Unfortunately, male menopause is a myth.
The term “menopause” only pertains to the female condition in which the ability to reproduce is halted. There is no male menopause if the loss of fertility defines menopause.
In females, the ovaries are endowed at birth with all the eggs it will ever have. Eventually, the eggs run out and the loss of fertility is the start of menopause. In males, the testes are constantly producing sperm and hormones throughout their entire life. This is why older men can still be fertile. While the production of testosterone (the key male hormone) does gradually reduce with age, it is still being produced.
Using a term such as menopause when referring to men is incorrect as men do not menstruate.
A better term to describe the male equivalent to menopause is “andropause.” Hormonal changes naturally accompany the process of aging. In women, the plunge in their hormonal levels past a certain age is called menopause. Similarly, the decrease in men’s testosterone levels (T-levels) as they age is referred to by some as andropause, but more commonly called hypogonadism.
Most men in the U.S over the age of 45 experience low T-levels, but do not associate them with weight gain, sore muscles, lack of libido, insomnia and burn out. Instead, they just assume they are getting old. Aging is inevitable, that is true, and drops in hormone levels go with the territory.
We know that natural hormone decline is responsible for menopause in women and the change to their lives because of it. While most women feel comfortable discussing the misery of their menopause with doctors, friends, and family, most men remain silent about their symptoms related to low T-levels. This openness enables health care providers to provide treatment to help with conditions associated with menopause. If men remain silent about issues or changes, they come across with their bodies as a result of low T-levels, it can lead to more serious issues if left untreated.
What are the symptoms?
- Change in sleep
- Excessive drowsiness
- Physical changes
- Weight gain/increase in body fat
- Tenderness in breast
- Prostate problems
- Loss of body hair
- Reduced muscle mass
- Decrease in bone density
- Low energy, strength, and stamina
- Emotional changes
- Decreased motivation
- Lowered self-confidence
- Increase in depression or sadness
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Change in sexual functioning
- Decreased libido
- Erectile dysfunction
Testosterone levels begin to decrease gradually at roughly 1% a year in a man’s mid-thirties. While menopause will affect every woman, not all men will experience low T-levels.
Drops in testosterone are normal as you age, however, if the testicles do not produce enough testosterone men can experience significant mental and physical changes. This condition is called hypogonadism and can result in serious health problems such as high cholesterol, osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infertility.
It is important that men pay attention to their bodies and openly discuss issues with their physician in order to prevent overlooking the cause of the issue.
Men who experience symptoms should make an appointment with their health care provider. Once a visit is made, the doctor can determine if low testosterone is the cause.
After diagnosis, a treatment plan can be made which may require hormone therapy or medication, but less drastic steps can also help.
Tips to boost levels:
- Lose weight if needed
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Exercise regularly and strength train
- Manage your stress in healthy and positive ways
- Get better sleep
- Take time to do things you enjoy
Men should feel comfortable discussing all aspects of their health. Don’t shy away from seeking help or asking questions. For more information, contact us at Dr. K’s Med Spa.