" In middle age many men seem to go through something that's been labelled the mid-life crisis. More recently this cluster of distressing physical and emotional symptoms has been linked to the female menopause - but does the male menopause exist?"
Strictly speaking men can't have a menopause as such, since the definition of the menopause is the time at which periods cease. In women, ovulation ceases and female hormone production plummets over a relatively short time frame. In men, there's a gradual decline in the production of male hormones. However, it's argued that they can go through a male equivalent, called the andropause, that's accompanied by symptoms similar to those experienced by women.
The existence of andropause is recognised by some of the best researchers in medical science, including the international medical community. In fact, a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report, states that male androgens progressively decline with age. The study tested androgen levels at age 25 and by age 70, androgen levels were only 10 percent of what they were during youth.
Declining levels of testosterone and DHEA are commonly seen in men beginning in the fourth decade of life. Testosterone and DHEA are particularly important anabolic building hormones in men, as they are the major players in maintaining both physical and mental health. For example, they increase energy and decrease fatigue; they help in maintaining erectile function and normal sex drive; and they increase the strength of all structural tissues in the skin, bones, and muscles, including the heart. Proper levels of androgens also help to prevent depression and mental fatigue. The male menopause appears when the sex hormones start declining. It is a normal part of ageing, although, for some men it is accompanied by a gradual and undesired decline in their sexuality, mood and overall energy. It can affect their marriage and their job.
‘It can happen to the most masculine of men. There’s nothing wimpish about it.’
Signs and symptoms of low testosterone can include:
- Reduced sexual desire
- A decrease in spontaneous erections (such as during sleep)
- Swollen or tender breasts (gynecomastia)
- Loss of body and pubic hair
- Small or shrinking testes
- Height loss and thinning bones
- Reduced muscle bulk and strength
- Hot flushes and sweats
Other signs and symptoms can include:
- Decreased energy, motivation and self-confidence
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Poor concentration and memory
- Sleep apnea or other sleep problems
- A low red blood cell count (mild anemia)
- Increased body fat
- Diminished physical or work performance
- Free Androgen Index
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