Andropause, also referred to as male menopause, is a condition characterized by a drop in testosterone levels that some males may experience as a result of aging. It can cause both physical and mental health symptoms and is often treated with lifestyle changes, medications, hormone therapy, and/or counseling.
What Is Andropause?
While men do not go through a clearly defined period of menopause, they do experience a natural decline in testosterone as they age. This is often referred to as male menopause or andropause. Hormone decline in men occurs much more gradually than in women, and some men may experience no symptoms of male menopause at all. In fact, there is some controversy over whether male menopause actually exists. Some symptoms believed to result from a decline in testosterone may actually be due to other conditions, such as diabetes, medication side effects, or excessive alcohol use.
Signs and Symptoms of Andropause
Andropause can create a range of symptoms that affect a man’s physical, sexual, and psychological functioning. Low energy, insomnia, and decreased bone density are common physical symptoms. Physical changes in the body, such as reduced muscle mass, increased body fat, swollen or tender breasts, enlarged breasts, and loss of body hair may also occur.
Sexual symptoms may also result from a decrease in testosterone levels. Erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, and loss of fertility are common examples of sexual issues that might occur due to andropause. Additionally, some men may experience a decrease in the size of their testes.
Treatment for Andropause
In order to diagnose andropause, a blood test that measures testosterone levels is needed. A doctor may also order tests to rule out underlying medical issues that could be contributing to the condition. It is possible for men to have low testosterone levels without experiencing any related symptoms, and in these cases treatment is generally not required. For those who do experience symptoms that affect health and quality of life, treatment may include lifestyle changes, medications, and counseling.
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can help men maintain strength and energy and can also help promote improved mood and better sleep. For men who experience depression as a result of andropause, psychotherapy may be recommended. Therapy can provide a safe and supportive place for men to discuss the changes they are experiencing as a result of aging, and therapists and counselors can help individuals develop self-care routines and discover healthy coping skills for managing depression and improving well-being.
While hormone replacement therapy is another possible treatment for andropause, it is controversial. Hormone replacement therapy, which involves introducing synthetic testosterone into the body, may potentially cause negative side effects such as prostate cancer. It is recommended individuals carefully consider the potential costs and benefits, and discuss them with their primary care provider and counselor, before pursuing hormone replacement therapy.
Self-Care and Coping Methods
Many individuals are able to manage the symptoms of andropause without medical treatment. Practicing self-care and using healthy coping skills can help men to deal with the physical, sexual, and mental effects that occur with aging and decreasing levels of testosterone. Getting adequate rest and reducing stress can be helpful, as can regularly incorporating healthy activities such as yoga, meditation, and exercise into one’s daily routine. Talking about problems with a trusted friend or doctor can also be helpful. Many individuals may feel embarrassed and avoid discussing their symptoms, especially sexual ones, but seeking support and knowing that other men also experience these issues can offer both comfort and relief, in many cases.
- Krans, B. (2016, March 8). What is male menopause? Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/male#overview1
- Male menopause. (2017, January 14). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/men/guide/male-menopause#1-4
- Male menopause: Myth or reality? (2017, May 18). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/mens-health/in-depth/male-menopause/art-20048056?pg=1
Last Updated: 07-10-2017
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