Menopause? Isn’t that something that happens only to women? Women experience menopause when their periods stop. This is because with aging, the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone. Men also experience a similar decline in the production of testosterone as they age and this is referred to in some medical circles as male menopause or andropause. This decline in hormone production can occur from late 40s. While in female menopause hormonal production stops completely in a relatively short period, male menopause is characterized only by a gradual reduction in hormonal production over a period of many years.
Other symptoms of male menopause, which are also symptoms of aging, include:
- Loss of sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Mood swings and irritability
- Insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or increased tiredness
- Poor concentration and short-term memory
- Reduced muscle mass
- Swollen or tender breasts
Low testosterone levels can go unnoticed as men do not regularly undergo tests. A series of blood tests and a test of the pituitary gland can be used to diagnose a reduction in testosterone levels and eliminate other hormonal deficiencies.
Some men choose to undergo testosterone replacement therapy to increase their levels of testosterone. However, replacement therapy comes with some risks:
- Worsens prostate cancer
- May increase the risk of stroke and heart attack
- May contribute to the formation of blood clots in the veins through excess stimulation of red blood cells
- Worsens sleep apnea (a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep)
- Causes acne or other skin reactions
- Limits sperm production or causes testicles to shrink
To boost your testosterone levels, your doctor may recommend alternatives such as exercise, diet change and supplements.