What is Male Menopause
7 minute read
What is the Male Menopause?
Just as the fairer sex sees a drop in oestrogen levels after the menopause, the male menopause (also known as the Andropause) is a term sometimes used to describe a decrease in testosterone levels as men get older.
Many men experience symptoms similar to those which women experience during the female menopause, and at a similar time in their lives. This is why it is often called the ‘male menopause’.
Both can have a serious effect on people’s lives, affecting their sexual, physical and mental health.
Whilst the menopause in women is a well-known phenomenon, men’s issues with hormonal health are less commonly discussed.
Here we will look at whether the male menopause/andropause exists and if so, what causes it. We will focus on:
- The main symptoms of the ‘male menopause’.
- How and where to get diagnosed if you think you are suffering from the symptoms.
- How to obtain effective treatment from specialist doctors.
What causes Male Menopause?
Men’s testosterone levels have been on a steady decline for the last 60 years.
Normal male testosterone levels are constantly being revised down as we expect modern men to have less and less of this important hormone.
Whilst we aren’t certain of the cause for this, we know that there are several factors likely to be at play such as greater use of plastics, increasing obesity rates and the birth pill in the water supply.
On top of this general decline, we know that men over the age of 30 see roughly a 1% drop in testosterone levels each year.
This is the main cause of the male menopause as low testosterone levels come to a head around the same age as women experience their decline in hormone production. This is most likely caused by a combination of rising SHBG levels and a reduction of testosterone production by the leydig cells in the testicles as we age.
Testosterone – the main male sex hormone
Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men. It is produced in the testicles and governs all of the pubertal changes that makes a boy into a man. It also influences muscle mass, assertiveness, bone density, bone structure and has important effects on a man’s mood and motivation. If low it can cause anxiety and depression, as well as low sex drive and brain fog. In these instances, testosterone replacement therapy, known as TRT, is an effective treatment option.
Our testosterone blood test can be used to identify whether testosterone levels are low.
Male Menopause - Fact or Fiction?
There is no question that a man’s testosterone level drops as they get older. But is it a Male Menopause?
Does the Male Menopause exist?
In women, oestrogen levels decline rapidly at the end of a woman’s fertility. In men, there isn’t this same sudden drop in levels, as such, calling it a Male Menopause is not entirely accurate.
However, the Male Menopause (also known as the Andropause) does share some of the same characteristics.
What are the Similarities between the Male Menopause and the Female Menopause?
- They often occur at a similar time in life – The slow decline of testosterone levels in men combined with less free testosterone availability leads to a cumulation of issues around the age of 40. This is a similar age as women experience their menopause. This is one reason why it is often called the male menopause.
- They can be treated with hormone replacement therapy – both forms result from a drop in the main sex hormone present in that gender.
- They have similar signs and symptoms – a lot of the signs and symptoms of the female menopause are the same in the andropause.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
Here are the main symptoms seen in the male menopause:
- low sex drive/libido
- low energy
- poor sleep
- sexual dysfunction (erection issues in men, vaginal dryness in women)
- low mood
- sweating/ hot flushes
- joint pain
- reduced bone density
Both female and male menopause can lead to similar symptoms. There is substantial cross-over here as both have an effect on the sex hormone system with similar effects in men and women. In men, the main symptoms identified in a major study on the male menopause were low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and reduced morning erections.
Whilst the male menopause mainly affects testosterone, this has a knock-on effect on oestrogen levels as in men oestrogen is converted mainly from testosterone. In the female menopause, symptoms are primarily related to reduced oestrogen levels, although testosterone may also be an issue.
You can read more about this on our male menopause symptoms article.
How are the male and female menopause diagnosed?
Both the male and female menopause is diagnosed by a combination of blood tests and symptoms.
Clinicians will look for the signs listed above combined with low blood test results and patient history to decide whether there is a hormonal cause.
A useful tool for diagnosis is the Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Male (ADAM) Questionnaire. This simple questionnaire will quickly tell you whether low testosterone is likely to be your issue. You can then decide whether to consider a testosterone blood test to show that you are suffering from this condition.
Can I reverse the Male Menopause?
As we now know the male menopause is related to changes in the male body which mostly occur in the ageing male. There is some evidence that these changes are related to a natural decrease in testosterone production by the testes as a man ages. But is there a way to reverse this process?
Bodyfat and testosterone production
A lot of men put on body fat as they age. Extra fat increases the amount of aromatase in the body which converts more testosterone into oestrogen. Not only is testosterone reduced through this mechanism, but high oestrogen levels inhibit testosterone production further.
By lowering your body fat levels you can increase the amount of circulating testosterone and testosterone production.
Exercise and testosterone production
As above, exercise can help to increase testosterone production by reducing a man’s body fat levels.
Additionally, studies show that a man can increase his testosterone levels through exercise alone, regardless of whether it affects his body fat levels.
Diet’s effect on testosterone levels
In the same way that exercise can reduce body fat, so can an effective diet plan.
Reducing your consumption of foods such as soya and processed foods may also help to improve testosterone levels by reducing oestrogen related chemicals in the body.
Ensuring you eat foods that contain valuable nutrients and vitamins such as vitamin D and zinc can also make a difference in ensuring that your body produces its full amount of testosterone.
Testosterone replacement therapy
In both men and women, hormonal levels often do not return to normal on their own.
As a result, the most effective treatment is with testosterone replacement therapy – also known as TRT. As the name suggests, the low levels of hormones are replaced with an exogenous (from outside the body) source of testosterone. This brings patients back to their normal testosterone levels and relieves symptoms.
Conclusion - How to get help
The male menopause may not be exactly the same as the female menopause. However, the drop in the average man’s testosterone level combined with further decreases in available testosterone results in more and more men suffering from low testosterone symptoms.
If you are starting to notice some of the symptoms above then it is really important that you get tested.
In the modern world where testosterone levels are dropping year by year, your health and happiness depend on having good levels.
Whilst testosterone often gets negative press – it improves male mental and physical health when at optimal levels. It can also improve your relationships and social life.
Unfortunately, it is often considered as normal or a fact of life for older men to have low testosterone levels.
We believe that you shouldn’t have to live with these symptoms.
If you are interested in learning more then please contact us to hear about treatment. We are always happy to provide advice and answer any questions.
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