We all know that all women from their 50s suffer from Menopause, a normal phase in a woman’s life that is littered with hot flushes, irritability, night sweats, reduced libido, dry skin and lots more.
However, none of us (or very few of us) have heard of any such phenomenon in a man. If they suffer from it, we’ve not heard it, or they’ve done well to keep it hidden!
Does A Man really suffer from Male Menopause or Andropause?
The answer is “Yes”, an unequivocal “Yes” with a capital Y. have you heard or seen your father, husband, uncle, brother, male friend complaining of depression, reduced libido in their 50s, night sweats, sleep disturbances and more? These are simply signs and symptoms of the male ageing process called Andropause or Viropause
What is Andropause or Viropause?
These are simply a syndrome associated with male ageing, with a lack of, or absence of, testosterone. Therefore, one often uses the acronym ADAM for Andropause, This stands for Androgen Decline in Aging Men. It’s a sad fact, but hormonal levels in men start dropping by the time they are 40 and this progressive decline continues. By age 50, one half of all men are afflicted by a noticeable decrease in testosterone levels. This decrease in this vital male hormone leads to a variety of very uncomfortable ailments.
This is not very common universal knowledge in the west, but men do go through a mid-life change, very like their women counterparts: they experience complex hormonal rhythms which affect their sexuality, mood and temperament.
Often, this pivotal phase also coincides with major life changes that take their expression in the form of career change, divorce, or just a major re-ordering of their lives. In a nutshell, andropause is a dimension of a man’s life that is psychological, interpersonal, social and spiritual.
But, do all men experience Andropause?
Research shows that around one out of 10 men aged 40 to 60 suffers from low testosterone. This number increases with age: among men aged 60 and above, the statistic is one in 5 men. However, some men sail through this transition without too much of a crisis – they simply sail from the first phase of their life into the second, seemingly to not to suffer too much from the Andropause symptoms.
For some men, the male menopause seems just a natural part of life without too much discomfort. However, andropause is often triggered by depression, illness, obesity and dementia – all common occurrences that appear with age as the body ages and one grows older.
Certain illnesses that make the heart and lungs susceptible also seem to affect testosterone production. Men who suffer from auto-immune diseases or who have cancer appear to have a higher susceptibility to low levels of testosterone.
This said, acute andropause is relatively uncommon when compared to acute menopause in women. This is due to the fact that testicular decline in men is a gradual process in most men.
What are the causes of the symptoms of Andropause?
With age, a man’s body becomes less efficient and his production of hormones declines below normal levels compared to those of a young or younger man. Such hormones include testosterone, the human growth hormone (HGH), and dihydroepiandosterone (DHEA). To complicate matters, estrogen production actually increases in men experiencing andropause.
Signs and Symptoms of Andropause
Apart from testosterone decline, Andropause often manitests the following symptoms:
The Physical Dimension
- Reduced endurance during physical activities
- Weight gain
- Sleep disturbances
- Loss of, or thinning of, hair
- Bone deterioration
The Psychological Dimension
- Mood Swing
- Loss of, or reduced ability for, concentration
- Fear and Anxiety
- Feelings of loneliness, unattractiveness and being unloved
The Sexual Dimension
- Decreased erectile function
- Loss of libido or sex drive
- A decrease in the strength and duration of an orgasm
- Decreased interest in sex
- An increase in fear and anxiety about the loss of sexual potency
- An increase in fantasies about sex with a new or younger partner
- An increase in problems and fights in relationships, sex, love and intimacy
How to know if you are suffering from Andropause?
You should visit your doctor and undergo tests for the following: a complete blood count and chemistry profile, free and total testosterone, estradiol (estrogen), progesterone, DHEA, luteinizing hormone and homocysteine. For interpretation purposes, the free testosterone in the serum or blood should be in the mid to high normal range (10.8 nmol/L to 24.6 nmol/L) and the estradiol (estrogen) in the low to normal range (below 32 pg/ml)
How would you cope with the changes brought about with Andropause?
Life continues whether one likes it or not, so the best and easiest way is to cope with Andropause and enjoy life as it comes. At the end of the day, andropause is a phase in a natural life, a transition to another phase. You would best take care of your physical and your psychological needs. Exercise, good nutrition, relaxation, continue your normal activities and just relax. Your philosophy should be: Enjoy Ageing!
Discuss this transitional phase with your doctor, your friends, although research indicates that men are very unlikely to visit their doctor for this. It is often in a man’s psychology to be macho – if they have a problem, they often don’t want to take about it. This is probably because of the male psyche: it does not easily accept a dependent or weak role.
Is there any treatment for the male andropause?
Few men talk about andropause, let alone seek treatment for it. Many men feel out of their comfort zone talking about their symptoms. In the not so long ago past, doctors did not take men’s andropause seriously.
Possible treatments to help men through this transitional period include:
Testosterone replacement Therapy (TRT). Much like estrogen replacement for women, testosterone replacement aims to raise hormonal levels back to a reasonable and healthy level. An increase in their testosterone levels normally decreases many of the andropause symptoms.Unfortunately, testosterone replacement does not do much to combat erectile dysfunction problems in the menopausal man.
There are also herbs that help to influence and regulate the hormonal cycle and when taken, do help in controlling the male menopausal symptoms.