Has the man in your life suddenly become grumpy and irritable, not as interested in sex and more content to sit on the sofa and watch TV? The Real Cougar Woman of today is learning all she can about menopause and what happens to her body when her hormones get out of whack. But what about the guys?
Men experience a different type of “menopause”. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 60—but sometimes as early as 30. The production of the male sex hormone testosterone diminishes gradually after age 40 and because it's a gradual decline, the symptoms may not be as pronounced as in our female menopause.
Testosterone is the predominant male sex hormone. It stimulates sperm production and organ growth. It aids muscle and bone growth too by facilitating the use of proteins. Testosterone also improves the cardiovascular system, protects against obesity, diabetes and improves brain function.
The loss of testosterone is often coupled with an increase in Sex Hormone Binding Globulin which binds to testosterone molecules. When that happens it reduces the amount of testosterone available for use by the body. That results in Andropause. And, to make matters worse, many men increase abdominal fat converting their testosterone into estrogen. It happens because a chemical called aromatase, stored in body fat, starts to metabolize testosterone to estrogen. This conversion has two effects—first, there is less testosterone available to perform male functions and second, the estrogen has a feminizing effect, which could include the development of “man breasts”. Studies also show that excess estrogen produced by aromatase leads to a possible increase in prostate cancer.
The symptoms of andropause can include fatigue, depression, increased irritability, mood swings, insomnia, decreased libido, loss of both lean body mass and bone mass, difficulty in attaining and sustaining erections. There are other factors (other than hormone deficiency) that can contribute to andropause. They are obesity, use of tobacco, high blood pressure, poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption, prescription and non-prescription medications and psychological problems.
The concept of male menopause or andropause is actually not new but now it is being discussed openly. So, let your man knows he is not alone and that there is good news. Hormone replacement and lifestyle changes can correct the problem. He can feel better.
The best thing you can is take him to a knowledgable physician for proper treatment. There is no need to suffer.