It is a known fact that women have menopause usually around the age of 45-50 years, but what is not known is that men between the age of 40 and 55 experience a similar phenomenon called Andropause. Unlike women, men do not have clear-cut symptoms such as the cessation of menstruation to mark this changeover. However, the change is apparent in the drop in hormonal levels i.e. estrogen in women and testosterone in men. This change in men may be much gradual as compare to women and spread over many decades.
Attitude, psychological stress, alcohol, injuries or surgery, medications, obesity and infections can contribute to its onset. Usually with age, a decline in testosterone levels occurs in all men, but there is no way of predicting the age (at which the symptoms would set in) and at severity. The bodily changes occur very gradually in men and may be accompanied by changes in attitudes, moods, fatigue, loss of energy, sex drive and physical agility. The symptoms mat vary from person to person.
Andropause has been under-diagnosed over the years because the symptoms appear vaguely and vary a lot among individuals. Some men find it difficult to even admit that there’s a problem and often physicians conclude that symptoms were related to other medical conditions such as depression or simply related to aging. Low testosterone level is often over-looked.
Impact of low testosterone level
Testosterone level starts to drop by 10 percent every decade from the age of about 30 years. With less testosterone availability, the testosterone target-organ response decreases, bringing about many changes. These changes may include:
- Low sex drive
- Emotional, psychological and behavioural changes
- Decreased muscle mass
- Loss of muscle strength
- Increased upper and central body fat
- Osteoporosis or weak bones and back pain
- Cardiovascular risk
These symptoms can impact quality of life and may expose an individual to other, longer-term risks of low-testosterone. It is estimated that 30 percent of men in their 50s will have testosterone levels low enough to be causing symptoms or putting them at risk.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
In various clinical studies, very good response to testosterone has been reported for men with low-testosterone. Benefits include:
- Improvement in mood and sense of well-being
- Increased mental and physical energy
- Decreased anger, irritability, sadness, tiredness, nervousness
- Improved quality of sleep
- Improved libido and sexual performance
- An increase in lean body mass, a decline in fat mass
- An increase in muscle strength (hand grip, upper and lower extremities)
- Decreased risk of heart disease
These effects are usually noted within 3 to 6 weeks. However, only a doctor can judge whether testosterone replacement therapy is required or not.
Any treatment recommended to reduce symptoms and risks of andropause should include lifestyle approaches such as optimal diet, regular exercise, stress management and reduction in consumption of tobacco and alcohol intake.