Sometimes referred to as male menopause, andropause is a dramatic reduction in testosterone production that may occur in middle-aged men.
The term male menopause is a bit misleading. While the onset of menopause in women can be quite sudden, men can start losing their testosterone as early as the age of 35. This gradual reduction means that the resulting symptoms of andropause can slowly build with time.
Doctors began studying the causes and effects of andropause as early as the 1940's, but it has only begun to gain acceptance as a recognized condition by the medical community within the past few years. Currently, about 25 million males between the ages of 40 and 55 may be suffering from an excessive loss of testosterone production otherwise known as andropause.
As men age, their testosterone levels naturally decrease. Low testosterone may also be caused by conditions that affect the testicles, like testicular cancer.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with Andropause include:
It is still uncertain if these conditions are directly caused by low testosterone or if decreased production is simply a result of preexisting conditions. Doctors do believe that the factors are linked. For example, erectile dysfunction is usually the result of restricted arteries, but the condition is almost always accompanied by decreased levels of testosterone.
The most obvious therapy for treating the loss of testosterone levels is to increase them again through Testosterone Replacement Therapy or bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). This increase can be received through a variety of methods. Some of them include:
It's important to note that a provider typically won't utilize all of these hormone delivery methods. The best one for a given situation depends on the needs of the patient and the preference of provider.
In addition to hormone therapy, patients may explore the use of herbal supplements and vitamins. Here are just a few options:
A diet rich in the following may also help:
Decreasing alcohol consumption is also recommended, because excesses of alcohol lead to a build-up of the aromatase enzyme which converts testosterone into estrogen. Fat cells can also lead to aromatase enzymes, so treatment plans always include some form of an exercise regimen to counter these effects.