Changes in hormones are inevitable part of the aging process. Hormonal changes in men due to aging, male menopause, does exit. In women, the reproductive hormones plunge more dramatically during menopause while the sex hormone changes in men are gradual.
The Male Menopause Myth
This term “male menopause” is used for describing the decrease in the levels of testosterone as a result of aging. But what is worth noting is that male menopause and female menopause are starkly different concepts all together.
In women, with the ending of ovulation, production of hormone drops in a short span of time. However, in men production of testosterone and other hormones falls over a duration of many years and the consequences may not be clear.
The hormonal changes in men due to aging called andropause. is known by different names like testosterone deficiency syndrome, late-onset male hypogonadism or androgen deficiency.
How do Male Hormones Change With Time
Testosterone levels vary in men with age. Older men have lower levels of testosterone as compared to younger ones. Testosterone levels go down during adulthood – about 1% with every passing year after the age of 30.
Low Levels of Testosterone
To determine or diagnose low testosterone levels, blood tests may be done. Sometimes there may not be any signs or symptoms of low testosterone levels in men. In such cases, treatment is not needed. Some of the signs that may appear on account of low testosterone levels are.
- Changes in sex drive, reduced sexual function and desire, erectile dysfunction, not being able to maintain erections and infertility. Size of testes may also decrease.
- Changes in Sleep Patterns: Low testosterone can result in conditions like insomnia, sleepiness, and sleep disturbances.
- Changes in Physical appearance: Various changes like increase in body fat, reduction in strength and muscle bulk, decreased bone density. Tender and swollen breasts (gynecomastia), loss of hair on body, episodes of hot flashes and less vigor and energy.
- Emotional Changes Low levels of testosterone can decrease the motivation and self-confidence of a person. You may experience sadness and depression. You may also face difficulty in concentrating or remembering things.
Sometimes some of the above symptoms may be caused due to factors others than low testosterone. These could be due to side effects of medication, thyroid, excessive abuse of alcohol or depression. Other conditions like obstructive sleep apnea may also affect the levels of testosterone. After these conditions get diagnosed or treated, testosterone levels will come back to normal.
Being Your Best
If you are facing symptoms of low testosterone levels, speak to your doctor. They will be in a better position to understand your problem and suggest solutions. Some of the things that may help are:
- Be transparent with your doctor: Figure out with your doctor, what is causing the signs and symptoms- side effects of medication, erectile dysfunction and other sexual issues.
- Choose a healthy lifestyle. Eat well balanced, nutritious food and incorporate physical activity in your routine. This will help maintain strength, lean muscle mass and energy. Regularly exercising will better your mood and make you sleep better.
- Look out for help if you feel low: Depression in men may not cause sadness. It could be that you are really tired, irritable or anxious. Sometimes you may notice anger hitting you and you may not be able to deal with the responsibilities at workplace or home. There could be other symptoms like not being able to sleep and recurrent thoughts about suicide. If you suspect depression, speak to your doctor. There are many treatments out there.
- Do not go for herbal supplementation without proper consultation. There’s not enough evidence suggesting that herbal supplements are safe and beneficial in aging related low testosterone levels. It could be dangerous to have some supplements. For example, using DHEA over long term may up the chances of having prostate cancer There is controversy regarding treating low testosterone due to aging with testosterone replacement therapies.
- In case of some men, testosterone therapy provides relief from signs and symptoms of deficiency of testosterone. In other men, the benefits may not be as apparent and there could be risks. The risks could include sleep apnea, stimulation of non-cancerous growth of prostate, aggravates the growth of prostate cancer. Testosterone therapy may increase the chances of heart attack and stroke and lead to blood clot formation in veins.