Is it a Midlife Crisis or Male Menopause/Andropause?
Whenever a man becomes moody, the obvious reasons are always, stress, overworked or just being full of nonsense. When your spouse is under the age of 40 years, this most probable is true, but over the age of 40 years, there might be another reason for this.
Discussing menopause in women is very easy to do. Regular TV and radio interviews and discussions regarding this are being done. My question is however, how many times does the subject of male menopause arise? It is as if this is not a subject that is easily talked about.
To me menopause in men is just as important as in women. If the issue is not addressed, it can also cause distress and underlying problems which will not disappear by itself.
What is male menopause/andropause?
Male menopause, also called andropause, is the decline in a man’s testosterone level.
This means a very gradual testosterone deficiency and an increase in sex hormone-binding globulin(SHBG).
Testosterone is an essential male hormone. Male menopause is common in most men, but studies are still being done to find out why it does not affect all men. From the age of 30 years, testosterone levels drop by about 10% every 10 years.
About one in every ten men between the ages of 40 and 60 has low testosterone.
Why is testosterone important to men?
Testosterone alone is a hormone that has an unique effect on the male body. The production of testosterone takes place in the testes and the adrenal glands.
Testosterone builds protein and is necessary for normal sexual behaviour and because of that producing an erection.
Testosterone also affects other metabolic activities like the production of blood cells in the bone marrow, liver function, prostate gland growth, lipid metabolism, bone formation and carbohydrate metabolism.
Men who have had autoimmune disease or cancer have an increased risk for low testosterone levels.
Is male menopause/andropause the same as menopause in women?
Menopause in men is completely something different to menopause in women.
Menopause in women has to do with the complete decline of sex hormones. Estrogen levels decrease and disappear, causing the loss of fertility.
During menopause in men, they do not loose their fertility completely. The testes, unlike the ovary does not run out of the substance it needs to make testosterone. Testosterone will continue to produce as well as sperm and a man can have children well into his 80s.
Symptoms of female menopause include hot flashes, fatigue and night sweats whereby male menopause includes depression, mood swings, irritability and low libido.
Symptoms of male menopause.
The decline in testosterone lead to:
- loss of energy and concentration
- weakness and decrease muscle mass and loss of muscle strength
- increased upper and central body fat
- mood swings
- impotence and low sex drive
- loss of strength and memory
- cardiovascular risks
- Osteoporosis or weak bones and back pain
- Falling asleep after dinner
How can male menopause be diagnosed?
Usually it is done with blood tests to check testosterone levels. A physical exam will also have to be done by a doctor and symptoms should be discussed.
Due to the low levels of testosterone, testosterone replacement therapy can be considered as an option. This therapy will relieve the depression, fatigue and decrease libido symptoms. This replacement therapy can be in the form of injections, oral androgens, testosterone time release pellets inserted under the skin or transdermal patches. There however are side effects for example replacing testosterone may worsen prostate cancer.
If you do not consider this therapy root, the natural option can also be considered.
Here are a few options you can follow to boost your testosterone level.
- Studies have shown that doing weight-lifting exercises like bench presses or back rows increases testosterone.
- Nuts, canola and olive oil and peanut butter are rich in monounsaturated fat that can increase testosterone levels.
- Stay away from eating a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. This cramps testosterone levels. Protein intake should be about 16% of your daily calories.
- Eat healthy, do exercise and loose some weight if needed. Carrying excess body weight is a cause of the decline in testosterone production.
- Be sure to get adequate rest. A minimum of 7 hours sleep per night. Not enough sleep can harm the production of testosterone.
- Do not drink more than 3 alcoholic drinks per day. Alcohol stops your testes from producing testosterone.
- Do not skip meals.
- Studies show that taking 30mg of Zinc, 450mg of magnesium and 11mg of Vitamin B6 supplements per day can elevate testosterone levels.