You may have heard your wife or partner complaining about menopause symptoms – the sleep problems, the decreased libido, and most especially, the dreaded hot flashes. But did you know that men also deal with their own version of menopause? If you find yourself in the midst of a tumultuous midlife crisis, talk to your doctor about whether you could be going through andropause, the male menopause.
What is andropause?
Andropause occurs when testosterone levels drop, a phenomenon also referred to as “low t.” However, unlike menopause for women, andropause in men occurs gradually. Your sex hormones will change over a period of years. Either your body will no longer sustain higher testosterone levels, or there will be a reduction in the bioavailability of testosterone. While this might sound slightly terrifying for some guys, remember that hormonal change is a natural part of aging.
When does andropause happen?
Every man is different, with varying levels of testosterone. Some men may begin to experience a slight decline as early as their 30’s or 40’s. According to The Mayo Clinic, you can generally expect your testosterone levels to drop by about 1% per year. The average 70-year-old man may have a reduction in testosterone of as much as 50%.
Because andropause happens gradually over a period of years, it can be difficult to recognize the symptoms. For example, you might notice that you’ve become depressed, so you might talk to your doctor about taking an antidepressant. Once you’ve got the prescription in hand, you might think that the problem is resolved. But your depression is merely a symptom, not the underlying cause.
Think of your health holistically. Consider all of your symptoms over the last few years or even the last couple of decades and share them with your doctor.
Here’s a few of the possible symptoms of andropause:
You might notice that your testes become smaller. You might have fertility problems, erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, and reduced spontaneous erections.
As previously mentioned, andropause can also cause emotional changes, such as depression or sadness. You might struggle with motivation or self-confidence, and you might have trouble concentrating.
In addition to a reduction in the size of the testes, men going through andropause may gradually notice physical changes like loss of body hair, reduced muscle mass, and increased body fat. Decreased bone density, fatigue, and even hot flashes are possible. You might also experience gynecomastia, which refers to swollen or tender breasts. Sleep disturbances like insomnia or increased sleepiness may also occur.
Talk to your doctor
The symptoms of andropause can interfere with your day-to-day routine and greatly impact your quality of life. But you don’t need to simply live with your symptoms and hope for the best. Treatment is available. Talk to your doctor about using testosterone replacement therapy and natural remedies for andropause.