Is male menopause a reality?
- By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi
As opposed to the sudden drop in ovulation and hormonal levels in women, menopause in men is a gradual process. The consequences in men aren’t that clear. The health risks, though, are significant and it is important to recognize the symptoms of male menopause early on. Read along to know more.
A testosterone level of 300-1200 ng/dL is considered normal in a healthy male. As one ages, the testosterone levels too drop gradually. After 30 years of age, the levels drop by 1% per year. By the time a man crosses 50 years of age, he is in menopause.
Look out for the following signs to know if your testosterone levels are dropping :
- Low Libido : A low sex drive or decrease in inclination to have sex is the first sign of decreasing testosterone levels.
- Erectile Dysfunction : Testosterone is responsible for releasing nitric oxide that leads to erection. As the levels of testosterone decrease with age, getting an erection and maintaining it for longer periods of time may become difficult.
- Low Semen Level : The normal amount of semen ejaculated each time varies between 0.1 and 10 mL. This normal level is due to the efficient functioning of the testes, seminal vesicles, and prostate, all of which work under the influence of testosterone. As you age, the testosterone levels drop and the amount of semen ejaculated also drops.
- Orgasm Troubles : As you age, having an orgasm every time may be a bit difficult due to the dropping testosterone levels.
- Mood Swings : This happens in men as much as in women! The interesting thing here is that the man who suffers from it is the last one to note it and acknowledge. So, if you find yourself snapping and getting irritated at the smallest of things, get your testosterone levels checked.
- Depression : When you feel dull and demotivated at all times, and even doing the slightest of activity seems like a chore, it means that your testosterone levels have dropped to a significantly low level.
- Abdominal Fat : This is again an early sign of decreasing testosterone level. Belly fat is a sign of advancing age.
Low testosterone levels are a sign of advancing age. Not all men who have low testosterone levels may show symptoms. In such cases, there is no need for any kind of treatment.
Low testosterone may also be due to some other conditions like thyroid disease, excessive alcohol use, sleep apnea, etc.
After 30 years of age, the levels of testosterone drop by 1% per year. By the time a man crosses 50 years of age he is in menopause.
Identifying and eliminating these causes will restore the testosterone levels to normal.
However, if no cause can be attributed to the low testosterone levels, it is a clear indication of normal aging and 'menopause.'
As with women, men too have the option of hormone replacement therapy. However, this treatment is controversial. In some men, the testosterone replacement may relive several symptoms, but the risks far outweigh the benefits. An increased chance of heart attack, prostate cancer, and other health problems are associated with testosterone replacement therapy.
Herbal supplements for problems associated with decreasing testosterone levels are generally considered safe, but they too have no proven health benefits and are known to increase the risks for prostate cancer.
Male menopause isn’t as dramatic and abrupt as the menopause in women, but it is a reality. It happens gradually over a period of several years.