Andropause is the male equivalent of menopause. During this period in a man’s life, his hormone levels—especially testosterone—dramatically decline, resulting in increased risk of diseases like heart disease and a host of unpleasant symptoms. Unlike with women, however, the male transition into andropause is very gradual. In fact, many men don’t even recognize they are in andropause and accept their symptoms as mere “ facts of aging.” Too often, their doctors confirm this belief, telling aging men they have to accept a new reality. In fact, andropause is a clearly identified medical phenomenon. Beginning around the age of 35, most men will produce 1% to 2% less testosterone every year. By the time a man is 70 years old, he will be producing only a fraction of the testosterone he did in his youthful prime. This drop in hormones is the chief culprit behind andropause—and there’s no reason men have to needlessly suffer. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and testosterone therapy offer aging men relief from symptoms and protection from disease. And contrary to many reports in the popular media, testosterone replacement therapy has a long and safe track record in men who show a testosterone deficiency and symptoms of hormone deficiency. So, if any of the below symptoms of andropause look familiar to you, book your initial consultation with the expert physicians at Genemedics right away. Our doctors have worked with thousands of aging men to correct age-related hormone imbalances and restore their youthful vitality. Some of the more common symptoms of andropause include:
Low Libido and Loss of Interest in Sex
Loss of interest in sex may last for just a short time, or it may become a chronic problem. The most common symptom of low libido is decreased sexual interest, which results in thinking about or engaging in sexual activity less frequently and experiencing less sexual stimulation. In most males, the ability to perform sexually is usually intact, but the desire is simply not there (or greatly reduced). Optimal testosterone levels are very important for maintaining healthy libido. Nutrition and exercise are also important in maintaining a healthy libido. Proper diet and exercise results in optimal blood flow throughout the body, which is necessary for sexual intercourse. Also, fat gain is common with poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle. Aside from affecting your respiratory health and strength, fat is known to produce estrogen, which in turn can further reduce your libido. Thus fat loss, a healthy diet and adequate exercise are essential components to maintaining a healthy libido.
Erectile dysfunction is defined as an inability to develop or maintain an erection during sexual performance. It can be caused by a number of factors, but the most common natural cause is andropause and low testosterone levels. Stress, environmental toxins, poor diet, and lack of exercise can all contribute to erectile dysfunction, as can diseases like heart disease and diabetes (many doctors consider erectile dysfunction to be the first symptom of heart or circulatory disease). In many cases, restoring youthful testosterone levels can completely resolve erectile dysfunction.
Low Energy Levels
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of andropause. Most men experience fatigue during andropause. “ Feeling tired all of the time” is frustrating enough, but to make matters worse, fatigue can cause many other issues. For example, fatigue results in decreased motivation to work, which can result in worsening job performance. Fatigue results in decreased motivation to exercise, which can result in less exercise. Less exercise means a reduction in heart health, more fat accumulation, increased health risks, and a lower quality of life. Fatigue can also result in frustration, depressed mood, and irritability, along with many other unpleasant symptoms. Low testosterone levels are one of the most common causes of fatigue and low energy levels in men. Besides testosterone, thyroid and cortisol imbalance are also important regulators of energy levels.
Many aging men notice they start gaining weight, particularly in the mid-section (abdominal fat), despite no changes to their activity level or diet. This unexplained weight gain is often caused by hormone imbalance, especially the combination of low testosterone and elevated estrogen. Other hormones may also be involved in andropause-related weight gain. The thyroid, which produces thyroid hormone, is the key organ in regulating the metabolism. Cortisol is an important hormone that can cause increased appetite and fat gain if there is cortisol imbalance in men.
Testosterone plays a major role in muscle tone and strength. When testosterone levels decrease, the muscle cells atrophy (shrink), which results in decreased muscle mass and tone. Symptoms of muscle loss include musculoskeletal weakness and loss of stamina, which can interfere with physical activity. Lack of physical activity, in turn, further reduces muscle mass. Studies indicate that there is a 20% loss of skeletal muscle in healthy men between 30 to 70 years of age. As with many symptoms of andropause, muscle loss is a symptom that many men assume is “ a natural part of aging.” In reality, age-related muscle loss is often
caused by male hormone imbalance. Like other andropause symptoms, muscle loss can be reversed or prevented through treatment.
