Who says only women experience menopause as and when they grow older? Studies have revealed that even men start to undergo menopause like symptoms with age. Also called as Andropause, Male Menopause or simply Man-opause (colloquially), the condition can be as frustrating to handle as menopause in ladies.
However, unlike menopause which signals the end of a woman’s fertility period (a woman cannot conceive after menopause), around 70% of men remain fertile after attaining andropause.
Male Menopause: Andropause
Just like women who experience a sharp decline in the estrogen and progesterone levels in their body during menopause, men tend to experience a decline in the testosterone and dehydropiandrosterone levels in their body.
Significant drops in the levels of these hormones in turn start to trigger several biological changes in the body. And these changes tend to cause certain side effects that are perceived to be general symptoms of andropause. Unlike women who start to experience menopausal symptoms all of a sudden, men would start to develop the initial symptoms of andropause over a period of time (even over a few years). The symptoms of andropause would not be well defined as well and would most likely be mistaken for other illnesses or disorders.
General Symptoms of Male Menopause
The symptoms of andropause resemble those associated with menopause (in females) to a great extent. The symptoms would usually vary from individual to individual, although certain risk factors like stress (both physical and psychological), trauma, obesity, infections, hormonal imbalances, existing medical conditions, ongoing medications and treatments, alcohol consumption, and drug abuse etc. can increase an individual’s chances of experiencing the symptoms of andropause sooner than expected. Given below are some of the more common symptoms of male menopause.
Loss of Libido
Andropause is associated with a drop in the testosterone levels in the body. Testosterone is directly linked to libido and a significant drop in the former would naturally lead to a decrease in sex drive in most males.
And this would usually reflect in the sexual performance, willingness to participate in sex and ability to get or hold an erection; all of which would take a beating with andropause.
Hot Flashes (or) Flushes
Men nearing andropause would usually start to experience hot flashes which are characterized by excessive sweating coupled with other symptoms like dizziness and nausea etc. These episodes would be so sudden that they would usually catch the person off guard. Men nearing andropause would also start to experience frequent night sweats which are equivalents of hot flashes during the day.
Muscle Loss & Physical Exhaustion
Men nearing andropause would start to experience significant muscle loss during this period. This would in turn reflect in their physical well being. Muscle loss would usually trigger after effects like physical exhaustion, fatigue and disinterest in physical activities.
Muscle loss would also trigger body pain (especially in the muscles and joints) which would also have a psychological impact on the individual’s well being.
Frequent Mood Swings
Like menopause, andropause would also cause frequent mood swings in men. Symptoms like irritability, anxiety, nervousness and depression are very common during andropause. An individual experiencing menopause would generally remain moody and turn aggressive for the smallest of issues.
He would tend to become extremely fidgety and restless at times, and would also become quite panicky at certain intervals. He would be happy and carefree one moment and then suddenly become very depressed (ready to break down in certain cases).
Individuals experiencing menopause would tend to find it difficult to sleep at nights. Even though they feel exhausted, they would not be able to sleep properly. Their sleeping patterns would change considerably and they would wake up several times in between a deep slumber. This in turn would leave them restless and exhausted the next day.
Although these are the general symptoms of andropause, some men may experience other symptoms like weight gain, impaired memory, hair fall, urinary problems, height reduction and in very rare cases, gynecomastia (otherwise called ‘male breasts’).