When men reach the age of 30 they start to experience a gradual decline in the hormone testosterone. This decline is sometimes known as ‘andropause’. It is a completely normal natural process, but in some circumstances, can lead to unwelcome symptoms such as depression, low libido, and erectile dysfunction, amongst others.
This is sometimes also referred to as “male menopause” although this term can be misleading as it is very different from menopause experienced by women. In women, menopause marks the end of reproductive years and involves a significant change in hormones over a short period of time, whereas the changes experienced by men are far steadier and more gradual. Most men experience around a 1% fall in testosterone each year from around the age of 30 to 40 onwards.
Andropause is often linked to hypogonadism which also involves a decrease in testosterone levels and often has similar symptoms.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, and it plays a big role in maintaining bone density, muscle mass, fat distribution, red blood cell production, and sex drive. The symptoms of this natural reduction in testosterone vary from person to person, and not all men will experience the same effects.
Common signs and symptoms of low testosterone may include:
Reduced libido (sex drive)
Erectile dysfunction or difficulty achieving and maintaining erections
Fatigue or decreased energy levels
Decreased muscle mass and strength
Increased body fat
Mood changes, such as irritability or depression
Difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or sleep disturbances
Reduced bone density
Decreased motivation or drive
Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other health issues. If you experience these symptoms, particularly if they are interfering with everyday life and happiness, it’s important to get checked out to find out the underlying cause.
Some common advice for dealing with symptoms related to testosterone decrease is to make healthy lifestyle choices such as:
Eating a healthy, balanced diet
Getting plenty of exercise
Getting enough good quality sleep
Making time for fun and reducing stress
This is good advice for everyone, but particularly when you are not feeling your best, these lifestyle factors can play a huge part in how severe your symptoms are and how much they affect you.
There are other ways of treating low testosterone and related symptoms, such as anti-depressants, or hormone replacement therapy, but it’s important to talk to your GP about the pros and cons of any treatment.
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