Male Menopause

Male menopause is a very real phenomenon and it has a name: Andropause. That’s the textbook term for the midlife decline in male hormone production of testosterone and DHEA—the major players in maintaining both physical and mental health in men. The effect may be gradual, unlike the rollercoaster many menopausal women find themselves on.

Testosterone and DHEA help provide virility, stamina and drive. To make a long story short, they put the M in ‘macho.’ These are the hormones that increase energy and decrease fatigue; they help in maintaining erectile function, normal sex drive and increase the strength of skin, bones, muscles and the heart. Men make more testosterone than do women, accounting for their greater muscle and bone mass. A proper balance of testosterone and DHEA hormones also helps to prevent depression and mental fatigue.

Diminishing levels of testosterone and DHEA levels have a big impact on both physical and mental wellbeing. It is not uncommon during this time that urinary and prostate problems may begin to enter the picture.

Usually, what the andropausal male first notices is a subtle loss of sexual desire, along with a downward shift in strength and energy. Bouts of depression and anxiety, the feeling of being ‘tired but wired’ and a persistent lack of stamina are also common symptoms as testosterone and DHEA decrease with age. The mid-life male quite often finds himself short on enthusiasm for the things he used to enjoy; work is not quite as challenging and exercise is tougher. Fatigue sets in more quickly and the only bedroom activity he’s really up for is sleeping through the night; a feat too often sabotaged by frequent visits to the bathroom. Thinning hair, shrinking muscles, wrinkles and an emerging paunch seem to go with the territory. He may feel rundown, anxious, edgy and achy.

The first step towards restoring balance is to test hormone levels so as to identify specific deficiencies and excesses and to what extent they are out of range. This can be done through saliva or blood tests. The test results serve to determine the most suitable treatment for restoration of hormone balance and relief of symptoms.

Stress management, exercise, proper nutrition, dietary supplements (particularly of adequate zinc and selenium) and testosterone and DHEA replacement with physician guidance have all been shown to raise hormone levels in men and help to counter andropause symptoms. Restoration of hormone balance goes a long way in restoring zest for life.

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