Menopause is a pretty common term that we all have heard of. A time that marks the end of the menstrual cycle of a woman and leads to a natural decline in the female reproductive hormones. With hormonal changes being a natural part of the process of aging, it is not just women but men as well who experience a natural decline in reproductive hormones. Male menopause is termed as Andropause which can simply be understood as a condition the decreasing levels of testosterone in a man with an increasing age. Unlike menopause, Andropause does not takes place in a well defined period of time but takes place due to the decline in androgens in older men. This decline often comes in with symptoms like weakness, fatigue and sexual issues. The testosterone in this condition declines over a prolonged period of time and the consequences of it are not very clear. Let us get ahead and learn more about andropause, what it is, along with some of its symptoms, causes and treatment options with Dr. Treertha Shetty, Gynecologist, Obstetrician, Shetty’s Endoscopic Surgical Centre.
What is Andropause?
Feeling tired and moody, having a low sex drive and that constant weakness ae a few things that signalise towards male menopause aka the Andropause. This condition can simply be understood as a decline in male hormone that happens around the age of 40 and takes place over a prolonged period of time. This age related decline in sexual hormones is also remed as late onset hypogonadism or as androgen or testosterone deficiency. Often affiliated with hypogonadism , this condition involves a drop in the levels of production of testosterone in men who are around the age of 40. Around this age the testosterone levels decrease by about 1% every year.
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One must know that these hormones being produced in a male testes is not just responsible for the sex drive of a man but supports various other functions as well. Some of the essential functions performed by this hormone in men are red blood cell production, fat distribution, maintaining muscle mass, fueling the physical and mental energy, regulating fertility, fight to flight response and other such key evolutionary factors.
Unlike, menopause, andropause is not a comlete shutdown of reproductive organs and hormones but is more of a gradual decline that takes place over a prolonged period of time.
Symptoms of Andropause
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As by now we are well aware of what actually the condition of Andropause is, how does it affects a person, let us take a close look at some of the common symptoms of this condition and see how they can affect a person-
- Sweat and hot flashes
- Reduced libido
- Decreased motivation
- Decreased bone density
- Increased body fat
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Development of breasts
- Low self confidence
- Reduced muscle mass
- Erectile dysfunction
What Causes Andropause?
The change in the levels of hormones with increasing age is a natural process. Before puberty, the levels of testosterone in a man are quite low as compared to that after puberty. With an increasing age, the levels of these hormones tend to decline gradually over a prolonged period of time. These testosterone are responsible for various physical male characteristics such as facial hair, muscle strength, deep voice and a strong sexual drive. A decline in the levels of this hormone produced by the testes can be due to various conditions such as anti testosterone therapy given to treat progesterone cancer or due to the surgical removal of testes to treat testicular cancer.
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As the initial signs and symptoms of andropause are quite common to that of menopause, one might expriece contineous tiredness and fatigue while going through this hormonal decline. Where these symptoms are just an early warning sign and to know what exactly is going on with the body, a person might require a proper medical diagnosis. Research suggests that men in their older age should get tested if they experience any of the above mentioned symptoms for a time period. In case the initial tests carried out suggest low testosterone levels, a repetitive test is conducted to confirm the condition. Not just this but further testing might also be required in order to know the exact cause of this hormonal decline and to check if there is some other hormonal deficiency present as well.
Treatment for Andropause
Here's good news for all the men out there: the condition of Andropause can be treated. Where the treatment recommendations for this hormonal decline associated with old age might vary for every man, in some cases the doctors might suggest providing a testosterone therapy after explaining the patient about the benefits and risk factors of it. Other than this, leading a healthy lifestyle can take you a long way and making regular exercising and healthy eating a part of your regular habits can help you a lot.
(This article is based upon a post by Dr. Treertha Shetty, Gynecologist, Obstetrician, Shetty’s Endoscopic Surgical Centre on her instagram handle)