The word menopause means the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Women are officially in menopause once they have had a full year without a period, usually between the ages of 40 and 50.
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. There is a large decline in the reproductive hormones produced by her ovaries and they no longer release egg cells.
Menopause brings about uncomfortable symptoms like hot flushes, insomnia, mood irregularities and a decreased metabolism. The decrease in estrogen leads to a decrease in bone density as well.
Menopause in women is a normal part of life, and the discomfort can be managed by hormone replacement therapy and lifestyle changes.
So What Is Male Menopause?
Although men don’t have menstrual cycles that can end to mark the start of menopause, they do sometimes experience a gradual drop in testosterone levels later in life, known as andropause or late-onset hypogonadism.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It is responsible for various physiological functions, including the development of male reproductive tissues, muscle mass, bone density, and the regulation of mood and energy levels.
As men age, typically starting around the age of 40 or 50, testosterone levels may begin to decrease. This decline in testosterone can lead to a range of uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms:
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fatigue and reduced energy.
- Mood changes
- Decreased muscle mass and bone density
- Increased body fat
- Sleep disturbances
Using The Right Terminology
The term "male menopause" or sometimes colloquially “manopause” is not universally accepted within the medical community.
Although the changes are related to a decrease in hormones, men do not have menstrual cycles that can end. Additionally, the changes in hormone levels seen in men are not as abrupt or drastic as the hormonal changes seen in female menopause.
So what should we call it instead?
If a man is experiencing symptoms that he believes could be related to changes in hormone levels, it's recommended to consult a healthcare professional. A doctor can perform blood tests to measure hormone levels and provide guidance on potential treatments. Once they know what the cause of the symptoms is, they will provide a diagnosis that will relate to a decline in testosterone levels or possibly andropause.
Essentially, what the condition is called will depend on the diagnosis by your doctor.
How Is Low Testosterone Diagnosed?
Diagnosing low testosterone involves considering the man’s symptoms and medical history, and conducting a physical exam. In the UK, doctors rely on blood tests, often taken in the morning when testosterone levels are highest.
These tests measure total testosterone levels and sometimes free testosterone, the biologically active form. Additional hormone tests may be ordered to rule out other causes.
Diagnosis hinges on both symptoms and test results, as testosterone naturally decreases with age. If low testosterone is confirmed, a doctor will discuss suitable treatments based on your individual needs.
How Is Low Testosterone Managed?
Low testosterone can be managed through a variety of approaches, depending on the underlying cause, the severity of symptoms, and your overall health.
- Consuming a balanced diet rich in nutrients can support overall hormonal balance.
- Engaging in regular physical activity, including resistance training and aerobic exercises, can help boost testosterone levels.
- Maintaining a healthy weight can positively impact testosterone levels, as excess body fat is associated with lower testosterone.
- Getting enough quality sleep is important for hormone regulation, including testosterone.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Testosterone replacement therapy involves administering testosterone through injections, gels, patches, or implants. Testosterone replacement therapy can help alleviate symptoms associated with low testosterone.
If you are on testosterone replacement therapy, regular monitoring of hormone levels through blood tests is essential to ensure that the prescribed dosage is appropriate.
Natural Supplements And Medications
Some herbal supplements, such as fenugreek, ashwagandha, and tribulus terrestris, are believed to have the potential to boost testosterone. However, scientific evidence for their effectiveness is limited and varies.
The medicine Clomiphene Citrate can stimulate the body to produce more testosterone by increasing the production of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Similar to clomiphene citrate, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) can stimulate the testes to produce more testosterone.
Counselling And Support
In addition to its mood-altering effects, having low testosterone can affect your mental health. If you are experiencing the emotional or psychological effects of low testosterone, counselling or therapy may be beneficial.
When you are experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone, you might be tempted to diagnose yourself and seek out self-treatment options. While some forms of self-treatment - such as healthy lifestyle changes - will be beneficial, others (like herbal supplements or medications) can have unintended side effects.
The diagnosis and management of low testosterone should be carried out under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional. They can conduct the necessary tests and work with you to develop a personalised treatment plan that suits your needs.