Andropause is the result of low testosterone throughout your body. Learn how andropause can produce a profound and widespread range of symptoms.
What is Andropause?
By the time men are between the ages of 40 and 55, they can experience a phenomenon similar to the female menopause, called andropause. Unlike women, men do not have a clear-cut signpost such as the cessation of menstruation to mark this transition. Both, however, are distinguished by a drop in hormone levels. Estrogen in the female, testosterone in the male. The bodily changes occur very gradually in men and may be accompanied by changes in attitudes and moods, fatigue, a loss of energy, sex drive and physical agility.
Starting at about age 30, testosterone levels drop by about 10 percent every decade. At the same time, another factor in the body called Sex Binding Hormone Globulin, or SHBG, is increasing. SHBG traps much of the testosterone that is still circulating and makes it unavailable to exert its effects in the body’s tissues. What’s left over does the beneficial work and is known as “bioavailable” testosterone.
Andropause is associated with low (bioavailable) testosterone levels. Every man experiences a decline of bioavailable testosterone but some men’s levels dip lower than others. And when this happens these men can experience andropausal symptoms.
These symptoms can impact their quality of life and may expose them to other, longer-term risks of low-testosterone. It is estimated that 30 percent of men in their 50s will have testosterone levels low enough to be causing symptoms or putting them at risk.
Importance of Testosterone
Testosterone is a hormone that has a unique effect on a man’s total body. Testosterone is produced in the testes and in the adrenal glands. It is to males what estrogen is to females.
Testosterone helps to build protein and is essential for normal sexual behavior and producing erections. It also affects many metabolic activities such as production of blood cells in the bone marrow, bone formation, lipid metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, liver function and prostate gland growth. Impact of Low Testosterone
When there is less testosterone available to do its work, the testosterone target-organ response decreases, bringing about many changes.
There is great variability in testosterone levels among healthy men so not all will experience the same changes to the same extent. But typical responses to low bioavailable testosterone levels include:
- Low sex drive
- Emotional, psychological and behavioral changes
- Decreased muscle mass
- Loss of muscle strength
- Increased upper and central body fat
- Osteoporosis or weak bones and back pain
- Cardiovascular risk
Why should andropause be taken seriously?
Apart from the impact that andropause may have on your quality of life, there are other longer-term and silent effects of andropause that are harder to track: increased cardiovascular risk and osteoporosis.
Andropause and Osteoporosis
In a healthy individual, bone tissue is constantly being broken down and rebuilt. In an individual with osteoporosis, more bone tissue is lost than is regenerated.