Menopause is a normal and expected event for a woman as she grows older and experiences hormonal changes. Although “male menopause” is a phrase sometimes used to capture the hormonal changes that some men face as they age, it doesn’t always occur and the dynamics are different than they are for women.
What is male menopause?
When women experience menopause, hormone production lessens significantly and within a relatively short period of time. However, for men, this process is slower, since the testes can continue to make testosterone, even in men who are advanced in age. Due to these dynamics, this condition is often referred to as “androgen (testosterone) decline in the aging male”—or low testosterone.
What is low testosterone?
Testosterone is primarily produced in the testes and is the most important male sex hormone. It supports numerous functions:
- Helps to produce sperm cells
- Supports libido (sex drive)
- Supports muscle and bone strength
- Affects male hair growth
When testosterone levels are low, all of these areas can be affected. Low testosterone is so common that there are approximately three million new diagnoses every year, and about forty percent of men over forty-five years of age have signs and symptoms of this condition.
What are the symptoms of low testosterone?
Low testosterone can affect many things—including sex drive, physical features, and mood. Symptoms may vary, but often include:
- Low energy
- Lack of motivation
- Increased irritability
- Difficulty focusing
- Increased body fat
- Weaker muscles
- Hot flashes
- Increased breast size
- Erectile dysfunction
- Lack of sexual desire
How is low testosterone diagnosed and treated?
Diagnosing low testosterone will usually involve different types of testing to determine the best course of action for your treatment. If age-related factors are involved, diagnosis will typically begin with the following:
- Review of medical history
- Thorough physical examination
- Laboratory testing
How is low testosterone treated?
For some men, lifestyle changes—such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and reducing your stress—can help decrease the symptoms of male menopause. However, others may benefit from Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which provides the body with testosterone to replace what is lost. Hormone replacement therapy may be in given in several forms, including:
- Topical gels
- Pellets that are injected under the skin
It is important that your doctor work with you to provide an accurate diagnosis and tailor a unique treatment plan to fit your specific needs. We at Western Michigan Urological Associates want to help you find the best option to do it. Please contact us today to make an appointment with one of our physicians.