Male Andropause: What Is Andropause?
You've probably heard of menopause—the loss of vital sex hormones that typically affects women in their early fifties—but the related condition of andropause is much less well-known. Andropause is the male counterpart to menopause. During andropause, a man's levels of testosterone and male sex hormones gradually decline from their peak, resulting in a range of unpleasant symptoms.
When Does Andropause Begin?
Andropause differs from menopause in a few important ways. First, menopause is characterized by the rapid and precipitous drop of female sex hormones. By contrast, during andropause, a man's testosterone levels drift down slowly and gradually. Some of the typical hallmarks of andropause include:
- Testosterone levels typically begin to decline in a man's mid-thirties.
- Hormone levels decline about 1-2% a year, or about 10-20% per decade.
- The severity of andropause depends on the level of hormone decline.
- For some men, andropause will occur later. For a very few, testosterone production will remain unaffected well into his older years.
- At least 5 million American men are likely suffering from andropause-related symptoms currently, with another 1.5 million expected to begin experiencing symptoms in the next 12 years.
- Symptoms of andropause include weight gain, loss of muscle mass, depression, and increased risk of the diseases of aging, including heart disease, prostate cancer, and diabetes.
Although andropause is sometimes considered a natural consequence of aging, researchers have a good understanding of the underlying conditions that contribute to the drop in testosterone levels. As with other hormone systems, andropause is driven by a disruption in the normal feedback mechanisms that control healthy testosterone production. These include:
- A decrease in pituitary gland function, which lowers levels of luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is the main signaling hormone that stimulates the testes to begin testosterone production.
- In response to reduced LH levels, the testes become less receptive to LH, which further reinforces the decline in testosterone production.
- An increase in the production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG binds to testosterone in the blood, making it unavailable.
Andropause is diagnosed through blood tests. It can be diagnosed if:
- Total testosterone is less than 300 mg/dL
- Free testosterone is less than 5 ng/dl
Your doctor will also have to rule out other causes of low testosterone, including pituitary and testicular diseases.
Once you've been diagnosed with andropause-related low testosterone, you can consider treatment with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). BHRT is designed to support and restore healthy testosterone levels to optimal, youthful levels. It should be administered by a qualified doctor who specializes in testosterone replacement therapy for men.
Unfortunately, a great number of men don't treat their andropause-related testosterone deficiency. The top reasons men let their andropause go untreated include:
- Thinking it's part of normal aging. While andropause is caused by aging, men are not helpless and condemned to watch their vitality and youthful energy slip away. Treatment with BHRT can reverse all the symptoms associated with andropause.
- They don't notice symptoms. Andropause-related symptoms tend to develop slowly, sometimes over the course of twenty years or more. Imagine if a 25-year-old man woke up feeling like a 50-year-old man—symptoms would be much more noticeable.
- Most physicians don't test for andropause. Few doctors are trained to recognize andropause-related symptoms and don't test for it. Instead, they attempt to treat the symptoms themselves, prescribing impotence pills like Viagra and Cialis or antidepressants.
- Most physicians don't know how to treat low testosterone. Even if a doctor recognizes low testosterone, few doctors know how to treat it. BHRT with testosterone should be conducted by a qualified doctor with deep experience in treating low testosterone in men.
The doctors at Genemedics Health Institute specialize in diagnosing and treating low testosterone levels in men. Our physicians have worked with hundreds of patients to recognize hormone deficiencies, including andropause, and design personalized BHRT programs to correct them. To learn more about Genemedics Health Institute, call us today and set up your initial consultation.