Changing hormone levels are linked to female menopause and the movement out of reproductive years. For men, reproductive years tend to last much longer, but hormone changes can greatly affect erectile function and libido from about 50 years of age on. Often referred to as male menopause, the change in hormone levels can be detected with blood hormone testing and corrected with testosterone supplementation.
What Causes Male Menopause?
Most often, natural aging causes a steady decline in testosterone levels leading to male menopause. In some cases, however, diseases like diabetes can also cause testosterone levels to drop. The decline is a gradual process with no defined end to reproductive ability, like in women. Instead, starting at about age 45 to 50, testosterone levels steadily decline and continue to decline at a slow pace until 70 years of age. After age 70, the decline in testosterone levels is far faster.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Male Menopause
A simple blood test can be run to verify testosterone levels in the body. If levels are too low, symptoms such as decreased libido, depression, and fatigue are common. There is no real medical effect associated with lower testosterone levels, so treatment is based upon desire rather than need.
If treatment is desired, testosterone replacement therapy, similar to hormone replacement can be prescribed by a physician. Treatment typically involves regular blood tests to verify testosterone levels are within normal limits. If a baseline testosterone level is included in the patient’s medical file taken before male menopause begins, treatment is much easier as doctors use the old value and the new value to prescribe the correct amount of testosterone.
The Mental Side of Male Menopause
Many men believe the word menopause is a womanly description that somehow threatens “manliness”. Every man will go through male menopause, some just notice more than others do. Talking with a family physician about male menopause symptoms and decreased libido does not threaten manliness. On the contrary, men with erectile dysfunction could be using an erectile dysfunction drug when all they need is testosterone supplementation.
Emotional depression and fatigue are two of the more common symptoms of male menopause, so feeling down is normal. Male menopause is not commonly diagnosed, which could mean being treated for depression as a standalone symptom. As is the case with erectile dysfunction, treatment for depression can be far more risky than testosterone supplementation. It is important to speak with your doctor about all medications you are taking and the potential of male menopause causing your symptoms.