There’s a lot of talk about what women experience as they age. But men are also vulnerable male menopause which cause changes later in life – and those often mirror what women experience.
This is sometimes referred to as “male menopause” – even though it’s not a true medical term. When you think of hormones, you often think of female hormones, but men also have a delicate balance of hormones that can change over time.
It’s All About Hormones
For men, the most prevalent hormone is testosterone. And as you age, you may experience a drop in this hormone level. When that happens, it’s possible you’ll start noticing changes in your body that are symptoms of this change.
Testosterone is made in the testes. When women experience menopause, the ovaries completely stop making hormones and other glands in the body take over. But for men, the testes can produce testosterone until the end of your life.
However, even though testosterone production continues it can decline so much that you feel significant changes in your body. And some of these symptoms are pretty frustrating.
The good news is that there are some ways that your hormone levels can be measured and if your testosterone level is too low, there are treatment options. Many men who experience treatment report a reversal of symptoms.
There are also natural ways to boost testosterone levels so that you can feel like your younger self. While “male menopause” isn’t an official medical diagnosis, it’s certainly common enough that there are some real options for you.
This process usually begins during your middle-age years – around 45-50 years old. It can even occur later. If you begin to notice changes at this time in your life, male menopause may be to blame.
Symptoms of Male Menopause
So how do you know you might have a decrease in your testosterone levels? There are several telltale symptoms you may notice as you age. These should raise some warning flags that you need to pay attention to your body.
First, you may notice a general decline in your energy levels. Men who have testosterone levels that are too low often report feeling fatigued and weak. However, there are other health problems that can cause these symptoms, so it’s important not to ignore warnings your body is giving you.
You may also notice that you’re feeling depressed or down. Low testosterone levels can be responsible for this problem as well. But one of the most common problems with low testosterone levels is a decrease in sexual desire.
Testosterone is the main hormone responsible for libido in both men and women. When your levels are too low, your desire for sex may dwindle. This can have a negative impact on your relationship.
You may also notice that your sleep patterns change. This can occur in a couple of different ways. You may notice that you sleep less and have to deal with a bit of insomnia. You may also feel more tired and sleep more.
It’s also possible for you to experience some changes in your body. For example, you may put on more body fat and see a decline in muscle tissue. You may also notice that your hair begins to thin.
Gynecomastia is another symptom of low testosterone levels. This is the increase in male breast tissue sometimes called “man boobs”. This can cause you to feel swelling and tenderness in your chest.
And some men even report experiencing hot flashes when they’re dealing with this change in hormone levels, though this isn’t a common symptom for men. The bottom line is that you’ll feel changes in your body as your testosterone levels lower.
Diagnosing Male Menopause
Some of the symptoms caused by lower testosterone levels are also caused by getting older. And some of them can be warning signs of more serious health problems. That’s why it’s so important to see your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis.
In general, your doctor is going to run several tests. He or she will perform a general physical exam – you should be having those every year anyway! You’ll also be asked to describe your symptoms.
This is a really important part of your consultation because you know your own body best. Make sure not to leave out any information. In fact, you may want to write down all the symptoms you’re experiencing so you have it to refer to in the doctor’s office.
Many people leave out symptoms they may find embarrassing. But your doctor has heard it all before, so make sure you don’t let anything stay hidden under the rug. The more information you give, the more help you can have with a proper diagnosis.
Finally, your doctor is likely going to order some tests. Your testosterone levels will need to be measured to see if they are in the normal range. You may also have other tests to rule out medical conditions that could be causing your problems.
Once the blood work comes back from the lab, your doctor will either call you with the results or schedule a follow up appointment to discuss them with you. This will give you an opportunity to go over the report and talk about possible treatment options.
Make sure to discuss any medications you’re currently taking with your healthcare provider. Some medications can specifically cause your testosterone levels to drop and adjusting them can improve the situation.
In Part 2 next week, we discuss treatments and some ways to increase testosterone levels both naturally and through supplementation.