Andropause, or male menopause, can bring on a host of uncomfortable symptoms like weight gain, low sex drive, and fatigue, among many others. If you’ve experienced these symptoms lately, you may be wondering if they’re connected to the lower levels of testosterone associated with andropause. You may also be wondering, how long does male menopause last? And, more importantly, how can it be treated?
What Causes Andropause?
Testosterone is an androgen, or male hormone, produced in the testicles and the adrenal glands. Although women also require low levels of testosterone (and produce their own in the ovaries and adrenal glands), higher concentrations of this sex hormone are responsible for producing the deeper voice, heavier muscle development, and increased volume of facial and body hair typically found in men. Additionally, testosterone regulates sexual desire, bone density, fat metabolism, and the production of red blood cells and sperm.
For men, testosterone peaks somewhere in their mid-20s and gradually declines from about age 30 onward at a rate of 1-2 percent per year. By age 70 or 80, it is common for men’s testosterone levels to have fallen to half of their peak levels. Factors like stress, obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise can contribute to faster testosterone loss and a worsening of andropause symptoms.
Unlike menopause for women, which tends to be a more rapid and dramatic hormonal change, andropause is a slow and lengthy process—which can make it harder to identify. While the gradual decrease in testosterone may feel unnoticeable for some men, it can produce a variety of uncomfortable symptoms for others.
What Are the Symptoms of Andropause?
In addition to weight gain (particularly around the abdomen and chest), loss of libido, and fatigue, men undergoing andropause may experience decreased muscle mass, erectile dysfunction, mood disturbances, and hair loss. Symptoms similar to those associated with menopause in women—such as memory and cognitive decline, increased perspiration, and depression or mood fluctuations—are also associated with the lower levels of testosterone that occur during andropause.
It can be embarrassing for some men to talk about these symptoms of male menopause with their partners or practitioners, making it more likely that the problem will go undiagnosed. But neglecting to address low testosterone can seriously impact quality of life and pose even more serious health risks, including increased vulnerability to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. However, not all hormonal symptoms are the result of andropause; thyroid hormone, cortisol, human growth hormone, insulin, and Vitamin D imbalances can all mimic or contribute to symptoms of andropause. That’s why it’s important to work with a practitioner who specializes in these issues to find the exact cause and best treatment of your symptoms.
When Does Male Menopause Start?
In rare cases, men in their late 30s can experience the troublesome symptoms of andropause, but discomfort due to low testosterone typically begins between the ages of 40 and 60. A study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice found that almost 40 percent of men over 45 tested low in testosterone.
How Long Does Male Menopause Last?
Because male menopause is less well-defined than female menopause, this is a complicated question to answer. According to some sources, the uncomfortable effects of male menopause can last 15 to 20 years as the body gradually adjusts to lower testosterone production. But because testosterone levels continue to decline over a lifespan, many argue that if left untreated, male menopause lasts indefinitely. While some men may not notice symptoms of this hormonal change at all, others who experience a more rapid loss of testosterone production—or who are especially sensitive to the loss—are more likely to feel the discomforts.
Treatments for Andropause
Although a certain amount of age-related decline in testosterone levels is considered normal, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Decades ago, people had little choice but to endure a range of uncomfortable and risky health conditions. Today, however, we have numerous treatments available to improve quality of life.
Just as many women choose to undergo hormone replacement therapy to ease the discomforts of menopause, men can also benefit from specialized hormone treatments to address the symptoms and health risks of andropause. By seeking help for low testosterone, it is possible to restore your libido, rev up your energy, balance your mood, and build muscle tone. And at a time when both men and women are expected to live longer than previous generations, it is even more vital to safeguard health and preserve quality of life for the long-term.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is a minimally invasive, individualized, and effective way to treat low testosterone and the symptoms of andropause. The first step is to connect with a local practitioner experienced in BHRT to assess your symptoms and check your testosterone and other hormone levels. Using urine and/or blood testing, your practitioner can then prescribe a solution based on your hormonal needs. BHRT can be taken in a variety of forms, including topical gels or creams, patches, pills, pellets, injections, or troches (lozenges) customized for your preferences.
Your practitioner may also guide you toward lifestyle choices that help to optimize your hormone levels, such as eating a clean diet that’s rich in protein and healthy fats, reducing stress, and encouraging regular exercise. In many cases, adding certain natural supplements to your routine can also support your hormonal health and—in conjunction with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy—address the symptoms of andropause.
When seeking treatment for andropause, it’s critical that your practitioner has the knowledge and training necessary to address the complexities of hormonal change. By working with a BodyLogicMD-affiliated practitioner, you can ensure that you are in the care of an BHRT specialist who will draw on their expertise to design a personalized treatment plan based on your unique needs. With an individualized approach and advanced therapies, you have an opportunity to find lasting relief from the symptoms of andropause and live the life you want.
Think you might be experiencing andropause? BodyLogicMD-affiliated practitioners can help you find the relief you are looking for. Our network is comprised of top medical professionals who are specially certified to help you achieve your health goals using customized treatment plans designed to fit your lifestyle. To begin your journey toward optimal wellness, contact a local practitioner near you to schedule your first appointment or take our Hormone Balance Quiz to help assess your symptoms.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.