Andropause, also known as late-onset hypogonadism, is characterized by a series of physical, psychological, and sexual changes in men. These changes are typically related to a gradual decrease in the body's testosterone levels. This condition can start to be apparent around the age of 45 to 55.
Testosterone is a sex hormone found in both men and women. It plays a major role in male puberty. It is primarily produced in the testes. Among other things, it's responsible for the appearance of body hair, a lower voice, and increased muscle mass during adolescence. It also enables sperm production and helps maintain sexual desire.
Not all men go through andropause. Only around 30% of men will experience the symptoms of andropause, the main ones being:
- Decreased sexual desire and problems maintaining an erection
- Insomnia, fatigue, and irritability
- Memory and concentration problems
- Heart palpitations
- Decreased strength and muscle mass
- Variation in pilosity (beard and body hair)
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Increased body fat and changes in body composition
- Increased bone fragility
Causes and triggers
With age, the testes gradually produce less testosterone. For some men, testosterone levels in the blood might drop by 1% to 2% each year after age 30. Certain changes in the body that are associated with age can also reduce the effects of testosterone.
Andropause is primarily treated by replacing lost testosterone. Testosterone can be administered as a tablet, transdermal patch or injection, or as a gel applied to the skin or via the nose. In all cases, it's essential for the patient to be monitored by a doctor during treatment.
Healthy lifestyle habits can also help manage certain symptoms. In fact, obesity increases the symptoms associated with andropause. Exercising frequently, maintaining a healthy diet, learning to better manage stress, and quitting smoking can also help treat the symptoms of andropause. Finally, frequent sexual intercourse helps stimulate testosterone production.
When should I see a health care professional?
Before consulting a health care professional, you can take the ADAM (Androgen Deficiency in Aging Males) questionnaire below. This questionnaire consists of 10 simple questions that help determine whether your symptoms might be related to andropause.
|1.||Do you have a decrease in libido (sex drive) ?|
|2.||Do you have a lack of energy ?|
|3.||Do you have a decrease in strength and/or endurance ?|
|4.||Have you lost height ?|
|5.||Have you noticed a decreased "enjoyment of life" ?|
|6.||Are you sad and/or grumpy ?|
|7.||Are your erections less strong ?|
|8.||Have you noted a recent deterioration in your ability to play sports ?|
|9.||Are you falling asleep after dinner ?|
|10.||Has there been a recent deterioration in your work performance ?|
If you answered "Yes" to question 1 or 7, or to more than three questions, you should talk to your healthcare professional about your symptoms.
Canadian Men's Health Foundation