Andropause

( Male Menopause, Manopause)

This information has been collected from many books and Web sites

      Testosterone is the hormone responsible for deep voices, muscle mass, and facial and body hair patterns found in males. As men get older, the level of testosterone in the body and production of sperm gradually becomes lower, and they experience physical and psychological symptoms as a result of these low levels. characterized by measurably low testosterone levels and clinical symptoms mostly of a sexual nature, including a decreased desire for sex, fewer spontaneous erections, and erectile dysfunction.  It is the result of a gradual drop in testosterone; a steady decline in testosterone levels of about 1% per year can happen and is well documented in men. This is part of the natural aging process and it is estimated that testosterone decreases about 10% every decade after men reach the age of 30.

      Andropause is a condition that is associated with a decrease in the male hormone testosterone. It is unlike menopause in that the decrease in testosterone and the development of symptoms is more gradual than what occurs in women. Approximately 30% of men in their 50s will experience symptoms of andropause caused by low testosterone levels. A person experiencing andropause may have a number of symptoms related to the condition and could be at risk of other serious health conditions such as osteoporosis without proper treatment.

      The decrease in testosterone is an important factor in men suspected of having andropause. However, as men age, not only does the body start making less testosterone, but also the levels of another hormone called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which pulls usable testosterone from the blood, begins to increase. SHBG binds some of the available testosterone circulating in the blood. The testosterone that is not bound to the SHBG hormone is called bioavailable testosterone, meaning it is available for use by the body.

      Men who experience symptoms associated with andropause have lowered amounts of bioavailable testosterone in their blood. Therefore, tissues in the body that are stimulated by testosterone receive a lower amount of it, which may cause various physical and possibly mental changes in a person such as mood swings or fatigue.

Although symptoms may vary from person to person, common symptoms of men going through andropause include:

  • low sex drive

  • difficulties getting erections or erections that are not as strong as usual

  • lack of energy

  • depression

  • irritability and mood swings

  • loss of strength or muscle mass

  • increased body fat

  • hot flashes

Complications associated with andropause include an increased risk of cardiovascular problems and osteoporosis (brittle bones).

The "male menopause" myth

      There's no doubt both sexes experience a "change of life" in some form sometime in their 40s or 50s. But that doesn't mean that this change is the same for both sexes. Though andropause is often referred to as "male menopause," there are actually a number of differences in the effects of aging on men's and women's hormones and on their bodies.

But before we focus on the divide between the sexes, let's look at the similarities - or at the least the similarities that have to do with the effects of aging! Both men and women experience a drop-off in sex-related hormone levels as they age, which can cause a number of changes in the body.

      In women, the decrease and eventual stop in production of the "female" hormones estrogen and progesterone cause menopause, which is marked by the end of menstrual periods. This results in some symptoms similar to those of andropause.

Like andropausal men, women going through menopause may experience hot flashes, low sex drive caused by both emotional and physical changes, weight gain, irritability, and depression. Like their male counterparts, women going through this "change of life" are also at an increased risk for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

      Looking at those symptoms, it may seem that men and women are actually pretty similar - at least in this case. But there are a number of key differences between andropause and menopause.

For starters, menopause literally means the end of menstruation, while there is no such specific signpost to characterize the condition for andropausal men. Secondly, women experience a much faster drop-off in hormone levels than men do as they age - testosterone decreases gradually over decades, while the onset of menopause is relatively short.

As well, while some of the symptoms of menopause may vary from woman to woman, all females do stop getting their menstrual periods. In contrast, though all men will experience a decrease in testosterone production, not all men will have a big enough drop to cause any physical symptoms.

Live young, feel younger?

 

      While researchers have yet to find the elusive fountain of youth, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce the symptoms and risks of andropause and bring you back up to the way you used to feel 10 years ago.

  • exercise: Regular exercise can help you control your weight, improve your mood and energy levels, and increase muscle and bone mass - which is key to preventing osteoporosis. You should do muscle and bone-strengthening activities at least twice a week. Whether you are just starting out or have been exercising for years, try to make fitness a regular part of your routine. Your goal should be to exercise for at least 10 minutes at a time. Aim to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. Do a combination of activities that will get your heart pumping and your muscles working. (Always Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.)
     

  • healthy diet: Eating well doesn't have to be complicated, but getting the foods you need will help raise your energy levels, make it easier to maintain your weight, and help cut your risk of disease.  Because andropause can put men at risk for osteoporosis, make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Men under the age of 50 should aim for 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily, while men over 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day.
     

  • quitting smoking: Though the reason is unclear, smoking has been shown to increase bone loss. It also puts you at an increased risk of heart disease. Talk to your doctor about a strategy for quitting.
     

  • counseling: If low testosterone has you feeling depressed, psychological counseling may help you manage your moods. Talk to your doctor about whether counseling, antidepressants, or a combination of both may help.

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