Is there a male menopause?
We always seem to be talking about the menopause here at A.Vogel, from our weekly videos to our ‘7 days to a better menopause’ program, but why don’t we talk about the male menopause?
Technically there is a male menopause of sorts, also known as the andropause. However, male hormones tend to slowly drop over decades, so the symptoms are much less severe than in women. This means that it is much less of a problem for men, though there are some symptoms associated with changing male hormones.
However, some argue that falling testosterone levels are not an inevitable part of ageing, and are mostly associated with declining health in older age. David Handelsman, an Australian researcher claims “By itself, age does not cause a lower testosterone in healthy men. It’s more likely that lowering of testosterone is a consequence of illnesses men acquire as they get older, like cardiovascular disease and obesity”1.
There is still a lot of research being done into this subject, but at the moment the male menopause remains a bit of a controversial topic.
How do male hormones change as you age?
While female hormones begin to drop suddenly over a few years between the ages of 45 and 55, the male hormone, testosterone, actually starts gradually decreasing from around age 30 in the average male. This means that the body has plenty of time to adjust to the changing levels of hormones, so it is rarely associated with any severe symptoms.
However, while the gradual reduction in testosterone means that sudden, severe symptoms are not often experienced, there are obviously a number of symptoms that accompany low levels of testosterone.
What are the symptoms of the andropause?
As levels of testosterone levels drop, men often start to experience a number of sexual problems, as well as psychological and physical changes. Common symptoms of the andropause include:
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- A drop in muscle mass
- An increase in body fat
- Mood swings
However, these symptoms tend to come on gradually, so they are often not noticed at first.
Does the male menopause explain prostate enlargement?
While it is usually connected to age, the exact cause of an enlarged prostate is not fully understood, so making the connection between the andropause and an enlarged prostate can be tricky.
We do know that hormones play some part in the development of an enlarged prostate. When too much testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the prostate can begin to enlarge, and other symptoms like acne or aggression can develop. However, it is not fully understood why an increase in DHT can occur, and what relationship this has with overall falling levels of testosterone.
For more information about enlarged prostate, head to A.Vogel Talks Enlarged Prostate.
Is there a treatment for andropause?
If your symptoms are beginning to affect the quality of your life – for example, if reduced sexual function or libido is harming your relationship or causing depression – then a doctor may prescribe a testosterone replacement. This may come in the form of a skin patch, capsule, gel or injection.
If this is something you are interested in, you should speak to your doctor who will be able to test your testosterone levels and decide if a replacement is suitable.
Natural solutions to the andropause
Some men may not be interested in hormone replacement, just as many women are not keen on HRT during the menopause. In this case, men often look for a more natural, long-term solution. While there isn’t really any way to reverse the lowering of testosterone naturally, there are some ways to manage symptoms.
In fact, natural solutions may in fact be the best solution, if what Handelsman says about testosterone being linked to overall health rather than age is true. This would suggest that improving your diet and lifestyle could improve your testosterone levels.
Zinc is important for testosterone levels, so making sure you get plenty of this may help to support your testosterone levels. Zinc deficiency is fairly common in the modern world as intensive farming strips vital nutrients from the soil – so even if you’re eating well you may still be missing out. Nuts and seeds are great sources of zinc, or you could try a supplement.
For mood problems, there are a few things I can recommend:
- For stress or anxiety, try Stress Relief Daytime
- For low mood, try St John’s Wort. Just be careful if you are on other medication, as St John’s Wort can interfere with medication.
- For general mood issues, try Mood Essence, which can help to balance out negative feelings.
To support your health generally during this time, I would also take a look at your diet and lifestyle. Make sure you are eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and lean sources of protein. Try to cut back on meat, dairy, processed foods and refined sugar.
Make sure to get plenty of exercise. Taking up a new hobby is actually a great way to get some exercise and dispel stress, anxiety and low mood. Try something unusual – how about surfing or kayaking? These have the added bonus of getting you out into the fresh air.
However, cycling also provides a good way to get fresh air and explore your local area, and you can even incorporate it into a holiday. I’ve heard there are some great cycle routes along the River Danube in Austria!
For more tips, read my article on the 10 healthy habits for every man in their 50s.
Is the andropause the same as a mid-life crisis?
Many people assume that mid-life crises in men are the equivalent of the menopause in women. To some extent, falling hormones could play a role in this sudden change, but usually it is related to external and psychological factors.
While many people make fun of the mid-life crisis, assuming that the biggest symptom is a sudden desire to buy a flashy car, but it can actually become a serious problem for some men.
A male mid-life crisis usually occurs when a man starts to become more aware of and worried about his age, and can begin to feel that time is running out. This can trigger problems like stress, anxiety and depression, but it can also trigger sudden changes in behaviour, such as a desire to change career, travel or move to a new country. However, these sudden changes often stem from negative feelings like fear and stress.
If you think you’re experiencing a mid-life crisis, the natural solutions for the andropause can also come in useful for improving general health which can help to lift mood.
1) 'Testosterone Decline: Not Inevitable With Age?'