Male menopause: What you need to know

Menopause for females marks the completion of the female reproductive cycle. However, when growing older, men experience a variety of symptoms and changes which some people equate to menopause effects.

In some literature the disorder appears as “andropause” However, this classification is misleading and there is still no good description of the signs, causes , and treatments.

According to an article in the journal Social History of Medicine, male menopause, or andropause, was a much-discussed subject from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s, but modern researchers warn that andropause is not a reliable treatment without strong boundaries.

Nevertheless, aging also causes results within the male body including frequently rising levels of testosterone.

In this article, we discuss the effects of aging on men’s hormones and measures that can be taken to reduce the effects of aging on men’s health.

Is male menopause real?

A healthy man
When men age, they experience a range of physical changes, but they do not qualify as menopause forms.

Although progression of age does have effects on men’s levels of sex-specific hormones, it is not appropriate to compare the process to female menopause.

Alternatively, some researchers equate the symptoms with an aging male (ADAM) disorder called androgen decline, or late-onset hypogonadism. It eventually happens as the gonads, or organs that contain sex cells, start to age and lose function.

The disorder only affects 2.1 percent of males, while menopause is a normal part of female sexual development. This prevalence increases with age but is not yet a normal phase in male development.

If a man exhibits three sexual signs and has androgen levels below 11 nanomoles per liter (nmol), a doctor may recommend a diagnosis of late-onset hypogonadism.

Symptoms

Menopause in women marks a sharp reduction in estrogen and progesterone, the main female reproductive hormones, which decrease dramatically in a relatively short time span.

Symptoms of conditions that people often describe as male menopause appear slower and more subtly and less severe than in menopause.

The decline in male hormone levels, or testosterone, is less serious than the drop in women’s hormone levels during menopause.

Some people attribute the various signs and symptoms of male menopause including:

  • hot flashes
  • moodiness and irritability
  • fat build-up around the abdomen and the chest
  • loss of muscle mass
  • dry, thin skin
  • excessive sweating

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) identifies the most common male menopause symptoms as diminished libido, lower morning erections and erectile dysfunction.

The study reports other symptoms that include energy loss, failure to walk more than 1 kilometer, or 0.62 miles, and difficulty in completing strenuous physical activities, such as running or carrying heavy objects.

It could also get more challenging to kneel, bend, and stoop.

As a result of the increase in male hormone levels, depression and exhaustion can also set in.

Causes

Testosterone rates slowly decline after a man reaches the age of 30 years, decreasing by an average of one percent each year.

Yet doctors do not believe that the normal, age-related decline in testosterone levels is at the center of the symptoms of male menopause. If this related to the symptoms, they would be experienced by every individual, which is not the case.

Old people exercising
A lack of exercise can lead to decreasing testosterone in older men.

This condition is complex, and it can cause various symptoms in different people. Although these symptoms occur commonly in older men with decreased levels of testosterone, they appear to occur in older men with heart disease, obesity , high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

This indicates that increase in male hormone levels is not the sole contributor to this disorder.

Many risk factors include the underlying health conditions , for example:

Erectile dysfunction may result from changes in the blood vessels or a problem with the nerves.

Many people feel the psychological effects of a “mid-life crisis,” in which professional and personal milestones affect them. This can be a cause of depression which can trigger a range of factors that lead to ADAM’s physical symptoms.

It can also caused by a lack of sleep , poor diet and lack of exercise, smoking and alcohol intake, and low self-esteem.

Hypogonadism is a condition of not producing enough hormones in the testes. Which can contribute to delayed puberty in younger males. If it develops at an older age, possibly linked to obesity or type 2 diabetes, the symptoms of ADAM may occur.

Diagnosis

One report explains how the male menopause has been medicalized, not as a result of scientific research but as “a pattern perpetuated by lay people and medical popularizers.”

A doctor is unlikely to diagnose menopause on a man. It represents a set of symptoms on which there is little agreement.

These symptoms may occur because of a variety of factors in the lifestyle or underlying diseases.

Treatment

Since there is no clear definition of the condition, men experiencing these physical changes will receive treatment according to their symptoms.

A person with obesity gets weight management support and an exercise regimen. They can also have to change their food intake and indulge in a well-balanced , healthy diet.

Old people preparing healthy diet
Careful dietary management can reduce the effects of aging in men.

Individuals with diabetes and cardiovascular disease would need to treat the underlying condition properly. Regulation of blood glucose levels appears to reduce the symptoms.

The physicians will perform a thorough review of the identified symptoms such as erectile dysfunction and weakness to identify any cardiovascular disease, including blood tests and scans.

A person with symptoms of depression or anxiety should be referred to a doctor or therapist who may prescribe antidepressants, psychotherapy, or both.

A doctor may recommend testosterone therapy but it’s not clear how effective this treatment is. Testosterone therapy may increase the risk of urinary tract blockage and prostate cancer. It can also exacerbate heart disease, epilepsy, and sleep apnea.

In 2015, the FDA ruled that many testosterone and vitamin supplements claiming to support menopause often do not contain the advised components and may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular and prostate cancer.

Speak to a doctor on how to manage aging and age-related illness symptoms.

Takeaway

There is insufficient evidence for defining “menopause for men” as a diagnosable medical condition.

ADAM, however, is a testosterone deficiency, a male sex hormone, which can have similar effects to “menopause” Conditions involving low testosterone levels may be complicated for different people and may show differently.

Doctors do not diagnose menopause in males.

A lifestyle involving a healthy diet, daily exercise, and limited use of tobacco and alcohol, however, is likely to improve a sense of health and decrease the physical symptoms of men aging.

Treating underlying conditions can also reduce the effects.

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