Men’s Hormones and Andropause

Andropause, the male equivalent of menopause, is caused by the slow decline of testosterone levels in men as they grow older.  Despite sharing a similar name, it is only somewhat similar to menopause.  Menopause causes a sudden decline in hormone productoin, where andropause is instead a gradual decline in testosterone production.  Andropause is a serious condition, but it is not as well known or recognized as menopause.

Beginning around age 30, men start to produce less testosterone, which causes their levels to start to slowly decline.  Typically, men begin to lose 1% testosterone per year, though it could possibly be as high as 3% per year.  Men who are more often exposed to estrogen are at a higher risk of suffering from andropause than normal, as an increased amount of estrogen may result in lower levels of testosterone.  A lower testosterone level means this natural decline may push you into low testosterone levels sooner.

Some medical professionals argue that andropause is not a legitimate medical condition, because it does not mirror menopause with its sharp and sudden hormonal decline.  Despite these arguments, the gradual decline of testosterone in men is certainly a real problem and one that should not be ignored.  Low testosterone, if left unchecked, can cause numerous problems and may even be life threatening.

Signs That a Man May be Suffering from Andropause

Andropause is a serious condition that is beginning to affect men at even younger ages, and is a clear sign that testosterone levels are reaching dangerous lows.  If left untreated, andropause can even lead to life threatening conditions.  Luckily, there are many symptoms that can hint at the presence of andropause.  These signs may usually be attributed to aging, but in many cases they are actually caused by low levels of testosterone.

The early signs of andropause include:

Mood swings

Testosterone is important for regulating your mood, and it can be difficult for you to maintain a consistent one when your testosterone levels dip.  Erratic and unpredictable mood swings are common in men suffering from andropause, as well as feelings of anxiety, irritability, and aggressiveness.

Depression

Men with low testosterone are at a higher risk of suffering from depression.  Andropause can cause these feelings due to the low levels of testosterone associated with it.

Reduced or absent sex drive

Testosterone is most often referred to as the male sex hormone for a good reason.  Testosterone is the hormone that is most responsible for regulating your sex drive.  When suffering from andropause, you may notice a sharp decline in your desire to have sex, or a complete absence of it.

Sudden weight gain or muscle loss

Testosterone is needed for your body to properly manage metabolism, and without adequate levels of it, your body may break down muscle instead of fat for energy.  When your body has enough testosterone, youwill burn more fat and less muscle, but when you lack it, you could notice a sudden jump in fat while the muscle you have wastes away.  Andropause can cause these unpleasant changes in body structure.

Difficulty remembering things, focusing, or concentrating

Testosterone is important for your body’s structure, but your brain also needs it.  Men who suffer from andropause may find it difficult to remember things, focus on a particular task, or concentrate on just about anything.

Causes

Andropause is typically caused by aging – more specifically, the gradual loss of testosterone that is associated with growing older.  However, there are some factors that may increase the risk of developing andropause.

Excessive use of alcohol, poor diet,  lack of sleep, lack of sex,certain medications,  chronic stress, and surgery or illness are all factors that increase the risk of developing andropause sooner than normal.  Men who are exposed to increased amounts of female hormones because of work or other reasons may also be at increased risk.  Men who work with pharmaceuticals, plastics, or pesticides may have a higher chance of developing andropause early.

Treatments

Andropause is associated with low testosterone, so treatments that increase testosterone levels may be effective for treating andropause and its symptoms.  Hormone replacement therapy is a good choice when looking to improve your hormone levels.  Hormone replacement therapy is supervised by medical professionals who can frequently and accurately measure your hormone levels and prescribe differing amounts of testosterone based on your needs.

Ignoring andropause is dangerous.  Living with low testosterone may increase your risk of developing heart disease or diabetes.  Hormone replacement therapy can be used to treat it, or used preventatively to stop andropause from occurring in the first place.  The most important step of treating andropause is to not simply ignore the symptoms and believe they are a natural sign of growing older.   The risks of living with low testosterone could greatly reduce the quality of your life and could even put it at risk.