Have you or your partner ever noticed that you are experiencing hot flushes, gaining weight, or an impaired sexual function?
These are just a few of the symptoms of male menopause, a health condition that doesn't get much attention.
We all know that women have a fixed ovarian reserve, which gradually decreases over time, leading to menopause. Men don't go through menopause, but they face a similar problem as their testosterone levels tend to drop dramatically. And it's called andropause, or just male menopause. As men age, they undergo a number of changes, from greying of hair to loss of muscle mass. The drop in testosterone levels is one of the most dramatic changes men go through.
"It's not often discussed since there isn't much research on the issue, owing to the fact that you don't die from a decrease in gonadal hormones, and the hormone withdrawal isn't as extreme as in women. When males experience this, there are typically other factors at play, in addition to the decline in hormones, such as workplace stress, marriage stress, life management, and lifestyles," said Dr Anubha Singh, Gynaecologist and IVF Expert from Shantah Fertility Centre, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi.
What is Andropause exactly?
The reduction in testosterone levels in males is referred to as male menopause.
"Anytime beyond the age of 40, when women's oestrogen levels begin to decline. Low testosterone is a term used by certain doctors to describe it. It is natural to see a decrease in the production of the male hormone testosterone as you become older, but it can also happen when you have diabetes. Late-onset hypogonadism, often known as age-related low testosterone, is a steady decrease in testosterone levels. It is a more gradual menopause than female menopause, in which ovulation stops and hormone production drops over a short period of time," explained Dr Anubha Singh.
What are a few of the signs and symptoms?
Fatigue, poor libido, and difficulties concentrating are just a few of the symptoms that might occur as a result of this reduction. Apart from these following are other signs and symptoms:
. Diminished mental acuity (poor concentration, depressed mood)
. Loss of strength and energy
. Gaining weight, losing muscle, and gaining fat
. Depressed moods and/or a lack of zeal and enthusiasm
. Muscle aches and pains (feeling stiffness)
. Sweats or hot flushes
. Hands and feet that are cold
. Sexual dysfunction
. Loss of height
What causes Andropause?
Testosterone is responsible for a variety of important functions in men. For example, it regulates libido, sperm production, and muscle mass. Dr Shobha Gupta, Medical Director and IVF Specialist from Mother's Lap IVF Centre, Pitampura, New Delhi, explained: "Testosterone is important for bone health and blood production. It is produced in the testes and adrenal glands. As men tend to grow old, testosterone levels tend to drop, along with the ability to produce sperm. This leads to a condition called andropause".
When do men experience Andropause?
Andropause can begin around the age of 40, but it can begin earlier and continue till 70. There has been increasing discussions about andropause, but not all doctors and psychologists agree that there is male menopause because not all men experience it, and for those who do, they often do not express it. Their feelings are like freely as women.
Diagnosing and treatment
"If you feel the above mentioned symptom, then that's your sign otherwise, your doctor will likely do a blood test to measure your testosterone levels. If they are low, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be prescribed. You may be advised to change your lifestyle, such as get more exercise and eat a healthier diet," further explained Dr Shobha Gupta.
How can you help your body and mind cope with andropause?
Eat a good diet: A healthy diet which includes a balance of vegetables, fruits, meats, fish and dairy product.
Be active: Engage in regular exercise, including aerobic, muscular and flexibility exercises.
Regular health Check-ups: Get regular health check-ups, including cardiovascular, prostate and testicular cancer.
Hormones: Check hormone levels as you get older. Generally, between 40 and 55 several important hormones in a man's body begin to decline.
Reduce stress: Exercise and relaxation help to reduce stress, as does talking to your partner, friends and family about your problems.
Intimacy: Although sex is still important as you go through male menopause, you will start to view sex as a part of a loving relationship which includes friendship, intimacy and sharing.
Sleep: Get plenty of sleep
Men cope differently with menopause. It depends a lot on their personality. Unlike menopause in women, Dr Shobha Gupta believes "more research is needed on andropause, or male menopause, to fully understand it and determine what can be done to help men at this stage in their lives."