What is Andropause?
Men between the ages of 40 and 55 years old may notice a decline in their testosterone levels and function, which can be accompanied by symptoms such as decreased sex drive, loss of muscle mass, and increased body fat. This decrease in testosterone levels seen by middle-aged men is commonly referred to as Andropause – or the “male menopause.”
It is important to note that while it is commonly referred to as the “male menopause”, men do not experience an andropause in the same way that women experience menopause. Women’s menopause is very abrupt, with a sharp hormonal change occurring seemingly at random when women reach middle-aged. In contrast, while most men will experience andropause symptoms, these are caused by a very typical decrease in hormone levels gradually over time. Men usually have a 1% decrease in hormone levels every year, starting at around 40 years of age.
While there is no such thing as a “male menopause”, the symptoms of andropause can negatively impact the quality of life of the men who experience them. In this blog we will cover the symptoms, causes and treatments available for andropause, so you can navigate andropause with confidence.
Symptoms of Andropause
The symptoms of andropause are all caused by a decrease in testosterone – a completely normal change that occurs in the body of middle aged men. These symptoms can include:
- Decreased sex drive and erectile dysfuntion. Testosterone plays a crucial role in a persons’ libido and for erections, so as this decreases men may observe a decreased sex drive and erectile dysfuntion.
- Loss of muscle mass and decreased strength. Testosterone promotes muscle growth and mass so men experiencing andropause may notice a decrease in muscle mass and strength.
- Increased body fat and reduced muscle tone. As previously mentioned, testosterone promotes muscle growth, so as this declines men may experience an increase in body fat.
- Loss of energy and stamina. Testosterone plays a large role in red blood cell production, and as testosterone levels decrease so do red cell levels. As a result men may feel more lethargic and tired.
- Mood changes, irritability and depression. Testosterone is a crucial hormone for mood regulation, and men may experiece irritability, mood changes and even depression as testosterone levels decrease.
- Reduction in bone density and elevated risk of fracture. Testosterone also plays a role in bone density, and men may be at increased risk of fracture as testosterone levels decrease.
- Difficulty concentrating and cognitive fogginess. Some studies have shown that a decrease in testosterone can cause a decrease in cognitive function.
- Hot flashes and night sweats. Low testosterone levels confuse the hypothalamus, which is the thermal control center in the brain, causing the brain to believe the body is overheating.
- Breast enlargement and tenderness. Testosterone imbalance allows for a higher percentage of estrogen in the body, which can cause growth of breast tissue.
Causes of Andropause
The primary cause of andropause and its symptoms is age-related testosterone decline. As already mentioned, this is common for all men to experience from around the age of 40 years old, and is not uncommon for men to experience from the age of 30. As men age, the testes produce less testosterone. In addition to this, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland produce less stimulation hormones – the hormones that indicate the testicles to produce more testosterone.
While decreasing testosterone levels are something that virtually all men will experience, contributing factors can also exacerbate the symptoms of andropause. These contributing factors include obesity, chronic stress, alcohol and drug use, and infections, as well as some medications, chronic health conditions and radiation/chemotherapy.
Testosterone levels can also experience a sudden decline in the case of testicular injury or pituitary gland tumours. If you experience a sudden onset of andropause symptoms it is important to see your doctor to find the cause as soon as possible.
Treatment Options for Andropause
Maintaining a healthy & balanced lifestyle has been proven to boost natural testosterone levels and can result in a decrease in symptoms. It is important that as men reach middle-aged they place an emphasis on exerice, strength training, maintaining a healthy weight and diet, limiting alcohol and focusing on stress reduction.
Not only is a healthy lifestyle imperitive for offsetting andropause symptoms, the numerous general health benefits go without saying.
There is some scientific evidence to show that natural supplements can help to mildly boost testosterone levels. Vitamin D3, zinc, fenugreek, ginger, and ashwagandha have all been linked to increased testosterone levels.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
If blood tests confirm low testosterone levels, then testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) could be the best route for you. TRT has been found to improve sexual function, mood, energy, muscle mass and overall health.
The GAP Clinic, based near Birmingham in the UK, is a leading TRT clinic and provides a complete & bespoke andropause treatment plan for men who are experiencing the symptoms associated with low testosterone. The GAP Clinic can provide the following types of TRT:
- Injections administered every 2-3 weeks to provide stable hormone levels. Most men notice improvements in their symptoms in just a few weeks
- Skin patches applied daily to the arm, back, thigh or abdomen. The benefit of these are that there are no injections required, and as the hormone is absorbed through the skin it bypasses the liver
- Topical gels applied to the skin daily. These provide the easy of dosing through a range of concentrations
- Nasal gels absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream
If you are looking for advice regarding andropause treatment, get in touch with The GAP Clinic today.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the variety of medication available to treat low testosterone levels.
The most popular supplement for increasing testosterone is DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). DHEA is converted to testosterone inside the body, and one study reported that middle-aged men who were taking DHEA supplements saw an increase in free testosterone in the blood.
Medications such as clomiphene and other estrogen receptor blocker may help to increase the relative amount of testosterone in the blood. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) can also increase testosterone levels by stimulating the testicles to produce more.
Management of Symptoms
The final option for treating andropause is to treat the symptoms; rather than aiming to increase the body’s testosterone levels, this is focused on only treating the symptoms the person is experiencing.
Erectile dysfunction can be treated with medications such as Viagra, and supplements such as vitamin D, magnesium and calcium can be used to increase bone mineral density. Speak to your doctor if you are experiencing mood changes or depression so you can recieve the support you need.
In summary, andropause is a common age-related condition that affects most men. It causes symptoms such as low libido, muscle loss, fatigue and mood changes. While it is not as abrupt as menopause, andropause can cause a decreased quality of life. There are a number of treatment options available, including lifestyle changes, testosterone replacement therapy, supplements and treatment of specific symnptoms. Personalised andropause treatment and monitoring can improve wellbeing significantly during midlife and beyond.