When reaching their late 40's to early 50's, some men experience depression, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, as well as other emotional and physical symptoms.
Other common symptoms within this age group are:
mood swings and irritability
loss of muscle mass and reduced ability to exercise
fat redistribution, such as developing a "boep" (a large belly) or "man boobs" (aka gynaecomastia)
a general lack of enthusiasm or energy
difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or increased tiredness
poor concentration and short-term memory
These symptoms can interfere with day-to-day life, as well as general feelings of well-being and happiness, so it's important to consult your GP or Specialist to identify the cause and figure out a solution.
So, Is There Such A Thing As "Male Menopause"?
Well, this term, also sometimes called andropause, is ultimately a misleading term that is occasionally used in the media. It is misleading because it presumes that the symptoms are as a result of a sudden drop in testosterone in middle age, just like female menopause.
This is not true because as men enter middle age, although testosterone levels fall, the decline is slow and steady (less than 2% a year from around the age of 30 to 40) and as such, it is doubtful to cause any problems.
A testosterone deficiency that develops later in life, also known as late-onset hypogonadism, can sometimes be responsible for these symptoms too, but in many cases the symptoms of the so-called "male menopause" known as andropause has nothing to do with hormones.
If Not Hormones Then What?
Lifestyle factors or personal psychological problems are often responsible for many of these symptoms.
For example, lack of sex drive, erectile dysfunction and mood swings may be the result of:
Psychological problems are typically brought on by work or relationship issues like divorce, financial problems or worrying about ageing parents.
A "midlife crisis" can also be responsible. This can happen when men think they have reached life's halfway stage and their anxieties over what they have accomplished so far, either in their job or personal life, can lead to a period of depression.
Alongside the above psychological issues, there are also physical causes of erectile dysfunction which may occur, such as changes in the blood vessels.
Other possible causes of andropause include:
lack of sleep
a poor diet
lack of exercise
drinking too much alcohol
Late-onset Hypogonadism - A Testosterone Deficiency
In some cases, where lifestyle or psychological problems do not seem to be the cause for the symptoms of andropause then hypogonadism (where the testes produce few or no hormones) may be the culprit.
Hypogonadism can, from time to time, be present from birth, which can cause symptoms like delayed puberty and small testes. It can also occasionally develop later in life, particularly in men who have type 2 diabetes or are obese, this is then known as late-onset hypogonadism and can cause andropause (male menopause) symptoms. However, this is a rare and specific medical condition that's not a normal part of ageing.
A diagnosis of late-onset hypogonadism can usually be made based on your symptoms and the results of blood tests used to measure your testosterone levels.
If you're experiencing any of the above symptoms, see your GP. They'll ask about your work and personal life to see if your symptoms may be caused by psychological issues, such as stress, depression or anxiety. If this is the case, you may benefit from medication or a sitting down and having a chat with a therapist. And don't count out exercise and relaxation, as they can also help.
Your GP may also order a blood test to measure your testosterone levels. If the results suggest you have a testosterone deficiency, you may be referred to an endocrinologist, a specialist in hormone problems. If the specialist confirms this diagnosis, you may be offered testosterone replacement therapy to correct the hormone deficiency, which should relieve your symptoms.
This treatment may be prescribed as:
Original article: NHS UK