Now here’s something you don’t hear every day: male menopause. That’s right. Male menopause is indeed real. And it can happen to any male. Some doctors are noticing that their male patients are reporting some of the same symptoms women experience during menopause. However, the hormonal changes in men occur gradually.
Aside from male menopause, this phase in men goes by other names. Many doctors use the term andropause. Other terms include androgen deficiency of the aging male, late-onset male hypogonadism, and testosterone deficiency syndrome.
What Is Male Menopause?
There is no defined period that can be referred to as menopause. Therefore, doctors label this this problem as androgen or testosterone decline in males as they age. That means there is a decline in testosterone content in males.
So how low is low? According to the Urology Care Foundation, testosterone levels that are below 300 ng/dL are typically considered low.
Testosterone is a hormone produced in the testes. It fuels the sex drive, assists in changes during puberty, boosts the mental and physical energy, maintains muscle mass, and regulates the flight-or-fight response.
Testosterone levels differ among men. Before you hit puberty, your testosterone levels are low. When you start to sexually mature, the levels start to increase. As soon as you hit puberty, testosterone is involved in changes among males. These include getting body hair, lowering of the voice, getting muscle mass, and having changes in sexual functioning.
As you get older, testosterone levels gradually decline. You lose about 1 percent a year after the age of thirty.
Male Menopause vs. Women Menopause
One of the main differences of male menopause from women menopause is not all males experience it. Another difference is it doesn’t completely shut down the reproductive organs. Yet another difference is female menopause sets in quickly, while male menopause happens gradually, even developing over decades.
Male Menopause Symptoms
With the decline in testosterone, male menopause causes physical, sexual, and also psychological problems. The signs to watch out for are decrease in energy, bouts of depression or sadness, lower self-confidence, and a reduction in self-motivation.
Other symptoms include difficulty in concentrating and sudden insomnia or difficulty sleeping. The physical signs are more obvious. There is a decrease in muscle mass and feelings of physical weakness, reduced libido, infertility, decrease in bone density, increased body fat, and erectile dysfunction.
Also, male menopause results in loss of body hair, swollen or tender breasts, decreased testicle size, or hot flashes.
The only way to check if there is indeed a drop in your testosterone levels is to get a blood test. There are also other options, like getting a physical exam, your doctor asks if you’ve experienced any of the symptoms listed above, or the performance of other tests to rule out other medical problems that may possibly cause the symptoms you experience.
Boosting Testosterone Levels
There are plenty of ways to increase testosterone levels. There are natural options as well as clinical options. Below are some examples that you can possibly explore.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)
This is considered as the primary treatment for the declining levels of testosterone. It is a hormone replacement therapy in which androgens, most often testosterone, are replaced. However, there is a lot of controversy involving this. Yes, it has helped some male patients, but there are risks involved, especially for men with heart disease and prostate cancer. Also, TRT may not improve the symptoms of male menopause.
There are many ways to get testosterone replacement. You can do skin patches (transdermal) and place them on the arm or the upper body. You apply it once a day. Testosterone gels are absorbed directly through the skin. You apply them once a day as well. You can also use mouth patches and apply them twice a day. They continuously release testosterone into the blood via the oral tissues. You can also inject testosterone directly into the muscle. Another option is you can implant them as pellets in the soft tissue. The body then absorbs the testosterone into the bloodstream. Another way to replace testosterone is with testosterone pills. However, there are experts who believe these have negative effects on the liver.
This vitamin has positive effects on testosterone levels. Studies show that men who have a lower vitamin D intake have lower testosterone levels. Also, the testes have vitamin D receptors. This suggests that this vitamin may play a role on testosterone production. You can go ahead and get a good amount of UV light from sun exposure or vitamin D supplements.
Studies show that having less of this mineral in the body decreases baseline testosterone levels. In order to convert free cholesterol into testosterone more effectively, combine zinc with vitamin B6 and magnesium. Large doses of zinc actually stops the body from absorbing other essential vitamins and minerals.
DHEA is a hormone that is naturally in the adrenal glands. It can naturally convert itself to testosterone. Also, DHEA supplements reduces the general effects of ageing. Take note that ageing is one of the causes of a decrease in testosterone.
Many studies are ongoing on this not-so-common herb from South Africa. Research shows it has a positive effect on testosterone levels. Supplements made with this herb increases circulating testosterone. Specifically, two testosterone-inducing hormones increase: the follicle-stimulating hormones and the luteinizing hormones. Take note, however, that there is a toxicological bell curve with this herb.
Cutting down on your alcohol intake will greatly improve your testosterone levels, most especially if you drink too much. Hops, the main flavoring and stability agent in beer, contains a very powerful phytoestrogen. The body converts hops into oestrogen, which causes testosterone levels to drop. Additionally, this may also lead to testicular atrophy, which is the hardening of the testicles because of oestrogen dominance.
This is one of the easiest and most effective natural way of helping to boost low testosterone. Research shows that high-intensity exercise paired with intermittent fasting boosts testosterone levels by increasing satiety hormones. These are insulin and leptin, and they aid in testosterone production, manage testosterone decline due to age, and also increase libido.
Of course, as with any other medical concern, make sure to properly consult with a licensed physician with regard to whatever condition it is you’re feeling. They are the best people to decide which of these forms will be most effective and beneficial for you in helping with male menopause.