For some years there was much debate about whether there was such a thing as â€œthe male menopauseâ€. More recently, medical science has shown that this is a genuine medical condition, though its official title is â€œandropauseâ€.
A natural part of the aging process, andropause is believed to be linked to falling levels of the hormones that create male characteristics (androgens, which is where the name comes from) particularly the best known one testosterone. It is also associated with a declining ability to produce sperm.
The andropause occurs much more slowly than the menopause in women, and is still far less known, understood or discussed. Around 30% of men in their 50s are believed to suffer from the effects of andropause. Probably the most distressing symptom for men is a lowering of their sex drive, infertility and difficulty in gaining or maintaining an erection.
However, andropause can also result in other physical and psychological symptoms. Falling levels of hormones can create mood swings, depression, insomnia and fatigue.
There is also evidence to suggest that men with falling levels of androgens will experience â€œhot flushesâ€ and an increase in body fat, which are seen as characteristics of female menopause. They could even show signs of swollen or tender â€œbreastsâ€ and loss of body hair. If left untreated, it is believed that andropause can lead to serious health issues such as osteoporosis (brittle bones) and cardiovascular problems. But this is rare.
Treatment is sometimes based on replacing testosterone via a skin patch, capsule, gel or injections. In some more moderate cases, physicians will advise that it is an irreversible part of aging and medication intervention is unnecessary.
However, they may well recommend andropause natural treatment options.
Exercising regularly and reducing stress are important ways of addressing the symptoms of andropause.
Releasing positive hormones during physical activities â€“ such as endorphins â€“ can go a long way to offsetting the imbalance that andropause brings. It can boost energy levels and sense of well-being, adding more vitality and vigor.
The same applies to relaxation and stress avoidance â€“ taking care of mental health can be an important part of compensating for the impact of hormonal changes in the body.
One of the most natural treatments for andropause though is quite simply, sleep. The Journal of the American Medical Association published research which detailed how insufficient sleep can reduce testosterone even in healthy young men. So, hitting the hay and getting a good night's rest is even more important for older guys.
For centuries herbs and plants have formed the basis of medical treatments, and increasingly science is returning to these substances to find natural remedies. One particularly interesting area of research is a South African herb called bulbine natalensis. Early trials show promising results in boosting testosterone production.
However, you may achieve a noticeable improvement by simply stocking up on a few easy to come by foodstuffs. Good nutrition is always important when your body is undergoing changes, and age begins to impact on natural functions such as hormone production. There are even foods which are believed to boost production of testosterone. And if nothing else, they offer other health properties that can help raise your mood and give you better general wellness.
Vitamin D is believed to be a nutrient that helps to maintain the body's natural production of testosterone. An excellent source is canned or fresh tuna, but salmon and sardines are also a good option.
Dairy products such as milk are a good source of Vitamin D, but also provide a healthy dose of calcium, which can protect male bones against the negative impact of lowering androgens. Eggs should be consumed regularly, as long as you don't have issues with high cholesterol.
You can also get vitamin D from fortified breakfast cereals â€“ add milk and you have a double boost.
Zinc can't necessarily help you produce testosterone over a certain level, but it is believed it can help protect male hormone production throughout life.
The â€œold wives' taleâ€ that oysters boost libido is no doubt based on the fact they contain high levels of zinc. It can also be found in other shellfish. If that doesn't sound appealing, flax seed, pumpkin seeds and watermelon seeds are all a terrific source and can be amalgamated into dishes quite easily. And Popeye led the way by using spinach to restore his muscles, as this plant is a brilliant source of zinc as well as providing other restorative nutrients.
Lean cuts of beef can contain both vitamin D and zinc, but one of the best androgen natural treatments is to eat beans. You can get a good dose of both vitamin D and zinc from white, kidney, and black beans as well as other important vitamins and minerals.