Ah, hormones! We’re all familiar with the significant changes that menopause brings about in women, when natural hormone production declines then stops fairly quickly (usually in a few years). In men, the effects of ageing on hormone production are more subtle.
The main hormone produced by men is testosterone, which is responsible for so-called “masculine” features such as body hair, a deep voice, bone growth, etc. Testosterone is produced by a man’s testicles throughout his entire life. But after about age 30, production of this hormone gradually—and subtly!—slows down. This natural drop in testosterone and the resulting symptoms are often called “andropause.” As testosterone decreases slowly, symptoms often appear sneakily and insidiously, unlike menopause in women where hormonal changes are generally more noticeable. The symptoms associated with andropause are mainly erectile dysfunction, loss of interest in sex, trouble sleeping and focusing, irritability, depressed mood, and a decline in muscle mass and bone health. All these changes are sometimes attributed to the normal ageing process in men, but they can also be caused by various health problems. Be-cause these issues can be difficult to navigate, it’s important to talk to your health professional!