The effects of menopause in women are well documented. Sexual dysfunction, loss of libido, anxiety, hot flashes, loss of muscle and bone strength and diminished cognition are all common effects of the decline in hormones during menopause. However, recent bodies of evidence are leading some doctors to recognize similar symptoms in their male patients. Although men do not experience the same well-defined period of menopause that women do, physicians are beginning to take more notice of andropause, also known as “male menopause”.
What Is Male Menopause?
For women menopause signals the end of the reproductive portion of a woman’s life, typically occurring during the late 40’s or early 50’s, as the ovaries cease their primary function. Although this transition can be difficult, menopause is a natural part of the aging process.
Men experience a gradual decrease in testosterone as they age, which can result insimilar symptoms to menopause. Approximately 30 percent of men experience male menopause during their mid-50’s. Unlike the ovaries however, the testes never fully stop producing testosterone. As they age, many men also naturally experience fatigue, depression and sexual dysfunction.
The correlation between these symptoms and the decrease in testosterone is not yet fully understood.
Some physicians deny the existence of male menopause as a unique disorder, citing that senior men who are otherwise healthy retain their reproductive ability. Men never completely lose their ability to produce testosterone and therefore do not experience the same sudden decline in hormones as women going through menopause. Acceptance of male menopause is more common in Australia and in some parts of Europe than it is in the US.
While it is true that otherwise healthy men can sometimes develop symptoms of male menopause it is not known if it is due to genetic predisposition, lifestyle or a combination of factors.
Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of male menopause. A doctor may perform a serious of physical exams, including blood testosterone levels to determine if treatment is necessary.