made by a knowledgeable doctor and an informed patient.
Make sure to look for a doctor that specializes in this field and one that is patient enough to go over all treatments, their benefits, and implications with you before you make a decision. You must let your specialist understand your medical history, chronic illnesses, and all medication you are currently taking. This will inform their diagnosis and possibly your treatment.
Not all men with low testosterone levels may be qualified for treatment. For example, the Endocrine Society recommends against treating those preparing to start a family or those with other conditions.
Andropause in a Nutshell
Andropause, LOH, or ADAM is not a rare condition and is quite common among the male population. While its symptoms are quite scary and may have adverse effects on the quality of life, bear in mind that not all men may go through andropause. The best thing we can do right now is to take care of our overall health – diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle go a long way.
With studies and clinical trials showing varied results, it's important that researchers continue to dig deep on the topic. With andropause or LOH affecting bone and muscle health, cognitive function, and sexual life, it's important that we stay vigilant and book that doctor's appointment.
Whether you feel that you are experiencing symptoms or you feel the sudden need to see your doctor, it's worth making the visit for a routine checkup.
Are you making necessary lifestyle changes? Have you booked an appointment with your doctor? Let us know in the comments section below!
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