What is it?
This isn’t a new Android app fellas. Andropause is actually menopause for men. Is it really a medical condition? Or just something supplement sellers pitch to consumers so they will buy their products? Let’s get to the bottom of this controversial condition.
As men age, their testosterone levels decline, that’s an established fact. No one can deny or disprove that. With this decline in testosterone levels, some men experience symptoms, others don’t. The number and severity of symptoms can also vary from one man to another. To make matters worse, andropause can be viewed as physical or psychological.
Defining the term andropause physically refers specifically to the symptoms associated with a decline in testosterone levels. Psychologically speaking, andropause can be defined as a midlife crisis which some men undergo during their early to late 40s. If you surf the Internet, you’ll find that there’s overlap between the two.
Here are other terms which may be used to refer to andropause:
1. Man-opause – colloquial term
2. Male menopause – colloquial term
3. Hypogonadism – accepted by many in the US
A few medical books are brave enough to discuss andropause and actually describe the term as a misnomer. The reason for this is because compared to menopause, andropause doesn’t have a specific and dramatic decline in testosterone levels (the so called pause of menopause). The World Health Organisation currently doesn’t recognise the term andropause as a medical condition like it does with menopause.
To make things more practical, factual, and a little more objective, we’ll focus our attention on the physical definition of the term andropause.
Recognise the Clues like a Man
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine finally revealed the clues to help you recognise whether you are experiencing the symptoms of andropause.
Take a look at the table of symptoms below which can be caused by a decline in testosterone levels. They also represent the current criteria needed to be able to give a diagnosis of andropause in countries who accept it as a medical condition.
|Sexual Clues (Symptoms)
||Alongside a blood test showing low testosterone levels, these 3 sexual clues MUST BE PRESENT for a man to be diagnosed with andropause.
|Erectile dysfunction (ED)
||You have problems getting it up or sustaining one.
|Decrease in sex drive
||You may notice a drop in the number of times you think about sex compared to before.
Your libido declines.
|Decrease in the frequency of morning erections
||You wake up flaccid (relaxed, no erection) down there.
|Non-sexual, Physical Clues
||In addition, these three other physical symptoms might be present, but are only weakly linked to andropause.
|You can’t bend, stoop or kneel
||Reduced muscle strength and muscle mass.
|Difficulty walking more than one kilometre
||You lack the energy and stamina.
|You can’t participate or engage in vigorous, physical activities
||Such as lifting heavy objects, running, hiking, shovelling, mountain biking, basketball, soccer and tennis.
|Non-sexual, Psychological Clues
||These three psychological clues may also be present, but again are only weakly linked to andropause.
||You feel sad most of the time. This sadness may dwell, even when certain situations would normally elicit a feeling of happiness.
||You get mentally tired or exhausted easily. You tire easily while doing your daily routine.
|Low energy levels
||You lack the energy to do normal tasks.
Some valuable notes collected from different studies:
- The symptoms listed above were the ones found to be the most closely associated with low testosterone levels.
- These clues (symptoms) aren’t exclusively found in men undergoing andropause. Other common chronic medical conditions can also express these symptoms.
- Before the diagnosis of andropause can be given, it’s a must that blood testosterone levels are determined.
- Other medical conditions you might be having that could produce the symptoms or clues above should be addressed first to rule them out as a possible cause.
Unlike hormones in women, testosterone levels in men fall slowly as they age. It happens on a gradual basis so much so that the man undergoing a decline in testosterone levels may not notice it at first. In addition, he will often attribute the symptoms to other medical conditions and general aging. Thus, andropause or male menopause can go unnoticed in some men.
The average free blood testosterone level of a healthy adult man is between 9.4 – 37 nmol/L.
Note: The relative testosterone levels shown in the infographic reflect the average numbers and approximations among the general population. Don’t be surprised if your actual levels don’t seem to coincide with them. Consult your healthcare provider before you make any rash conclusions.
Andropause: Myth or Fact then?
Right, now this question may be a difficult one to answer. There’s a practical solution though, and it depends on where you live on the globe. Medical doctors from New Zealand, Australia and some countries in Europe generally recognise and give a diagnosis of male menopause or andropause.
Fortunately, all men can have their testosterone levels checked if they suspect they’re undergoing andropause. If the level is low (plus the 3 required sexual clues mentioned above are present), treatment can be started and customised according to the patient’s needs. Of course, monitoring of the symptoms is a must. All of these are done under the strict guidance and orders of your healthcare practitioner.
Physiologically speaking, menopause and andropause aren’t exactly the same. However if you view it from a perspective of the impact it has on the lives of men and women, they are quite similar.
Whether andropause is myth or fact, one fact which can’t be ignored is that testosterone levels do decline as men age. If symptoms appear, you know what to do. Handle the clues like a man.
Make sure you read the second part of this article on andropause. It’s about tips on how you can keep your testosterone levels in the safe zone (and ensure there’s enough to sustain YOU).