“ Irritable man syndrome” is generally a result of high cortisol levels and low testosterone levels. Low testosterone levels may occur due to andropause or cortisol imbalance. Cortisol imbalance can cause unpleasant emotional/mood changes by negatively affecting the functions of other hormones. For example, cortisol imbalance can negatively affect the functions of testosterone, which results in unpleasant emotional/mood changes. Cortisol measurement should be part of your andropause related bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, if blood tests indicate elevate cortisol.
Memory loss is more than just occasionally being forgetful. It can negatively affect your job performance and safety. Memory loss is the decreased ability to focus, along with difficulty recalling information. As with many symptoms of male hormone imbalance, memory loss is often assumed to be “ a natural part of aging.” In many cases, however, the memory loss associated with aging is directly due to decreased testosterone levels and hormone imbalance, including estrogen, DHEA, prenenolone, cortisol, and thyroid hormone
Most people know that hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause for women. It is a surprise to many men, however, to learn that hot flashes are also a common symptom of male hormone imbalance, particularly andropause. Fortunately, if you are a man experiencing hot flashes, you are not alone and treatment is available. Hot flashes occur when the body suddenly feels warm despite no change in the room temperature. In men, hot flashes are directly related to sudden cessation of hormone production, particularly estrogen and testosterone. Low testosterone levels result in incorrect signals sent to the hypothalamus (in the brain), which indicates that the body is overheating and needs to cool down. The hypothalamus responds by increasing blood flow in an attempt to cool the body, resulting in sudden sweats, clamminess and hot flashes.
Night sweats refer to excessive sweating at night. They are essentially male hot flashes that occur at night and cause sweating. It is more common among men who are 40 years of age or older. Like menopause in women, andropause is a common cause of night sweats in men.
Optimizing hormone levels with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy in conjunction with an exercise, diet, and supplementation program will relieve night sweats.
As men age, there are three different types of urinary conditions that can be caused by male hormone imbalance: urinary incontinence, painful bladder syndrome and benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).
- Urinary Incontinence. Urinary incontinence is defined as any involuntary leakage of urine. It is a common and distressing problem that may have a profound impact on a man’s quality of life. Urinary incontinence is almost always caused by an underlying and treatable medical condition. Testosterone replacement therapy for men has been shown to improve bladder control in men with urinary incontinence
- Painful Bladder Syndrome. Interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome) is a chronic, oftentimes severely debilitating disease of the bladder. The cause of this urinary condition is unknown. It is characterized by bladder pain, painful urination, urinary frequency/urgency (as often as every 10 minutes), and/or pressure in the bladder and/or pelvis. There are studies linking painful bladder syndrome in men to low testosterone levels. Testosterone replacement therapy for men has been shown to help relieve the symptoms of interstitial cystitis
- Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH). Benign prostate hyperplasia is an enlargement of the prostate caused by an elevated number of prostate cells. This prostate enlargement results in the formation of large nodules around the urethral area of the prostate. If the nodules become large enough, they can compress the urethral canal to cause partial and sometimes complete obstruction of the urethra, which interferes with the normal flow of urine. This can lead to the development of urinary hesitancy, frequent urination, dysuria (painful urination), urinary retention and increased risk for UTIs (urinary tract infections). PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels are typically elevated in individuals with BPH. Luckily, BPH does not lead to cancer and does not increase the risk of cancer.
Unfortunately, during andropause, testosterone levels decline and estrogen levels increase. Some evidence suggests that this relative increase in circulating estrogen may strengthen the effect of the testosterone derivative dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT promotes cell growth, which results in glandular enlargement of the prostate gland. The development of the prostate gland requires the conversion of testosterone into DHT in the presence of a specific enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. As aging occurs, the amount of DHT in the prostate gland remains high even though the circulating testosterone level drops.
Metabolic syndrome is a defined as the combination of the following medical problems: obesity, high blood pressure (aka hypertension), unhealthy cholesterol levels and insulin resistance. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome has been shown to increase with age. It is estimated that 25% of Americans have metabolic syndrome, and this number continues
to grow as the rate of obesity increases. Many studies have shown a link between metabolic syndrome and many health problems, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Men with metabolic syndrome should focus on reducing their body fat percentage to less than 15% by incorporating daily aerobic exercise (30 minutes per day) and eating a healthy diet. Prevention or reversal of metabolic syndrome will significantly reduce the risk for developing cardiovascular complications and/or diabetes.