Men, too, go through menopause
Most people know that women experience menopause, but did you know that many men also go through a kind of male menopause?
It is medically known as ‘andropause’ and some researchers believe it might be the explanation for the so-called ‘midlife crisis’.
Andropause is the result of a gradual drop in the male sex hormone testosterone, which is responsible for deep voices plus the facial and body hair found in men.
It helps the male body in building muscle mass and is crucial for normal sexual drive and stamina. It also helps in producing erections and contributes to bone formation and prostate gland growth.
Unlike women who have a sharp drop in the female sex hormones at menopause, male drop in testosterone is a more gradual process.
Research has shown that when men get into their 40s, they begin losing testosterone at a rate of 1-2 per cent per year. Most men begin to experience andropause from about 50 years.
Even though sperm quality and production diminishes with age, most men can still produce sperm even in their eighties or older.
Some studies show that the decline of testosterone in andropause may put men at risk for heart disease.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
If you think you may be going through problems related to andropause, ask your doctor to refer you to a doctor who specialises in hormones. There are several in Kenya).
He/she will assess to see if you need to have your testosterone levels checked. He will also check to see if you need Testosterone Replacement Therapy.
Remember, since some of the symptoms associated with andropause are a normal part of ageing and may not be reversible with treatment.
Some cases where testosterone replacement therapy may be given include men with marked bone thinning, which can lead to osteoporosis and decreased height, and in treating sexual dysfunction in cases where prescribed medications don’t work.
What can you expect from testosterone treatment?
Different men have different responses to therapy, however, many report improvement in energy level, sex drive, and quality of erections.
Some even report an improvement in mood. Testosterone also increases bone density, muscle mass, and may even help improve obesity in some men.
However, some men report minimal improvement – especially older men.
Forms available: Injection, gel, patches, capsules and implants.
Do not use if you have breast or prostate cancer. Studies have shown that the testosterone may worsen the condition.
Use with extreme caution in men with enlarged prostates (BPH) and those with heart, kidney and liver conditions.
Unlike in women, research into hormonal replacement therapy in men is painfully lagging behind and there are currently no studies on its long-term effects.
In cases where the therapy may not work, the doctors may then just deal with the presenting condtition such as treat a depression if it’s there.
Studies have shown that the body has a substance known as aromatase enzyme which turns testosterone into the female hormone oestrogen when certain substances are ingested.
This substances include alcohol, fat and interestingly, grapefruit. It is therefore important to cut down on these foods and increase your exercise level if you are going through andropause.
Unlike the case for women undergoing menopause, currently, there is no herbal supplement that has been approved by the Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board for the treatment of andropause.