Andropause and Hormonal Treatment for Men
Andropause and Hormonal Treatment for Men
Most women have some context for menopause whether they have talked about it with their mother or friends or experienced it themselves. Men experience similar hormone changes in their late adult years, but it can feel more elusive than menopause. Andropause is often compared to menopause. It starts at a similar time as menopause, but it is a much more gradual process, and not all men experience it.
What is Andropause?
Andropause is a common condition in older men. Andropause is also referred to as male menopause and late-onset male hypogonadism. This condition is diagnosed based on symptoms that suggest testosterone deficiency. Testosterone is a hormone which causes voice changes, increased muscle mass and different facial hair and body hair patterns. After the age of 30, sperm cells stop producing as much - it is said that sperm production decreases 10% every decade after a man reaches that age.
Unlike hormone changes women experience during menopause, the decrease in testosterone levels is much more gradual during andropause. Approximately 30% of men will start to experience andropausal symptoms after the age of 50.
What Causes Andropause?
The main cause of andropause is the decrease of testosterone levels in men, but this is not the only hormone that affects andropause. A hormone called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) begins to increase during andropause. SHBG’s job is to pull usable testosterone from the bloodstream. The testosterone that is not bound to SHBG is known as bioavailable testosterone which means the body is able to utilize it. Due to increased levels of SHBG, there is less bioavailable testosterone in the bloodstream, which means testosterone levels are lower. This results in mental and physical symptoms of andropause.
Along with this, lifestyle habits can cause andropause to happen more rapidly. Chronic disease, obesity, illness, serious emotional stress, and certain medications can cause a more rapid decline of testosterone.
Symptoms of Andropause
While some andropausal symptoms are similar to menopausal symptoms for women, most are different. The overlapping symptoms tend to be experienced more acutely in women than men. Symptoms men might experience during andropause include:
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Low Sex Drive
- Lack of Energy
- Loss of Muscle Mass/Strength
- Hot Flashes
- Increased Body Fat
- Decreased Bone Density (Risk of Osteoporosis)
- Reduced Libido
These symptoms can reduce quality of life. However, there are ways to try to prevent andropause from impacting your life.
Methods of Prevention
The most significant difference between menopause and andropause is the potential to not experience andropause at all! Experiencing andropause is dependent on lifestyle. While some men cannot prevent andropause from occurring, others can and here’s how.
The first thing to monitor is the amount of exercise you get. The more consistently you exercise, the less likely you are to experience andropause. When you keep your body physically active and fit, it allows for healthier blood flow and overall body function.
It is also important to monitor the amount of sleep you’re getting. The body uses sleep to regenerate. The recommended amount of sleep for an adult male is between 7 and 9 hours every night. If you make an extra amount of effort to get the sleep your body needs at night, it will function better during the day.
Monitoring your diet can boost your health as well. The healthier you eat (high protein, low sugar, avoid high cholesterol and keep plenty of fruits and veggies in the diet) the easier time your body has to operate.
Tying into your diet, monitoring your alcohol levels can help to keep your blood regulated. Alcohol consumption may affect testosterone levels. Avoiding large amounts of alcohol avoids testosterone fluctuations.
While everyone experiences stress, high levels of stress can cause andropause symptoms. There is no way to completely avoid stress in your life, but doing your best to avoid especially high stress situations can help lower the chances of andropause onset.
Treatment for Andropause
Before seeking out treatment for andropause, take the time to visit your doctor and have a discussion about the symptoms you’re experiencing. There may be different treatment options available. Some men experiencing andropause are prescribed antidepressants or anxiety medication as opposed to jumping straight to hormonal treatments. Your doctor will likely run blood tests to check your testosterone levels. If your testosterone is below optimal levels, you and your doctor may review solutions and treatments in order to restore your quality of life.
Not all men who are going through andropause receive hormonal treatment; in fact most men go through andropause without any treatment. There are natural, non-hormonal options that are available. Rosebud Woman’s Manpower herbal supplement supports androgen production without hormones. However, after talking to your doctor about your symptoms, they may prescribe hormonal treatments for andropause.
All andropausal hormonal treatments are variations of testosterone introduced to your body in different formats:
- Injections - Testosterone is injected into your muscles every 2 - 4 weeks. Both testosterone cypionate and testosterone enanthate are used in this method of treatment.
- Pills - Pills are taken twice daily. Your doctor will likely not prescribe this treatment if you suffer from liver disease, heart or kidney disease, or excess calcium as it will put you at risk.
- Gels - Apply a hormone gel directly to the skin which is absorbed through the skin.
- Patches - Patches are applied to the skin to slowly release levels of testosterone throughout the day. These patches are applied once a day.
- Pellet Therapy - This is an injection of a small rice sized pellet into the skin that releases testosterone as it dissolves into the skin. These pellets are injected every 3-6 months by a healthcare professional.
While these treatments have proven efficacy, there are risks that come with all of them. Have an in-depth conversation with your doctor in order to discuss the benefits and risks considering all your personal health factors. If you are experiencing breast or prostate cancer, you should not take hormonal treatments.
Andropause is not as widely known as menopause, but everyone deserves to be educated about their bodies and treatment options. If you’re experiencing andropause, you are not alone, and you should not feel shy discussing what you are going through. Take care of your body at every stage of life.