Health & Wellness

The State of Men's Health: Andropause

By MSF Staff and reviewed by the MSF Medical Advisory Board
Menopause is not a word you would expect to see in an article about men’s health. But guess what? There really is such a thing as male menopause. This is the name sometimes given to the naturally occurring reduction of androgens, the substance that produces or stimulates male hormones. Generally, this is called andropause or male menopause. Technically, though, these names refer to Partial Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Male.
This is a normal part of aging. These bodily changes occur gradually and may be accompanied by altered attitude and mood. Changes in libido and physical agility, as well as an overall feeling of fatigue, may become apparent.
Unlike menopause, which generally occurs during a woman’s mid-forties to mid-fifties, a man’s “transition” may be much more gradual, extending over several decades. Attitude, psychological stress, alcohol, injuries, surgery, medications, obesity, and infections can all contribute to the onset of andropause. Although with age, a decline in testosterone levels will occur in virtually all men (1 to 1.5 percent annually), there is no way of predicting who will experience andropausal symptoms of sufficient severity to seek medical help. Neither is it predictable at what age symptoms will occur in a particular individual. Some men are affected at age 35, others at 50. Each man’s symptoms will be different. A recent report from the World Health Organization stated that “male androgens progressively decline with age.” The study tested androgen levels at age 25 and by age 70 androgen levels were only 10 percent of what they were during youth.
Andropause is not new. It was first described in the Journal of the American Medical Association in the mid-1940s. Yet, only recently has the U.S. medical community taken notice of this condition and gained the ability to diagnose it properly. Many people experiencing the symptoms of andropause have endured an extended period of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment.
Generally, a man’s life span is now longer than it once was. This has led to a heightened interest in andropause among medical researchers. Treatment options include oral capsules, injections, and skin patches. To date, very few side effects have been observed. Testosterone therapy has proven effective in relieving andropausal symptoms, usually within three to six weeks’ time. Many men claim improved sexual performance, a feeling of health and vitality along with an overall sense of well being.
It is important to realize that changes in libido, increased fatigue and decreased physical agility are also symptoms of MS. For that reason, a diagnosis of andropause may be overlooked. After your next blood work and physical exam, ask your doctor if you might be a suitable candidate for testosterone replacement.
(Last reviewed 7/2009)