Do low levels of testosterone indicate ‘Menopause’ among men?
Menopause is a medical term that refers to a sudden drop in female hormones. It also marks the end of a woman’s reproductive cycle as the egg production comes to a complete halt. Women experiencing menopause will usually go through some physical and emotional changes such as mood swings, a low sex drive and possible weight gain.
Menopause among women may be a natural part of life but did you know middle-aged men may also experience physical and emotional changes when they reach their forties or fifties? This gave rise to the term ‘male menopause’ or andropause.
This term is commonly used to describe the effect of low testosterone levels (also known as Low-T) experienced by some men as they age. However, unlike menopause among women, there is still an on-going debate if male menopause actually exists.
Here are the myths and facts of male menopause, based on the most recent information on this rather new medical phenomenon.
Myth: My testosterone levels will always be the same
Testosterone is a hormone which is responsible for the growth of body hair and strong bones as well as in sperm production. These male hormones also boost your testes and penis size when you hit puberty and influences your sex drive, throughout your life.
Levels of testosterone vary in from one man to another. It generally tends to decrease as you get older. According to WebMD, most men feel a decline in their testosterone levels as they get older. They experience symptoms such as being less muscular and having a lower sex drive. The Hormone Health Network reports that men drop an average of one percent of testosterone, per year, after the age of 30.
Myth: Male menopause is a recognised medical condition
Male menopause is a condition that is yet to be recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is important to note that although there is a decline in testosterone levels as a man ages, it does not mean that sperm production comes to an end. Hence, this is why a low testosterone level is not exactly the same as the female version of menopause.
Fact: It is normal to have lower testosterone levels as I get older
Having a gradual decline of testosterone levels as you age is natural. However, if you are experiencing a drastic drop in testosterone levels, this may possibly be due to other reasons such as the medication you take, obesity, testicular cancer or an injury affecting the testes. The normal total testosterone range for an adult man is 300 nanograms per deciliter to 800 nanograms per deciliter. Speak to your doctor about having a physical examination and a blood test to check if your testosterone level is normal.
Myth: Low-T will not affect my life
Not all men will experience low testosterone levels and its related symptoms. However, low testosterone levels may affect the quality of life among some men. Some of the common symptoms of low testosterone levels include mood swings, loss of muscle mass and lack of energy. Other symptoms include loss of body hair, having memory problems and experiencing hot flashes. Low testosterone levels can also lead to a drastic loss in bone density which will increase your risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Treatment options are available if low testosterone is affecting your health.
Myth: I should opt for hormone therapy when I reach my forties
If your testosterone level is found to be lower than normal, your doctor might may hormone therapy. Testosterone replacement therapy is available in the form of oral tablets, injections, and patches. Just like any other medication, there are pros and cons to this kind of treatment. The advantages include experiencing a significant improvement in symptoms such as a low sex drive and mood swings. The disadvantages, on the other hand, include enlarged breasts and an acceleration in prostate growth. Men with prostate cancer are not advised to undergo testosterone replacement therapy.
Do not opt for a testosterone replacement therapy without a doctor’s consultation. Speak to your doctor about the possible side effects and if you are a suitable candidate.
Fact: Erectile dysfunction is caused by low-T
Testosterone is responsible for a man’s erection. Hence, a low testosterone level does affect your sex drive and can lead to erectile dysfunction (ED). Erectile dysfunction is the inability to have or maintain an erection for sex. However, you should also take note that low levels of testosterone isn’t the only cause of ED. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are medical conditions which may disrupt blood flow to the penis, causing ED. Psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety may also lead to ED. Treatment options include testosterone replacement therapy and medications to manage the cause of ED.
Although male menopause is not officially recognised as a medical conditon, some men do experience a decrease in testosterone levels. Be aware of the possible signs and symptoms of low-T and seek help from a medical expert, especially if it is affecting your quality of life. Remember, low-T can also be caused by other medical conditions. Hence, it is important to manage and maintain your health throughout your life.
Myth: There are no other options besides hormone therapy
Besides undergoing testosterone replacement therapy, there are also natural ways for ageing men to maintain their health. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting adequate rest and sleep (seven to nine hours each night) and learning to cope well with stress.