Menopause in women is usually associated with a sharp decrease in reproductive hormone levels and eventually, hormone production seizes. For men however, research has shown that reduction in testosterone levels happens gradually over a long period of time. This has brought controversy and heated debate, where most medical doctors have opted to refer to the mythical male menopause as andropause or androgen deficiency of the ageing male. This is because in women’s menopause, hormonal changes occur sharply unlike in men where the process is gradual. Furthermore, all women go through menopause, unlike men where not all of them will go through low testosterone levels in their 40’s and older ages.
Cause of male menopause
Naturally, reproductive hormone levels in males start to plunge from early 30’s at a rate of roughly 1% per annum. This is a normal occurrence in all males and naturally, no side effects should be associated with it. Male menopause or andropause on the other hand is usually associated with low testosterone levels that usually bring physical, mental and social side effects in a man’s life. As testosterone levels reduce gradually over the years, there is a threshold (normal range) below which testosterone levels are considered to be too low for an ageing man.
When the hormone levels fall below the threshold, andropause, androgen deficiency or late on-set male hypogonadism occurs. This is what many doctors believe leads to the so called male menopause. Most doctors don’t consider the fall below the threshold as a natural occurrence but rather, research shows that disorders of the pitituitary gland, testicles and brain normally (but not always) lead to the fall. Other factors that may trigger the plunge include unhealthy lifestyle such as excessive drinking and obesity. At this stage, many of the affected men complain of suffering from depression, anxiety, sexual problems such as low libido and poor concentration.
Male menopause does not affect all males and not all males with low testosterone levels will show vivid symptoms. The only sure way of getting the right diagnosis is a blood test. A blood test will give the concentration of testosterone in the blood and the examining doctor will be able to tell whether the levels are within the normal range for your age or not. In some cases, the levels might be below the threshold but the individual is showing no negative symptoms. For such kind of an individual, no treatment is needed. For those who have low concentration of testosterone and have symptoms such as fatigue, depression, weakness and sexual problems, male hormone replacement therapy may be prescribed. The male hormone replacement therapy will increase the levels of testosterone in the blood thus reducing the effects of low concentration that were there before. This however, is not a sure guarantee as more than just testosterone levels may be in play.
Despite it being a famed treatment option among many males, there is controversy surrounding the male hormone replacement therapy. Some medical doctors claim that the therapy is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, heart attack and other ailments. It is therefore strongly advised that you consult your doctor on whether the therapy is ideal for you or not.