Is the “male menopause” a real thing? As we age, hormone changes become part and parcel of our lives, and some may experience the side effects more than others. The “male menopause” is a term that is often used to describe a decline in testosterone as males age. In men, these hormone changes are much more gradual and the side effects are often not felt as intensely as they would be in women. Here’s what you need to know.
What is “male menopause”?
“Male menopause” is a term that is used to describe the gradual decline of testosterone in males. The cause of testosterone decline is ageing, and often this decline occurs slowly and gradually over time. The experience of hormone changes in both men and women therefore is quite different.
In men, testosterone decline occurs over many years and often men will not experience any notable symptoms, or symptoms that will cause them too much grief. This decline in testosterone is sometimes referred to as “late onset hypogonadism” or “age related low testosterone.”
In women, the menopause starts one year after their last menstrual cycle. Ovulation (the release of the egg) stops and the production of hormones stops over a short period of time. Generally speaking, women tend to experience much more notable symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain and mood changes.
Read on to find out about the symptoms of the “male menopause”.
What are the causes of “male menopause”?
The “male menopause” is caused by the natural processes of ageing. As a man gets older, their testosterone levels begin to decline.
From the age of 40, male testosterone levels decline by 1% each year. This is not a fact that you should worry about, as this decline is relative to your unique testosterone levels, i.e. if you start from a point of healthy testosterone levels, you probably won’t even notice that it is happening. The majority of older males will continue to have normal testosterone levels despite the steady decline. 10-40% of males in the United States are living with low testosterone levels according to Urology Times.
Symptoms of low testosterone levels
The symptoms of low testosterone include:
- Reduced sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased spontaneous erections
- Weight gain
- Height loss
- An increase risk of low trauma fractures and/or low bone mineral density
- Swelling of the breast tissue
- Hot flushes or sweats
Some associated symptoms of low testosterone include fatigue, changes to confidence levels, poor concentration, reduced muscle mass, sleep disturbances and anemia.
The symptoms of the “male menopause” or low testosterone often goes unnoticed, however they can be detected using a blood test. Testosterone blood tests are not routinely recommended for men who are not experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone.
The symptoms of low testosterone may also be easily confused with the symptoms of other health conditions, taking certain medications, lifestyle changes and weight.
Should you test your hormones?
Testing your hormones can offer vital insights into your overall health, however, it is only recommend that older men test their testosterone levels if they are experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone.
If low testosterone is confirmed, further testing of the pituitary gland is recommended to determine the cause and rule out other hormone deficiencies. The pituitary gland is a kidney-bean-sized gland situated at the base of your brain. It is part of your body’s endocrine system, which consists of all the glands that produce and regulate hormones.
Is there a treatment for “male menopause”?
The most common treatment for “male menopause” or low testosterone is testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
According to Mayo Clinic, your doctor will likely recommend against starting testosterone therapy if your fertility is important in the near future or if you have conditions such as breast or prostate cancer, untreated severe obstructive sleep apnea, uncontrolled heart failure or thrombophilia, or if you’ve recently had a heart attack or stroke.
- Male menopause: Myth or reality? - mayoclinic.org
- Testosterone levels show steady decrease among young US men - urologytimes.com
- A Population-Level Decline in Serum Testosterone Levels in American Men -academic.oup.com
- LetsGetChecked At Home Testosterone Test - letsgetchecked.com