Andropause and osteoporosis are two conditions that have a close relationship and that both occur in males. This may come as a surprise to some men. Although osteoporosis is often thought of as a woman’s disease, associated with a dramatic decline in estrogen levels, men are not off the hook.
The andropause and osteoporosis relationship is a significant challenge for men to address, and the underlying cause of both of these conditions concerns testosterone. The male hormone testosterone plays a significant role in maintaining bone density. Therefore, as testosterone levels decline, men are at risk of developing osteoporosis and with it, an increased risk of fracture.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation:
- 25 percent of men older than 50 will break a bone due to thinning of the bones, or osteoporosis
- Approximately 2 million men in the United States have osteoporosis
- About 12 million men are at risk of osteoporosis
- Among men older than 50, more are likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than they are to develop prostate cancer
Osteoporosis can also lead to rounding of the shoulders, a loss of height, and back pain. Men should also be aware that lifestyle choices can have an impact on development of osteoporosis as well. Some of those lifestyle choices include lack of physical exercise, smoking, excessive use of alcohol, poor nutrition, and use of certain medications, such as anticonvulsants and immunosuppressives.
It also appears that the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) increases as testosterone levels decline in men. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, for example, evaluated 99 men who had signs and symptoms of andropause, including testosterone deficiency. The investigators found that compared with controls, men with male menopause had an increase in carotid artery intima-media thickness, which is a sign of atherosclerosis. Therefore, not only is there a relationship between andropause and osteoporosis, but atherosclerosis is another health challenge associated with a decline in testosterone.
Makinen J et al. Increased carotid atherosclerosis in andropausal middle-aged men. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2005 May 17; 45(10): 1603-8