When a woman is cranky or moody, the blame is pointed at hormones or “her time of the month,” but what about when a man exhibits the same behavior?
Is it as simple as he’s just having a bad day or is stressed about work, money, or family? Turns out, the answer may be no.
Hormone changes are a natural part of aging, but it’s not only women who suffer from their effects. Doctors are finding that men are reporting similar symptoms to those of a woman experiencing perimenopause or menopause, including moodiness, fatigue, weight gain, depression, decreased sex drive, decreased muscle mass and bone loss.
During the well-defined time of menopause, ovulation ends and a woman’s ovaries stop hormone production completely; however, for men, the testosterone, or androgen, decline is a much more gradual process that occurs over a period of many years. The production of testosterone takes place in the testes and is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
With the slow deceleration of the hormone, also integral in sperm production, a healthy male may be able to create sperm well into his eighties.
Several terms have been given to the so-called male menopause, including androgen deficiency of the aging male, testosterone deficiency, late-onset hypogonadism, andropause and manopause.
Diagnosis and Symptoms
It’s equally as important for men as it is for the women in their lives who love them to understand the signs, symptoms and treatment options for manopause.
Talking to a doctor is the first step in diagnosing manopause. A man will receive a physical exam and a series of blood tests. The doctor will ask about any health issues that may be causing or contributing to his symptoms – from medication side effects to erectile dysfunction and other sexual issues. There may also be other diagnostic tests done to rule out other medical problems that could be a factor in his condition.
Because the hormone decline in men is so gradual, some symptoms may go unnoticed for years, while for others, lower levels may cause:
- Changes in sexual functions – Including erectile dysfunction, reduced sexual desire, fewer spontaneous erections – such as during sleep – and infertility, testes could also become smaller
- Changes in sleep patterns – Possible sleep disturbances, such as insomnia, or increased sleepiness
- Physical changes – Increased body fat, reduced muscle bulk with declines in strength and endurance, decreased bone density. Swollen or tender breasts and loss of body hair are possible; hot flashes and decreased energy are rare
- Emotional changes – Decrease in motivation or self-confidence, feelings of sadness or depression, or trouble concentrating or remembering things
Man Up to Manopause
The goal is to get testosterone back up to a normal level, and although men can’t boost their natural testosterone production, there are a few treatment options to discuss with a doctor that may help.
A few simple lifestyle changes – exercise, a healthier diet and the elimination of alcohol – may help men alleviate some of their symptoms. Better overall health can help alleviate the symptoms of low testosterone.
Most importantly, talk to your doctor. Be sure to schedule your annual check-up with your primary care physician.