The term menopause is mostly associated with women. However, modern research shows that some men have been reporting some of the symptom’s women experience when in menopause or perimenopause.
It appears in some literature as andropause, but modern researchers advise that without clear boundaries, it can be hard to diagnose male menopause. However, that does not say there is no cause for concern. Male menopause has been shown to cause adverse health issues in men aged 30 and above.
Here is a detailed guide into some of the causes of male menopause, the associated symptoms, and suggested treatments.
Male Menopause Explained
Testosterone is responsible for muscle mass, facial and body hair, and sex drive in men. However, as men get older, the levels of this hormone become low and some may experience physical, sexual, and psychological issues as a result.
It is part of the aging process and studies show that men suffer from a 10% decrease in testosterone every 10 years after they hit the 30-year mark. This condition is referred to as male menopause.
However, some physicians refer to it as andropause since it is associated with a decrease in androgen (testosterone). Some researchers also call it an androgen deficiency, testosterone deficiency, and late-onset hypogonadism.
Unlike menopause in women that is more rapid and has clear symptoms, andropause features a gradual decline in testosterone levels and the development of symptoms are slower than what occurs in women.
It also doesn’t involve a total shutdown of reproductive organs. However, you might experience some sexual complications like male menopause hot flashes, low sex drive, and premature ejaculation issues.
It’s estimated that 30% of men aged 50 and above experience symptoms of male menopause triggered by a decrease in testosterone. Those experiencing these symptoms, according to experts, might also be at risk of health concerns such as osteoporosis if they do not receive the proper care.
Below are some of the common causes of male menopause and the symptoms you can expect following a decrease in testosterone levels.
The Causes of Male Menopause
Male menopause is mostly associated with age-related changes in men. While age may impact the levels of sex-specific hormones in men, it is not one of the most accurate causes of male menopause.
There are two major causes of andropause. They include:
1. Late On-Set Hypogonadism
According to some studies, the symptoms associated with andropause are due to a decline in androgen in the aging male (ADAM), or also termed late-onset hypogonadism.
It is a natural occurrence, and it happens when the gonads or reproductive cells start aging and lose function. It is also a testosterone deficiency. While the reported pervasiveness of hypogonadism varies significantly, ranging from 2.1% to about 40% in men aged 35 and above, a Hypogonadism in Males (HIM) study shows that over 13.8 million men aged 40 and above in the U.S. alone might be biochemically testosterone deficient.
Physicians suggest several diagnoses for late-onset hypogonadism. However, the most common diagnosis for this cause of male menopause is when a male demonstrates at least three sexual-related issues and has androgen levels lower than 11 nanomoles per liter (nmol).
2. Physiological Issues
Certain psychological issues trigger some of these andropause symptoms. For instance, low libido, mood swings, and erectile dysfunction might be the result of anxiety and stress-related problems.
There are also physical causes of sexual dysfunction, including a decrease in nitric oxide levels, a constituent responsible for blood flow to the genitals, and dilation of your blood vessels.
‘Mid-life crisis’ might also trigger male menopause. It’s a life halfway stage when men become concerned with their personal and career milestones. It may result in depression, which causes a range of issues leading to symptoms of ADAM.
3. Lifestyle Triggers
Today, there is a lot of pressure to succeed in life. Many people focus on making money, ignoring their health, and triggering issues like male menopause. Some of these lifestyle-related causes of male menopause include:
- Work or relationship stressors
- Divorce-related stress
- ‘Money moods (financial stresses)’
- Poor diet
- Low self-esteem
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
4. Underlying Health Conditions
Some of the most unspoken causes of male menopause are health-related issues like testicular cancer and the surgical removal of the testes.
Other health concerns that might trigger the condition include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and high blood pressure.
The Male Menopause Symptoms
Although male menopause symptoms vary from one person to the other, common symptoms of andropause include:
- Depression. It is one of the most significant male menopause symptoms. When testosterone levels are low, you experience issues of low self-esteem, lethargy, and decreased moods.
- Sexual-related issues. One of the most significant male menopause symptoms is erectile dysfunction. This is characterized by reduced libido, difficulty maintaining an erection, premature ejaculation issues, and sometimes shrinking testes.
You might also experience male menopause hot flashes, reduced intensity of orgasms, heightened performance anxiety, ornery disposition, among other symptoms. The diagnosis of late-onset hypogonadism is mainly associated with these symptoms.
Fatigue. Fatigue or decreased energy levels are the most popular male menopause symptoms. It might occur due to decreased testosterone levels or hypotestosteronemia.
Testosterone is an essential component in men as it helps maintain energy and vitality levels and also helps improve mental sharpness and acuity, so you get to focus better.
Abdominal Density. Aging in men has been shown to trigger fat deposition in the central and upper body. It might be a result of a decline in the growth hormone concentration with age.
Growth hormones are also vital for maintaining the binding globulin (SHBG) and testosterone. Thus, a decrease in SHBG and testosterone can accelerate fat build-up in the abdominal region, triggering belly fat and obesity.
- Insomnia. Testosterone is also important in regulating sleep patterns. A reduction in the hormone levels can lead to male menopause symptoms like insomnia, irritability, and daytime sleepiness.
In addition to these male menopause symptoms, andropause can lead to reduced muscle mass and strength, bone loss, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular complication.
It might also lead to male menopause hot flashes, decreased insulin sensitivity, anemia, lower quality of life, and potentially increase expenses due to disability and frailty.
Therefore, if you suspect you might be experiencing these symptoms of andropause, ensure to seek professional help from a qualified physician. Various physicians specialize in male menopause treatment to help manage andropause.
With that, here are some of the most popular andropause treatments in the medical community.
The Treatment for Male Menopause
Factors like age and pre-existing health concerns are significant determinants for proper male menopause treatment.
However, according to several physicians, the best solution to reducing male menopause hot flashes is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). The treatment has been shown to help the young, aged, healthy, and unhealthy males regain their hormone levels.
The most significant improvements of HRT have been in the sexual domain with most patients experiencing increased sex drive, improved bedroom performance, and enhanced energy levels.
When combined with fitness programs and sound nutrition, HRT becomes an even more powerful male menopause treatment, with incredible improvements being seen in moods, lean body mass, muscle strength, and physical functions.
Some physicians also recommend taking testosterone supplements and prescriptions, which come in the form of capsules, gels, injections, and skin patches. With this form of andropause treatment, the physician will recommend the best solution based on your symptoms and lifestyle.
Nonetheless, the best form of male menopause treatment is adopting healthier lifestyle choices. Therefore, you might want to consider eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, adopting healthy ways of dealing with stress, and getting regular exercise.
The Bottom Line
Although there’s insufficient evidence to define male menopause, it is not uncommon to experience a decline in testosterone levels as you get older or suffer from various health issues.
Nonetheless, if your symptoms become worse, the best solution is to seek professional medical assistance. A certified physician will offer recommendations that will cater to your individual needs and help manage your symptoms.