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.
However, the relationship of these symptoms to decreased testosterone levels is still controversial. Unlike menopause in women, when hormone production stops completely, testosterone decline in men is a slower process. The testes, unlike the ovaries, do not run out of the substance it needs to make testosterone. A healthy man may be able to make sperm well into his 80s or later.
There are many risk factors for Andropause, such as:
Male menopause can cause physical, sexual, and psychological problems. They typically worsen as you get older. They can include:
You may also experience swollen or tender breasts, decreased testicle size, loss of body hair, or hot flashes. Low levels of testosterone associated with male menopause have also been linked to osteoporosis. This is a condition where your bones become weak and brittle. These are rare symptoms. They typically affect men at the same age as women entering menopause.
To make the diagnosis of male menopause, the doctor will:
The reason is that there are other conditions that are associated with low testosterone levels (e.g., hypogonadism, which causes retardation of sexual growth and development; diabetes; high blood pressure), your doctor will likely do tests to rule out these possibilities before making a diagnosis of andropause. It is important to note that many of the symptoms associated with andropause are also a normal part of aging, and they may not be reversible with treatment.
Replacing testosterone in the blood: It is the most common treatment for men going through andropause. This treatment may provide relief from the symptoms and help improve the quality of life in many cases. Just as with hormone replacement therapy in women, testosterone replacement therapy has potential risks and side effects. Replacing testosterone may worsen prostate cancer, for example. If you are considering androgen replacement therapy, talk to a doctor to learn more and weigh all of the positives and negatives before making your decision.
Testosterone is available in a variety of different preparations including skin patches, capsules, gels, and injections. Your doctor will help determine which treatment is best for you and will often consider your lifestyle when making this decision. Follow-up visits with your doctor will be important after the initial treatment begins. At follow-up visits, your doctor will check your response to the treatment and make adjustments in necessary cases.
Testosterone should not be taken by any man with prostate or breast cancer. If you have heart disease, or taking some medications such as blood thinners, or have an enlarged prostate, and have kidney or liver disease, you will need to discuss with your doctor whether or not testosterone therapy is right for you.
The most common type of treatment for symptoms of male menopause is making healthier lifestyle choices. For example, your doctor might advise you to: