There’s a lot of controversy over “male menopause” and whether it exists. One thing is for sure, it differs from the menopause women go through. But could there be a hormonal shift that men experience that’s their version of menopause?
Defining Male Menopause
The term “male menopause” is used to refer to hormonal changes that some men experience as they get older.
A natural part of male aging is for testosterone levels to decrease. Testosterone levels peak between adolescence and early adulthood. By age 30, these levels start to decline. This steady decline could leave you at 50% of your peak level by the time you’re in your 70’s.
The concern here is that some men’s testosterone levels decrease beyond normal levels. This could happen at any age, and since testosterone levels do steadily decrease over time, low initial levels could mean even lower levels later in life.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Regardless of when it occurs, low levels of testosterone can produce many symptoms and complications. Some symptoms to keep an eye out for:
Testosterone helps maintain male sex drive and function. Low testosterone can lead to erectile dysfunction and a decreased sperm count. If you experience prolonged low libido, it’s a good idea to get your hormone levels tested.
Testosterone is a great mood regulator. You might feel depressed if your testosterone level drops below normal.
Common symptoms of depression are things like: persistent sadness, a feeling of emptiness, anxiety, irritability, or anger. Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, or loss of interest in the things you once enjoyed.
These changes in your mood can affect your life and relationships with those around you. In some cases, depression may be the first symptom of low T that you notice.
Fatigue or struggling to have the energy for your normal activities could be a sign your hormone levels are off. If this persists, get your testosterone levels tested by your doctor.
Low T can also contribute to sleep problems. That’s because testosterone regulates sleep patterns. If your testosterone level declines, you might experience insomnia or changes to your sleep.
Watch out for a difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. If this happens regularly, you might experience daytime sleepiness, trouble focusing, irritability, and being easily angered.
Bone density is maintained through adequate testosterone levels. When these start to drop, it could cause your bones to become less dense, eventually leading to osteoporosis (brittle bones that fracture easily).
This is not usually an early sign to be noticed, because you might not realize you have osteoporosis until you fracture a bone. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of all of the symptoms you could be experiencing, so your doctor can keep an eye on the others.
Having excess abdominal fat can cause low testosterone, it can also be a result of low testosterone.
One of testosterone’s roles is to slow the buildup of belly fat on your body. Low testosterone could mean weight gain around your midsection. As a result, an enzyme in your fat tissue converts testosterone to estrogen, resulting in even lower levels of testosterone.
Other signs to keep an eye on
Other potential symptoms of low testosterone include:
- breast growth
- decreased motivation
- lowered self-confidence
- poor memory
- anxiety or nervousness
- reduced muscle mass and strength
- reduced body hair
If you have any of these signs or symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor to get your hormone levels tested.
See your doctor
If you’re experiencing any symptoms that you suspect are correlated with low testosterone, visit your doctor. They should be able to help you identify and address the cause of your symptoms.
The best way to treat this “male menopause” is with hormone replacement therapy in addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Remember that your lifestyle contributes to healthy hormone levels, so it’s your best course of action for prevention and recovery.