As men and women age, they experience hormonal changes. We all have heard about women going through menopause, but what about men? Do they experience “menopause?” Well, sort of. Andropause, often referred to as male menopause, is a dramatic reduction in testosterone production that may occur in middle-aged men.
The term male menopause is a bit misleading. While the onset of menopause in women can be quite sudden, men can start losing their testosterone as early as the age of 35. This gradual reduction means that the resulting symptoms of andropause can slowly build with time.
Doctors began studying the causes and effects of andropause as early as the 1940’s, but it has only begun to gain acceptance as a recognized condition by the medical community within the past few years.
Currently, about 25 million males between the ages of 40 and 55 may be suffering from an excessive loss of testosterone production otherwise known as andropause.
Andropause Symptoms and Causes
Some of the most common symptoms associated with andropause include:
- Decreased libido
- Night sweats
- Erectile dysfunction
- Limited ability to concentrate or stay focused
It is still uncertain if these conditions are directly caused by low testosterone or if decreased production is simply a result of preexisting conditions. Doctors do believe that the factors are linked. For example, erectile dysfunction is usually the result of restricted arteries, but the condition is almost always accompanied by decreased levels of testosterone.
In a recent study of 2,100 men over the age of 45, the likeliness of low testosterone was:
- 2.4 times higher in obese men
- 2.1 times higher in men suffering from diabetes
- 1.8 times higher in men with high blood pressure
The most obvious therapy for treating the loss of testosterone levels is to increase them again through Testosterone Replacement Therapy or Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). This increase can be received through a variety of methods. Some of them include:
- Injection directly into the blood stream
- Patches worn on the upper arm or inside the mouth
- Creams or gels that are absorbed into the skin
In addition to hormone therapy, patients may explore the use of herbal supplements and vitamins. Here are just a few options:
- Vitamins C and E
- Muira puama (a natural aphrodisiac)
- L-arginine (used to help maintain blood vessel tone)
A diet rich in the following may also help:
- Low fat foods
- Tomato products (these are also know to reduce the risk of prostate cancer)
Decreasing alcohol consumption is also recommended because excesses of alcohol lead to a build-up of the aromatase enzyme which converts testosterone into estrogen. Fat cells can also lead to aromatase enzymes, so treatment plans always include some form of an exercise regimen to counter these effects.