Even today, andropause is a very little known phenomenon. Yet it does exist. Here’s a brief update about this male condition.
Is andropause an illness?
Andropause is definitely not an illness. It is part of the normal aging process and caused by decreasing levels of testosterone, a sex hormone secreted mainly by the testicles. Andropause generally occurs between the ages of 45 to 65, a period when men experience a gradual decline in testosterone levels. In some men, the decrease may lead to a number of symptoms, including reduced sex drive, less frequent morning erections, erectile dysfunction, lower energy levels, a reduction in muscle mass, depression, hot flashes, and memory disorders. However, it’s important to know that these symptoms do not necessarily all happen at once. In fact, since these symptoms are not specific to andropause, they can also be caused by other health problems.
Is andropause comparable to menopause?
Although andropause is often called “male menopause”, these two phenomena are different for a number of reasons. First, unlike menopause in women, andropause does not mark the end of male fertility. Men remain fertile for the rest of their lives, although the quantity and quality of their sperm decrease with age. While menopausal women stop producing estrogen around 50 years old, andropause only slows the production of testosterone. Experts say that testosterone levels decline by about 1% per year. So at worst, they will only drop by a total of 30% to 50%. Although most women experience menopausal symptoms, only 40% to 65% of men are affected by andropause. Finally, even though all men do age, not all of them will suffer from the symptoms of andropause.
How is andropause diagnosed?
Because the symptoms vary substantially from one man to another and there is no threshold testosterone level below which symptoms occur, andropause is not always easy to diagnos. Doctors use questionnaires, such as the Androgen Deficiency in Aging Men (ADAM) and Aging Male Symptoms (AMS) forms to help them diagnose andropause. These questionnaires are used to identify men who may have a testosterone deficit. Doctors may then use a blood test to measure the level of testosterone (total and/or bioavailable) in blood to confirm or refute the diagnosis. At the same time, doctors must always rule out other health problems that can produce similar symptoms, which means other tests may be necessary.