Contributed by – Rachana Arya
The general perception among most people is that menopause is a women-only condition. Definitely not! If research studies are to be believed, menopause is a guy’s thing, too.
Here’s what you should know.
What is male menopause?
Most people will laugh and say “no way” if you ask them if a man goes through the same thing. But it’s true. Yes, Male menopause does exist! Though not much talked about, men also experience hormonal and sexual function changes as they age. Instead of the term male menopause, many doctors use the term ‘testosterone deficiency syndrome’ or ‘andropause.’ In Greek, ‘andras’ means human male and ‘pause’ means a cessation; so literally ‘andropause’ denotes, in its precise meaning, a decrease in libido (sexual desire) because of decline in testosterone levels.
The rise and fall of testosterone
A male’s testosterone level usually peaks at about age 20, and then it decreases slowly after the age of 40 years. This is when testosterone levels start to decline and the symptoms associated with andropause begin to manifest.
The male hormone testosterone is responsible for many of the physical characteristics specific to adult males such as deep voice, muscle mass, and body hair. It is also associated with sexual drive. As men get older, testosterone levels decrease by approximately 1% each passing year, (typically after the age of 30). However, certain health conditions, lifestyle choices and nutritional factors may also trigger low testosterone levels or ‘low T.’
What you need to know about male menopause
Experts define male menopause as a natural syndrome similar to female menopause. It is important to note that andropause is not the male equivalent to female menopause. Both sexes experience a shift in hormone production as they grow older. But unlike menopause in women, when woman’s ovaries stop hormone production completely, the testosterone decline in men is a slower process that occurs over a period of many years. This means that it doesn’t involve a complete shutdown of the male ‘testicular machinery’ that makes testosterone.
Symptoms that typify menopause
Symptoms of decrease in testosterone differ from men to men. Given that hormone decline in men is so gradual, it may not be noticeable in some men, while others may experience significant changes starting in their middle-aged years. However, it has been observed that most men aren’t even aware of their low testosterone levels and its recognizable symptoms which could include the following:
- Disruptions to sleep patterns
- Diminished mental aggressiveness.
- Changes in sexual function
- Emotional modulations like sadness and depression
- Reduced feeling of well-being
- Physical changes
Additional symptoms of ‘low T’ could include the following:
- Aches and pains in the bones and joints
- Weight gain
- Night sweats
- Memory and cognitive decline
Man Up to menopause
While the symptoms associated with ‘low T’ can seem overwhelming, you can manage your symptoms and their severity with a few simple lifestyle changes like:
- Eating a balanced diet, rich in essential vitamins and nutrients
- Getting regular physical activity
- Getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep
- Managing your stress levels
- Eating good and healthy fats like Omega 3
- Consuming protein rich food
Nothing to panic though
Male menopause may be a catchy phrase, but it isn’t a ‘recognised’ health condition in the same way as female menopause. The existence of a menopause-like process in aging men has been greatly speculated. There is insufficient evidence to define it as a clinical condition that requires medical treatment. The medical community dislikes the terminology, given that men do not have menstrual periods and therefore cannot stop having them (‘Meno’ in Greek means ‘month’ which implies the monthly periods). Whatever the truth, it has given rise to a series of quick-fix pharmaceutical products – from gels to tablets – claiming to rejuvenate men, energize them, and increase their libido. But it is advisable to consult your doctor first before taking any of those products.
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