Andropause is characterized by a series of physical changes and the appearance of new ailments in men over 50 years of age. These changes are generally associated with a progressive decline in testosterone levels in the body.
Testosterone is a sex hormone that is present in both men and women. It plays a significant role throughout the course of male puberty. Produced primarily by the testes, testosterone is, among other things, responsible for the appearance of body and facial hair, the deepening of the voice and the increase in muscle mass during development. It is also instrumental in the production of sperm and in the maintenance of sex drive.
It would seem that there are two slightly different phenomena responsible for the decline in testosterone levels in men. Firstly, certain individuals experience a decrease in the amount of testosterone produced by the testes. Secondly, certain age-related events reduce the effect of testosterone in the blood.
The most common symptoms of andropause are:
- Increased body fat and obesity
- Decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction
- Hot flashes
- Loss of muscle mass and strength
- Fatigue, irritability and insomnia
Andropause is a condition that must be diagnosed by a physician who will assess the patient's symptoms. The physician may also request blood tests to verify the level of available testosterone in the body. Before consulting with their physician, concerned patients can take the ADAM test. This test determines, through ten simple questions, whether the symptoms experienced could in fact be related to andropause.
If you answered "Yes" to question 1 or 7, or to more than three questions, you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms.
Replacing testosterone in the blood is the most common treatment. Testosterone is available in a variety of preparations such as capsules, skin patches, gels and injections. Monitoring and follow-up visits are vital throughout the course of treatment. Andropausal symptoms typically disappear within a few months of taking testosterone.
A healthy diet can also help reduce symptoms. In fact, obesity increases andropausal symptoms. Regular exercise, good stress management practices and not smoking are other means that can be taken to help treat andropause. And lastly, regular sexual relations help stimulate testosterone production.