What Is Male Menopause?
Women may not be the only ones who suffer the effects of changing hormones. Some doctors are noticing that men are reporting some of the same symptoms that women experience in perimenopause and menopause.
Because men do not go through a well-defined period referred to as menopause, some doctors refer to this problem as androgen (testosterone) decline in the aging male — or what some people call low testosterone. Men do experience a decline in the production of the male hormone testosterone with aging, but this also occurs with conditions such as diabetes.
Along with the decline in testosterone, some men experience symptoms that include:
- Sexual problems
Unlike menopause in women, when hormone production stops completely, testosterone decline in men is a slower process. The testes, unlike the ovaries, do not run out of the substance it needs to make testosterone. A healthy man may be able to make sperm well into his 80s or later.
However, as a result of disease, subtle changes in the function of the testes may occur as early as age 45 to 50 and more dramatically after the age of 70 in some men.
Low Testosterone Signs and Symptoms
Specific Signs and Symptom
- Incomplete or delayed sexual development
- Reduced sexual desire (libido) and activity
- Decreased sportaneous erections
- Breast discomfort, breast enlargement
- Loss of body (armpot and pubic) hair reduced shaving
- Very small or shrinking testes
- Inability to father children, low or zero sperm count
- Height loss, low trauma fracture, low bone mineral density
- Hot flashes sweats
Less Specific Signs and Symptoms
- Feeling sad or blue, depressed mood
- Poor concentration and memory
- Sleep disturbance, increased sleepiness
- Increased body fat, body mass index
- Reduced muscle bulk and strength
- Diminished physical or work performance
The Endocrine Society has indentified several conditions commonly associated with low testosterone
- End-stage renal disease
- Moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) a lung disease
- Type 2 diabetes
If you have any of these medical conditions identified by the Endocrine Society, you may be at a higher risk for low testosterone. There are a number of other factors that could be an indicator of low testosterone.
How Is Male Menopause Diagnosed?
To make the diagnosis of male menopause, the doctor will:
- Perform a physical exam
- Ask about symptoms
- Order tests to rule out medical problems that may be contributing to the condition
- Order blood tests, which may include measuring testosterone level
Can Male Menopause Be Treated?
If testosterone levels are low, testosterone replacement therapy may help relieve symptoms such as:
- Loss of interest in sex (decreased libido)
Just as with hormone replacement therapy in women, testosterone replacement therapy has potential risks and side effects. Replacing testosterone may worsen prostate cancer, for example.
If you are considering androgen replacement therapy, come in and see Dr. Rogers. She may also recommend certain lifestyle or other changes to help with some symptoms of male menopause. These include:
- Exercise program
- Medications, such as an antidepressant