Does Male Menopause Exist?

Once women reach a certain age, they go through menopause — a time when menstrual cycles come to a permanent end and estrogen levels experience a decline. While this is common knowledge, many people may be surprised to hear about male menopause.  

While medical experts tend to use the term "andropause," this essentially describes a time when a man experiences a decrease in levels of the male hormone testosterone.

It may be perceived as an equivalent to female menopause only to a certain degree as there are some notable differences between the two.

Past the age of 30, it is estimated that men experience a natural drop in testosterone by around 1 percent per year. So the depletion is quite gradual compared to women where "hormone production plummets during a relatively short period of time," as noted by the Mayo Clinic.

As we know, women experience another significant change during menopause when their body stops ovulating. Men, on the other hand, do not ever stop producing sperm.

Dr. Jim Hotaling, a urologist and a men's health expert at the University of Utah Health Care, noted that even the hormonal changes in men are not as severe as they tend to be in women.

"It's a very gradual decline and at some point, in some men, it declines to a point where it does cause symptoms and that is where I think there is some resemblance to menopause," he explained.

There does seem to be a long list of possible symptoms which include a diminished sex drive, weaker bones, reduced muscle strength, increased body fat, a reduced frequency of erections, loss of body hair, and shrunken testes to name a few.

Some men may also experience a reduced sense of confidence, memory loss, depression, sleep problems, tiredness, irritability, and problems with concentration. 

According to Body & Health, an estimated 4 to 5 million men in the United States suffer from symptoms that are tied to low testosterone levels. But only around 5 percent of them are actually treated.

Dr. Hotaling explains that patients are only treated if they show symptoms of low testosterone levels, confirmed with the help of a blood test. The treatment typically involves testosterone replacement therapy.

"There are other medications we can use. The downside to testosterone replacement is it will make men sterile, some men permanently," he said. "Most men not. But we can use other medications to actually boost testosterone and keep men's' fertility intact."

Remember that not everyone requires hormone therapy as symptoms are too mild or easy to manage in some cases. Always seek guidance from a medical professional and avoid herbal supplements which may not help or may even increase the risk of prostate cancer.