Andropause

Introduction
Andropause is also referred as the male menopause. The ailment results from a gradual decrease in testosterone, a type of androgen. The name andropause is derived from androgen, a group of male hormones responsible for male traits and reproductive activity in a person. In many cases, bioidentical hormones can be part of the solution. After men enter their early 30s, they begin to lose testosterone at a pace of one to two percent every year. According to the US Census Bureau, about 4-5 million men carry symptoms of low testosterone levels and only a few of them seek treatment.

Latest World Health Organization (WHO) survey revealed that the testosterone levels in most 70 year old men was 10 percent of the level found in 25 years old. When men reach 40 to 55 years of age, they begin experiencing symptoms of andropause.

Testosterone helps the male body to build protein and is necessary for normal sexual drive and stamina, and in experiencing erections. This hormone also contributes to several metabolic functions such as bone formation, liver function, prostate gland growth and production of blood cells in bone marrow.

It has been studied that while testosterone declines in men, the Sex Binding Hormone Globulin (SHBG), also called androgen-binding protein increases. This inhibits testosterone from working and the available testosterone which is referred to as bioavailable testosterone declines with time. This causes gradual menopause in males.

Symptoms
Along with decline in testosterone, some men experience symptoms that include:

  • Irritable Male Syndrome
  • Diminished libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Weight gain
  • Hot Flashes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Hair Loss
  • Muscle loss
  • Fatigue
  • Night Sweats
  • Gynecomastia (male breasts)

However, the connection between these symptoms and decreased testosterone levels are not proven.

While menopause in women occurs due to a total halt of hormone production, testosterone decline in men is a comparatively gradual process. Andropausal man produces testosterone but on a lower level. However, a healthy man can produce sperms even at a later age.

Due to this disease, slight changes in the function of the testes are likely to occur as around 45 to 50 age, and the process speeds up after the age of 70 in few men.

Diagnosis
To ascertain presence of male menopause, the doctor performs a physical test and will ask the patient about symptoms in detail.

Blood tests measuring testosterone are recommended.

Treatment
When testosterone levels are low, testosterone replacement therapy can help to lessen symptoms such as decreased libido, depression and fatigue.

Similar to the hormone replacement therapy that is performed in women, testosterone replacement therapy has potential risks and side effects. Replacing testosterone is likely to aggravate risk of worsen prostate cancer.

Testosterone replacement therapy is prescribed for men with low testosterone for boosting their health and well-being on the whole. The therapy may not apply for all in similar fashion as every man has unique structure and physiology. Hence, one should seek expert advice from healthcare specialist before embarking on this therapy. A well conducted treatment has been said to help men struggling with menopause.

Besides recommending certain lifestyle changes, the doctor will ask the patient to change his diet and include regular exercise in his routine. In order to relive some of the symptoms of male menopause, antidepressants may be prescribed.

A diet complete with whole grains, lean protein, fresh vegetables and fruits are good for improving energy levels. Zinc is an essential element to increase testosterone. It is usually found in pork meat, oysters, crabs, chickpeas and cashews.

Homeopathic Remedies
Selenium, Lycopodium and Agnus castus are few effective homeopathic remedies to treat andropause.

Herbal Remedies
Tongkat Ali is a popular herb used in Eastern traditional medicines. It is used to increase libido and boost testosterone levels. Herbs such as Ashwagandha, Maca, Oat extract, Ginkgo biloba, Fennel and Valerian root are some of the known remedies that increase male hormones and boost the sperm count.


References
1. Matsumoto, A.M. Andropause: clinical implications of the decline in serum testosterone levels with aging in men. J Gerontol Med Sci. 2002; 57A:M76–M99.

2. Malviya N, Jain S, Gupta VB, Vyas S. Recent studies on aphrodisiac herbs for the management of male sexual dysfunction–a review. Acta Pol Pharm. 2011 Jan-Feb; 68(1):3-8.

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