Spotlight: Male Menopause—Is It Real?
“male menopause” has been in the news, making headlines now and then. The
medical name for it is “andropause.” You may have wondered whether it is affecting
yourself or a loved one.
behind male menopause is that the levels of the hormone testosterone decrease
with age, causing irritability, lack of strength and lack of sexual drive.
It sounds logical, right? After all, women go through menopause when their
hormone levels drop. And in fact, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which
women have been taking for years after they start menopause (although now
we know more about the risks of HRT), does exist for men, although most experts
agree that it’s appropriate only for a very few, specific reasons. There’s
more about men and HRT at the end of this article.
and men produce testosterone, but women produce smaller amounts of it. In
men, it’s produced in the testes, which are the reproductive glands that also
produce sperm. The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland determine how much
testosterone your body produces.
adolescence, testosterone production in men is at its peak. It gradually does
decrease as men age. But the latest thinking among many researchers is that
there’s very little evidence that most men experience a serious drop in testosterone
levels. Remember, many men continue to be able to father children as they
age. Many older men have testosterone levels that are in about the same range
as healthy younger men.
could be related to other health conditions
are many conditions that develop as people age. Many people have one or two
lifestyle-related habits that can lead to conditions that cause feelings of
tiredness, stress and loss of strength. Years of smoking, drinking too much
alcohol, weighing too much and getting too little physical exercise can contribute
to high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and also simply
make you feel not nearly as healthy as you did when you were younger. Diabetes
is a common reason for erectile dysfunction because of the circulatory problems
that often accompany it.
men are most likely to need hormone replacement therapy?
is hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for men, but most experts agree that
until there’s more evidence that male menopause exists, HRT is appropriate
only for men whose bodies make very little or no testosterone. These would
include men whose pituitary gland has been destroyed by infection or tumors,
or men whose testes have been damaged, for example.
clinical trials are necessary to determine the risks and benefits of HRT for
men. It’s important for men to visit their doctors to find out the cause of
lack of energy, lack of sexual drive, loss of strength or any of the other
symptoms that some might think of as “male menopause.”
The Institute of Medicine; National Institute on Aging