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“Andropause” the Male Version of Menopause

With so much publicity on women’s health issues being broadcast in the media by celebrities and talk show hosts, menopause, for one, has been well represented.  Men, also, go through hormonal changes, and unknowingly, tend to wallow in their misery, accepting the way they feel as part of getting older and accept that this is just the way it is.  Or is it? 

An estimated 30% of the male population between the ages of 30 – 50 may be experiencing a condition known as “Andropause” caused by a gradual decline in the hormone testosterone.

 Andropause is rapidly becoming a serious health problem in industrialized nations. This serious health problem is most likely due to the increased levels of xenoestrogens (foreign estrogens found in the environment), increased stress, the lack of essential nutrients in the diet and increased demands on the liver, making it difficult to excrete environmental toxins.

The influences of low testosterone on the male body are multifold.  Symptoms of andropause include: decreased libido, decrease in spontaneous morning erections, (the common early sign), spells of mental fatigue and inability to concentrate often leading to depression.  A consequence of depression is a lack of initiative.

Additionally, complaints of muscle soreness, decreased muscle mass and physical stamina are common. The lack of testosterone during the early 30’s may lead to diminished bone mass and the lack of development or loss of skeletal muscle. Testosterone appears to have an enormous influence on male metabolism.

Furthermore, low testosterone levels have been correlated to increased obesity, especially the waist to hip ratio, insulin resistance and increased cardiovascular risk. Signs of andropause that can be detected by blood work include increased total cholesterol or triglycerides and decreased HDL cholesterol. Other signs that occur are increased arterial plaque and decreased coronary artery dilation.  Bottom line, the set-up for heart attack!

Testosterone deficiency is common in men with diabetes, regardless of the type. Men with low testosterone and type 2 diabetes have been shown to have very high concentrations of C reactive protein, (CRP: protein that increases during systemic inflammation) which increases their risk of developing atherosclerosis  (the build up of a waxy plaque on the inside of blood vessels) and heart disease above and beyond the risk associated with diabetes.

Stress is a major contributor to declining testosterone levels.  When a man is under prolonged, unrelenting stress the body shifts the master hormone, pregnenolone, into cortisol, at the sacrifice of the other hormones.  Pregnenolone, which is derived from cholesterol, breaks down into DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, cortisol and testosterone.   

Collectively, these diminishing hormones, especially testosterone, have the ability to take an energetic, positive and passionate man and turn him into a bullish, pessimistic, and depressed man who has lost his passion and drive, consequently defining the ornery, grumpy, old man.  

This article is not inclusive of all the signs and symptoms generated by low testosterone; however, it does paint a picture of the condition.  It is advisable to have your doctor run the appropriate tests to determine the status of testosterone and other hormones.  The human body is always trying to maintain balance, as one system becomes overworked, it will attempt to maintain balance by pulling from another hormone or another system, until it gets overwhelmed and a flood of symptoms arise. 

This information is for educational purposes and is not intended for diagnosis or treatment.