What Is Male Menopause?
Male menopause” is the more common term for andropause. It describes age-related changes in male hormone levels. The same group of symptoms is also known as testosterone deficiency, androgen deficiency, and late-onset hypogonadism.
Male menopause involves a drop in testosterone production in men who are age 50 or older. It’s often affiliated with hypogonadism. Both conditions involve lowered testosterone levels and similar symptoms.
If you’re a man, testosterone is a hormone produced in your testes. It does more than fuel your sex drive. It also fuels changes during puberty, fuels your mental and physical energy, maintains your muscle mass, regulates your fight-or-flight response, and regulates other key evolutionary features.
Male menopause differs from female menopause in several ways. For one thing, not all men experience it. For another, it doesn’t involve a complete shutdown of your reproductive organs. However, sexual complications may arise as a result of your lowered hormone levels.
Symptoms of Male Menopause
Male menopause can cause physical, sexual, and psychological problems. They typically worsen as you get older. They can include:
- low energy
- depression or sadness
- decreased motivation
- lowered self-confidence
- difficulty concentrating
- insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- increased body fat
- reduced muscle mass and feelings of physical weakness
- gynecomastia, or development of breasts
- decreased bone density
- erectile dysfunction
- reduced libido
You may also experience swollen or tender breasts, decreased testicle size, loss of body hair, or hot flashes. Low levels of testosterone associated with male menopause have also been linked to osteoporosis. This is a condition where your bones become weak and brittle. These are rare symptoms. They typically affect men at the same age as women entering menopause.
Changes in Testosterone Over the Years
Before you hit puberty, your testosterone levels are low. Then they increase as you sexually mature. Testosterone is the hormone that fuels typical changes involved in male puberty, such as:
- growth of your muscle mass
- growth of your body hair
- lowering of your voice
- changes in your sexual functioning.
As you age, your testosterone levels will typically begin to drop. According to the Mayo Clinic, testosterone levels tend to decline an average of 1 percent per year after men turn 30. Some health conditions can cause earlier or more drastic declines in your testosterone levels.
Diagnosing and Treating Male Menopause
Your doctor can take a sample of your blood to test your testosterone levels.
Unless male menopause is causing you severe hardship or disrupting your life, you’ll probably manage your symptoms without treatment. The biggest hurdle in treating male menopause may be talking to your doctor about your symptoms. Many men are too intimidated or shy to discuss sexual topics with their doctors.
The most common type of treatment for symptoms of male menopause is making healthier lifestyle choices. For example, your doctor might advise you to:
- eat a healthy diet
- get regular exercise
- get enough sleep
- reduce your stress
These lifestyle habits can benefit all men. After adopting these habits, men who are experiencing symptoms of male menopause may see a dramatic change in their overall health.
If you’re experiencing depression, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants, therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Hormone replacement therapy is another treatment option. However, it’s very controversial. Like performance-enhancing steroids, synthetic testosterone can have damaging side effects. For example, if you have prostate cancer, it may cause your cancer cells to grow. If your doctor suggests hormone replacement therapy, weigh all of the positives and negatives before making your decision.
It’s normal to experience a decline in your testosterone levels as you get older. For many men, the symptoms are manageable, even without treatment. If your symptoms are causing you hardship, speak to your doctor. They can provide recommendations to help you manage or treat your symptoms.