Andropause

What is Andropause?

Andropause is associated with the natural decrease in the male hormone testosterone with age.  It is often referred to as “male menopause”, although that term is becoming less common.

The difference between Andropause and Menopause is the decrease in testosterone and the development of symptoms on a more gradual basis. A small percentage of men in their fifties may notice signs of Andropause.

What are the Symptoms of Andropause?

Since a drop in testosterone is the cause, there can be a variety of relatively common symptoms that could be tied to Andropause.  The loss of testosterone can go unnoticed or cause significant sexual, physical and mental health problems.  There are certain symptoms that can appear and worsen over time.

Symptoms include

  • Depression
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Sleep troubles
  • Trouble focusing
  • Weight gain
  • Reduced muscle mass and feelings of physical weakness
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Reduced sex drive

Andropause Causes

Andropause is often deemed the male menopause because it is caused by a drop in testosterone in men in a similar way that estrogen levels drop in women as they get older.

Testosterone is a hormone which is vital for changes that occur during male puberty. It changes the sexual functioning of men and helps with the growth of muscle mass and body hair. Testosterone levels spike in teenage years and then begin to slowly drop from around the age of 30.

It is estimated that testosterone levels reduce by around 1% each year after this point.

Since the reduction of testosterone is so gradual, men typically do not notice clear signs of andropause until they are in their 50s or 60s, or sometimes even older. However, there are some instances in which the symptoms of andropause can be noticed much earlier.

Testicular cancer or surgical removal of the testes can cause andropause to occur in younger men. It’s also possible for men who have undergone anti-testosterone therapy as a treatment for prostate cancer to experience symptoms of andropause.

How is Andropause Treated?

Hormone replacement therapy is seen as a possible treatment for Andropause.  However, these types of treatment are very controversial.  There is very limited evidence to show that these treatments currently work.

Treatment includes

A healthcare provider will likely address the individual symptoms and ways to alleviate them.  Those treatments could include counseling and any medication that can be prescribed for certain symptoms.  A healthy balanced diet with regular physical activity can help bring renewed energy and focus.  Part of the mental health component of treatment may include encouraging a patient to find ways to reduce stress through meditation and relaxation techniques.  It is important for anyone going through Andropause to seek a comprehensive treatment plan so they know the options available to them.

Andropause Prevention

Andropause is a natural part of getting older and cannot necessarily be prevented or avoided. However, men may consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT) when they begin to see early symptoms of the male menopause, such as reduced sex drive, low mood, and low energy levels.

HRT can be a highly effective method for preventing the symptoms of andropause from worsening. The treatment can be administered by intramuscular injections, patches which are applied directly to the skin, or gels which are simply rubbed into the skin every day. Each method allows a controlled amount of testosterone to enter the bloodstream in order to restore a more successful balance of the hormone throughout the body.

There are, however, side effects of testosterone HRT which individuals should consider carefully when considering prevention of andropause.

The most minor and common side effects are:

  • Acne
  • More frequent urination
  • Fluid retention

More severe side effects which individuals might notice are:

  • Reduction in testicle size
  • Increased cholesterol
  • Enlargement of breast tissues
  • Worsening sleep apnea in those who already have it
  • Infertility
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Increased red blood cells which can cause high blood pressure, muscle pain, blurred vision, blood clots and chest pain.
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Last Reviewed:
September 30, 2016
Last Updated:
November 08, 2017