Andropause has been called "male menopause." It is a group of symptoms that can happen as men get older. It is due to the natural lowering of testosterone with age. More men may be asking their doctor for ways to manage symptoms.
Testosterone is a male sex hormone. During puberty, testosterone triggers changes in a boy's body. It makes his penis and testes get bigger. It makes hair grow on his face and pubic area. The boy's voice gets deeper. He gets bigger, stronger, and has larger muscles. In men, testosterone increases sex drive and production of sperm. It also influences male hair patterns, muscle mass, and bone mass.
As men age, their testosterone levels get lower. Female hormones also drop in women during menopause. However, in men, hormone loss happens more slowly over time.
Low levels of testosterone have been linked to certain health problems. These may include weakened bones, diabetes, and heart disease. Signs of low testosterone may include:
A simple blood test can check testosterone levels. However, testosterone levels change a lot during the day. A single test may not be enough to diagnose the condition.
Other things besides age can make male hormone levels drop. This includes conditions that affect the testes or certain parts of the brain.
If your testosterone levels are low, your doctor will want to know why. You will likely need more tests. If an underlying condition is found, it may be treated. This may enough to bring hormone levels back to normal. Otherwise, the doctor may advise testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
Some medicines may also cause testosterone to drop. Examples are long term use of opioids and steroids. If these medicines are stopped, testosterone levels may go back to normal.
For men who need it, TRT may be given as spills, injections, patches or gels, or a tablet that adheres to gums. For men with symptoms of low testosterone, TRT may help:
TRT is not without risks. It is not advised for men with certain health conditions. If you are considering this therapy, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.
National Institute on Aging
The Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism
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Testosterone therapy in men. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-review/testosterone-therapy-in-men . Updated June 15, 2021.
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Last reviewed June 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board