Male Menopause: Myth or Reality?
Jun 5, 2017 - 1:23:27 PM
The term "male menopause" is sometimes used to describe decreasing testosterone levels related to aging. Female menopause and so-called male menopause are two different situations, however.
In women, ovulation ends and hormone production plummets during a relatively short period of time. In men, production of testosterone and other hormones declines over a period of many years and the consequences aren't necessarily clear.
So what's the best way to refer to so-called male menopause? Many doctors use the term "andropause" to describe aging-related hormone changes in men. Other terms include testosterone deficiency syndrome, androgen deficiency of the aging male and late-onset male hypogonadism.
Testosterone levels vary greatly among men. In general, older men tend to have lower testosterone levels than do younger men. Testosterone levels gradually decline throughout adulthood — about 1 percent a year after age 30 on average.
A blood test is the only way to diagnose a low or reduced testosterone level. Some men have a lower than normal testosterone level without signs or symptoms. In this case, no treatment is needed.
Recognizable signs and symptoms of low testosterone levels may include:
Some of these signs and symptoms can be caused by underlying factors other than low testosterone, including medication side effects, thyroid problems, depression and excessive alcohol use. There also are conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea that might affect testosterone levels. Once these conditions are identified and treated, testosterone typically will return to a normal level.
If you are experiencing signs and symptoms that might be the result of a low testosterone level, consult your doctor. He or she can evaluate possible causes for the way you feel and explain treatment options.
You can't boost your natural testosterone production, but these steps might help:
Treating aging-related low testosterone with testosterone replacement therapy is controversial.
For some men, testosterone therapy relieves bothersome signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency. For others, the benefits aren't clear and there are possible risks.
Among the risks, testosterone therapy contributes to sleep apnea, stimulates noncancerous growth of the prostate and stimulates growth of existing prostate cancer. Testosterone therapy may also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke and contributes to the formation of blood clots in the veins.
If you wonder whether testosterone replacement might be right for you, work with your doctor to determine why your testosterone level is low and whether it is causing your symptoms. Weigh the pros and cons of treatment together with your doctor.