Andropause: Everything you need to know about ‘male menopause’

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A natural process, all women experience menopause after the age of 50. “This is caused due to a decline in the set ovarian reserve,” said Dr Anubha Singh, Gynaecologist and IVF Specialist from Shantah Fertility Centre, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. But, did you know that men also experience something similar that is led “by a dramatic drop in their testosterone levels”?

“This is called andropause, or in simple words, male menopause,” Dr Singh told indianexpress.com.

“Despite being common, not much is discussed about the condition. It is natural to see a decrease in the production of the male hormone testosterone as you become older, but it can also happen when you have diabetes. As compared to menopause, andropause is a more gradual menopause. However, there is not much awareness about the same. This could also be because there isn’t much research on the issue, probably owing to the fact that it is not life-threatening. Also, the hormone withdrawal isn’t as extreme as in women. In this case, there are typically other factors at play, in addition to the decline in hormones, such as workplace stress, marriage stress, life management, and lifestyles,” she explained.

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Signs and symptoms

Fatigue, poor libido, and difficulty in concentrating are just a few of the symptoms. Some others include:

· Diminished mental acuity (poor concentration, depressed mood)

· Loss of strength and energy

· Gaining weight, losing muscle and gaining fat

· Depressed moods and/or a lack of zeal and enthusiasm

· Irritability

· Muscle aches and pains (feeling stiffness)

· Sweats or hot flushes

· Hands and feet that are cold

· Itching

· Sexual dysfunction

· Loss of height

Physical activity Staying physically active acts as coping mechanism during andropause. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

What causes andropause?

Testosterone is responsible for a variety of important functions in men. For example, it regulates libido, sperm production, and muscle mass. Testosterone is also important for bone health and blood production. It is produced in the testes and adrenal glands. As men tend to grow old, testosterone levels drop, along with the ability to produce sperm. This leads to andropause.

When do men experience andropause?

Andropause can begin around the age of 40 or even earlier and continues till a man turns 70. “There have been increasing discussions about andropause, but not all doctors and psychologists agree that it is, in a way, male menopause because not all men experience it, and for those who do, they often do not express it,” she added.

Diagnosing and treatment

If you feel the above-mentioned symptoms, then you must visit an expert who will likely do a blood test to measure your testosterone levels. If they are low, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be prescribed. You may be advised to change your lifestyle, such as get more exercise and eat a healthier diet.

How can you help your body and mind cope with andropause?

* Eat a good diet: A healthy diet, which includes a balance of vegetables, fruits, meats, fish and dairy products

* Be active: Engage in regular exercise, including aerobic, muscular and flexibility exercises

* Regular health Check-ups: Get regular health check-ups including cardiovascular, prostate and testicular cancer

* Hormones: Check hormone levels as you get older. Generally, between 40 and 55 several important hormones in a man’s body begin to decline

* Reduce stress: Exercise and relaxation help to reduce stress, as does talking to your partner, friends and family about your problems

* Intimacy: Although sex is still important as you go through male menopause, you will start to view sex as a part of a loving relationship which includes friendship, intimacy and sharing

* Sleep: Get plenty of sleep

Men cope differently with menopause as it depends a lot on their personality. Unlike menopause in women, Dr Singh believes “more research is needed on andropause, or male menopause, to fully understand it and determine what can be done to help men at this stage in their lives.”

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