Aging-related hormone changes in men — sometimes called male menopause — are different from those in women. Here’s how to understand signs, symptoms and treatment options.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a worldwide leader in medical care, research and education, “Hormone changes are a natural part of aging. Unlike the more dramatic reproductive hormone plunge that occurs in women during menopause, however, sex hormone changes in men occur gradually — over a period of many years.”
When I did the research for my books, Male Menopause and Surviving Male Menopause, between 1990 and 1997, very little was known about the male change of life. Writing in Vanity Fair magazine in 1993, the author Gail Sheehy concluded, “If menopause is the silent passage, ‘male menopause’ is the unspeakable passage. It is fraught with secrecy, shame, and denial. It is much more fundamental than the ending of the fertile period of a woman’s life, because it strikes at the core of what it is to be a man.”
Here’s what to expect, and what you can do about it.
Debunking the male menopause myth
The term “male menopause” is sometimes used to describe decreasing testosterone levels or a reduction in the bioavailability of testosterone related to aging. “Female menopause and so-called male menopause are two different situations, however,” say the staff at the Mayo Clinic. “In women, ovulation ends and hormone production plummets during a relatively short period of time. In men, hormone production and testosterone bioavailability decline more gradually. The effects — such as changes in sexual function, energy level or mood — tend to be subtle and might go unnoticed for years.
So what’s the best way to refer to so-called male menopause? Many doctors use the term “andropause” to describe aging-related hormone changes in men. Other terms for so-called male menopause include testosterone deficiency or androgen deficiency of the aging male (ADAM).
Understanding male hormones over time
Testosterone levels vary greatly among men. In general, however, older men tend to have lower testosterone levels than do younger men. Testosterone levels gradually decline throughout adulthood — about 1 percent a year after age 30 on average. By about age 70, the decrease in a man’s testosterone level can be as much as 50 percent.
Male Menopause or Andropause is more than just low testosterone
Male Menopause begins with hormonal, physiological, and chemical changes that occur in all men generally between the ages of forty and fifty-five, though they can occur as early as thirty-five or as late as sixty-five. These changes affect all aspects of a man’s life. Male Menopause is, thus, a physical condition with psychological, interpersonal, social, and spiritual dimensions.
Just as everyone, male and female, goes through puberty, so too do all men and women go through the change of life we call Menopause (in women) and Male Menopause or Andropause (in men). But we each go through this stage of life in different ways. For some people this transition is smooth and easy. For others it is more challenging. Take the quiz and see how you are dealing with male menopause (If you’re a woman, you can take the quiz and reflect on how your man may be dealing with this change of life).
Once you know what’s changing and how it is impacting you personally and in your relationship, you’ll be in a better position to help and support each other.
Check off each of the symptoms you experience or notice.
1. Reduced libido or sex drive ( ).
2. Difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection ( ).
3. Irritability or grumpiness ( ).
4. Fatigue or loss of vitality ( ).
5. Aches, pains, or stiffness ( ).
6. Forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating ( ).
7. Feeling lonely, unattractive, or unloved ( ).
8. Impaired relationship with partner ( ).
9. Flushing, night sweats ( ).
10. Increased sexual dissatisfaction with self or partner ( ).
If you are concerned about male menopause in yourself or someone you care about, help is available:
- Email me, put “personal” in the subject line and describe your concerns. I’ll contact you immediately.
- Read these articles: How Male Menopause Impacts the Family and Male Menopause and Energy Medicine
- Get my books that help with these issues.
- Enter you email to the right to receive the comprehensive eBook: Male Menopause (Andropause) What is this Crazy Thing We Are Going Through?