While they don’t get hot flashes, aging men go through their own kind of change of life and have menopause-like symptoms. It’s called andropause.
All men experience declining testosterone levels as they age. Starting about age 30, a man's testosterone typically declines 10 percent each decade. At the same time, levels of sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) increase, trapping much of the remaining testosterone and making it unavailable to the body's cells.
Though both of these changes are completely normal, some men experience a more dramatic change, significant enough that it leads to andropause — the male version of menopause. Not all men go through andropause — though it's estimated that 20 percent to 30 percent will experience it by their 50s. Those who do go through it say it affects every facet of their lives, since testosterone has an influence on nearly all processes in a man's body.
Andropause’s global effect on a man includes low libido and problems with erectile function, as well as feeling depleted of energy and, in more extreme cases, it leads to bone loss and depression. And since andropause can begin even more gradually than menopause — and since most people have never heard of it — it can be hard to recognize exactly what's going on.
There are many potential treatments for andropause:
Try testosterone replacement therapy (also known as TRT). TRT can be administered through injections, creams, or pills, and these can help to enhance and replace testosterone levels and decrease the symptoms of andropause. As with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for women, it is an option that should be discussed thoroughly with your physician: TRT is not the right option for everyone, especially those who are at risk for prostate cancer. However, a growing body of research is indicating that testosterone may not increase a risk of prostate cancer; so now many prescribing doctors are exploring this option more readily with their andropausal patients.
Change your life and adopt a healthier lifestyle. You can also decrease the impact of andropause by living a healthy lifestyle, including getting plenty of rest and exercise. It’s important to limit your intake of fatty foods and dairy during this time (the hormones in dairy can exacerbate your hormonal imbalance further as well as your symptoms). In addition, zinc supplements have been shown in some preliminary studies to be potentially beneficial, but remember to talk to your doctor before beginning any new supplement regimen. Regular prostate exams are also increasingly important as you get older. Make sure to discuss any sexual side effects such as erectile dysfunction with your doctor.
Your partner can help. Lastly, it’s very important to communicate with your partner and make sure that you are both on the same page during this trying time. Aging is a fact of life that long-term couples can confront together. If you stay open about your journey and maintain your connection to each other, there is no reason why menopause or andropause should sap your desire for your partner or your zest for life.
And, women, if you are wondering how to support your guy during this time, just do all you can to stay communicative and supportive. Think of how you would like him to treat you during menopause, and use that as your starting point. Don’t be afraid to take the reins if he is dismissive of his symptoms: He might not know what andropause is. If he has all or some of the above symptoms, suggest he get a medical checkup, including having his hormone levels checked. Men often neglect health issues, and yet as we age, nothing is more important than staying vigilant and making positive lifestyle choices.
Here’s to great sex during every stage of life!
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