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How much do you know about Andropause and Menopause?

April 26, 2018

The male equivalent to the female menopause: Andropause

Most of us are familiar with the term menopause. It refers to the natural changes that women experience at the end of their reproductive years. Less well known is that men go through a similar transition, known as andropause. As the name suggests this period of change does have similarities to the female menopause, and both can be attributed to the ageing process. A major difference however, is that the menopause in women is universal and expected. Whereas men experience a slow progression of transition due to a gradual decline in *testosterone (from the ‘androgen’ class of male hormones). A common symptom of testosterone deficiency is fatigue.

Testosterone in men

As men age a reduction of 1% per year in testosterone levels is normal from around the age of 40.  Although some men retain normal levels of testosterone into their eighties others experience a severe drop. This can affect a man’s libido (sex drive) and have an impact upon overall strength and wellbeing.  Among signs that may be attributable to low testosterone are an increased distribution of fat, loss of muscle, reduced bone mass and height.  Other symptoms can be depression, memory loss, heart palpitations and sleep problems – plus a reduction in the production of red blood cells and sperm. Low testosterone can be the cause behind a premature lack of energy, erectile dysfunction, mood swings and less ability to play sports.

Low Testosterone – self help

A reduction in waist circumference is one of the most modifiable risk factors for testosterone deficiency. Research has shown that as a man’s Body Mass Index (BMI) increases his testosterone level falls. Adequate testosterone in men can help improve cardiovascular health and muscle mass through loss of body fat. High intensity exercises combined with intermittent fasting may also help increase testosterone levels. Sugar where possible should be limited or eliminated from the diet.

Testosterone & Diabetes; There is a connection

With low testosterone, the risk of insulin resistance and developing Type 2 Diabetes increases. Normal levels of testosterone increases insulin sensitivity (improves the ability of cells to reach cells) and provides increased resistance to diabetes. Men with diabetes have much less testosterone than men without the disease. Studies have found that the pituitary glands of men with diabetes produce insufficient stimulating (luteinizing) hormones that trigger the production of testosterone in the testes.

The menopause, oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone in women

Menopause and becoming infertile is a natural part of ageing and usually occurs around the age of 50. It marks the end of menstrual cycles. A small number of women experience premature menopause at an earlier age. The hormones progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone start to decline at menopause.

The changes women may experience include skin dryness and loss of elasticity, thinning of the skin and increased wrinkling, hair disorders, oral dryness and gingivitis, vaginal dryness, cystitis, incontinence, weight gain, joint and muscle pain. Some body changes and symptoms that occur during the menopausal transition can be related to lower levels of oestrogen while others result from the ageing process.

Although testosterone is produced by the ovaries in women, it is only released into the bloodstream in small quantities. In women testosterone is an important anti-ageing hormone that improves bone strength, muscle mass and sex drive. A lack of testosterone can also impact a woman’s cognitive functionality, particularly in times of stress.  It is low *oestrogen however (a vital sex hormone) that is often the cause of irregular periods and urinary tract infections in women. Low progesterone can cause, headaches, weight gain, and thyroid dysfunction and contributes to a run-down feeling caused through hormonal imbalance.

The symptoms of menopause and self-help solutions

In menopause some symptoms of low oestrogen and progesterone are similar to those experienced by men with low levels of testosterone. The most common symptoms women experience include hot flushes, night sweats, irregular periods and bloating. Hot flushes may also be triggered by certain foods and drinks, such as spicy food, caffeine and alcohol (keep a note of what you eat and when you experience symptoms and adjust your diet accordingly). A regular exercise programme is one of the best self-help treatments. Meditation exercises, such as Yoga, a hot bath or even a night out with friends can also help manage the symptoms of menopause. Dressing in lighter clothing and in layers, can be of practical help when you overheat.

Health supplements

There are many natural supplements that may help manage the menopause transition. Some of these work by replacing depleted oestrogen with plant oestrogen. Others work by stimulating hormonal glands in your body, so that they produce more of their own oestrogen. A natural solution is Swissoats A111® which is proven to have a positive effect on  testosterone, progesterone and oestrogen. It is made from the concentrated extracts of green oats, stinging nettle and sea buckthorn. This combination of powerful antioxidants can increase energy levels, boost red blood cell count and assist in weight management.

Hormone Replacement Therapy / HRT (prescribed medication)

There are various prescription treatments for symptoms of menopause, a common one is HRT. This introduces synthetic hormones into the body to counteract hormonal imbalance, and can be very effective. Your doctor can discuss the risks and benefits of HRT. Some men with unnaturally low levels of testosterone may also benefit from HRT. It is uncertain whether HRT can assist healthy men whose decline in testosterone is simply caused by ageing.

References
Menopause and Body changes https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/533-menopause-and-body-changes
Singh, Parminder. 2013. “Andropause: Current Concepts.” Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism 17 (Suppl 3): S621–29. DOI: 10.4103/2230-8210.123552