Andropause: The "male menopause" myth
Men face physical challenges as they get older due to fluctuations in the levels of certain hormones, particularly testosterone. Testosterone is critical to a man’s ability to enjoy a vital and sexually active lifestyle.
Produced primarily in the testes, testosterone regulates a man’s sex drive, enables him to build muscle mass, and has an impact on his strength, bone density, production of red blood cells and distribution of fat.
In severe cases, the aging male’s diminished capacity to produce testosterone is called andropause; this condition is sometimes misleadingly referred to as male menopause. However, there are few similarities between menopause and the constellation of symptoms that can affect men who have dramatically reduced levels of testosterone, although both begin to manifest themselves during mid-life.
A major difference is the fact that andropause occurs gradually, because reductions in testosterone levels generally occur at a rate of only about 1% per year after age 30.
How is Andropause Diagnosed and What are its Symptoms?
The only way to diagnose a reduction in testosterone levels is through a blood test. In some cases, a lower than normal testosterone count causes no symptoms. In these cases, no treatment is necessary. However, when a man suffers from symptoms that compromise his health and vitality, treatment may be recommended.
According to the Mayo Clinic, following are common symptoms of andropause:
- Decline in various sexual functions
These sexual changes can include erectile dysfunction, reduced libido and loss of fertility.
- Sleep disturbances
A reduction in testosterone can cause insomnia or abnormal sleepiness.
- Mood changes
Andropause sufferers might have trouble motivating themselves and experience other emotional problems such as depression.
- Abnormal physical changes
Low testosterone levels can cause a variety of physical changes, including a decrease in bone density, reduced muscle mass and strength and an increase in body fat. In rare cases, men with andropause might experience other symptoms, such as gynecomastia (swollen or tender breast tissue), hot flashes and diminished energy.
How Andropause is Treated
Doctors, such as Dr. Christopher Senger (Medical Director at Virility, Inc.), who specialize in treating men who have low testosterone levels will first determine if there is an underlying medical cause such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity or severe sleep apnea. Successfully treating those conditions can sometimes improve testosterone levels.
If the the patient is a good candidate for testosterone replacement therapy, treatment can be offered in several different forms including topical gel applications, implanted pellets, or testosterone injections. Because testosterone replacement therapy does not stimulate the body’s ability to produce testosterone, the treatment must be ongoing to be effective. If the treatment stops, the low levels will return.
*As of 2015, testosterone prescriptions in the U.S. increased 170% since 2007.
Kovac JR, Rajanahally S, Smith RP, Coward RM, Lamb DJ, Lipshultz LI (February 2014). “Patient satisfaction with testosterone replacement therapies: the reasons behind the choices”. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 11 (2): 553–62.
Do You Have Andropause?
If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of Andropause, be sure to give Virility, Inc. a call at (800) 503-4033. We will schedule a consultation and lab work to determine if this is the case, and whether you may benefit from Testosterone Replacement Therapy.