Andropause, more commonly referred to as ‘male menopause,’ is caused by a gradual decline in testosterone production. Testosterone is the most well-known androgen, a steroid hormone responsible for the development and support of male characteristics.
While the medical community has not yet determined whether men experience a well-defined menopause, it is clear that their bodies undergo a significant decline in hormone production, typically beginning as early as age 40 to 45. Some men will experience a more dramatic decrease in hormone production after age 70. In fact, Baylor College of Medicine reports that by age 70, 70% of men suffer from low testosterone levels.
According to the US Census Bureau, 4-5 million men currently have low testosterone levels but only 5-10% of these men will actually seek treatment. Unlike female menopause, andropause is a gradual decrease in testosterone production, which means that symptoms are often missed. While diminished testicular function is primarily to blame for a decline in testosterone availability, pituitary issues can also be a factor.
Due to the age at which this hormonal decline begins, the symptoms of andropause are often mistaken for natural signs of aging. This is a common misconception. These anabolic hormones are important in supporting both mental and physical aspects of healthy and happy males, however, and the reduced availability of these hormones to the body can set off a host of chronic health issues.
Symptoms of Andropause
Proper hormone levels are responsible for decreasing fatigue, while increasing energy. They also help maintain sex drive, and help preserve the integrity of structural tissues found in skin, muscles, and bones.
Andropause can have a significant impact on your quality of life. In addition to some of the more obvious effects of decreased testosterone production, osteoporosis and cardiovascular risks exist. Common symptoms of andropause can include:
- Decreased libido and sexual dysfunction
- Reduction in muscle mass
- Increase in body fat
Testing for Andropause
Andropause is not an unusual occurrence. Approximately half of men will experience clinical ramifications of low testosterone sometime after their fortieth birthday- some even sooner.
Hormonal imbalances associated with specific symptoms can be recognized through saliva and blood spot tests. An accurate assessment of current hormone levels through saliva testing can identify the degree to which testosterone levels are deficient. Blood spot can determine testosterone levels available to the cells. Complete and accurate testing will facilitate the development of a personalized, comprehensive treatment plan for each client.
Although it may be impossible to avoid the onset of andropause symptoms, several therapy options are available to mitigate their impact and help you feel your best.
Studies Link Low Testosterone to Higher Mortality
Men with low testosterone face a higher mortality rate. A 2006 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that 35% of men with low testosterone died during an 8-year period – compared to 20% of men with normal levels of testosterone. Another German study found that men with low serum testosterone actually had an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. They also seemed to have a higher rate of developing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and hypertension. In fact, men with low testosterone levels had a 2.6% greater risk of dying during the next 10 years compared with men who had normal levels of testosterone.
If you are suffering from low testosterone or have symptoms that you believe could be contributed to low testosterone production, it is important to be seen by a qualified healthcare professional. There are treatments available that can help men suffering from andropause to live a long and healthy life – as well as, get back some of your energy and improve your sex life at the same time!