Despite popular opinion, it is not only the female of the species that suffers from the effects of changing hormones. Medical professionals are now noticing that men are reporting symptoms similar to those a woman experiences in menopause and perimenopause. While opinion is split on whether men really do experience a male menopause, there is no denying that men experience hormone changes with age.
Because not all men appear to go through a well-defined male menopause, medical professionals often refer to the problem as low testosterone or andropause, which is a normal process as a man ages. As well as the decline of this hormone, men may also experience fatigue, mood swings, sexual dysfunction and weight gain. Whereas women will experience a complete halt to their hormone production, a man’s will decrease at a much slower rate and over a longer period of time. A woman’s ovaries also stop functioning as she hits menopause, but a man’s testicles can continue to produce sperm well into old age.
There are no specific tests a doctor can carry out in order to diagnose cases of male menopause. Instead, the professional will normally consult the man’s medical records, ask him questions about his health and wellbeing and carry out a physical examination. The doctor will also request a full blood test, which will determine the man’s hormone levels and whether he is suffering from a drop in testosterone.
Like the female menopause, hormone replacement therapy has had positive results on men suffering from the symptoms of low testosterone or menopause. This type of therapy is particularly helpful to men who are suffering from libido problems, fatigue and depression. As with female hormone therapy, there are some risks involved, as it is believed synthetic hormones can increase a man’s chances of prostate cancer.
As well as hormone replacement therapy, a medical professional may also suggest the male makes certain lifestyle changes. Giving up smoking, reducing alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet and completing regular exercise are all thought to help improve the symptoms of both female and male menopause. Some doctors also prescribe antidepressants to males experiencing the menopause, this helps improve their mood and puts them in a better frame of mind to cope with any other symptoms they have.
Men are most likely to experience the symptoms of menopause between the ages of 45 and 50. Men who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience symptoms at a younger age. However, it is important these symptoms be checked out by a doctor, as the symptoms of menopause are similar to those caused by other conditions such as diabetes. In fact, diabetes is the most under-diagnosed condition in men of this age group because the symptoms are so similar to those associated with male menopause. Add to this the fact many men will not seek treatment for their symptoms out of embarrassment, so the amount of men who actually do suffer from low testosterone is unclear.
Despite the obvious physical differences, there is little to separate a male and female when it comes to the menopause. However, whereas the female menopause indicates the natural end of a woman’s reproduction cycle, with appropriate hormone treatment males can continue to reproduce into their 70s and beyond.