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The andropause, also known as the male menopause, is the decline of testosterone and can affect one in five men, but many men actually put their symptoms down to a midlife crisis. Dr Marion Gluck, founder of The Marion Gluck Clinic and hormone specialist explores the signs, symptoms and treatment for declining testosterone.
The midlife crisis, especially in men, has become an easy way to explain away any changes in behaviour, mood or physical appearance as men get older. This easy banter can mask the real root of the problem and often, any significant changes can be signs that there is something more going on.
Often, when men present with symptoms such as low mood, weight gain, erectile dysfunction or a low sex drive, they will be prescribed anti-depressants or an erection treatment, but this usually doesn’t fix the underlying issue.
There is a little-known condition that affects 1 in 5 men called the andropause or the male menopause. The andropause occurs as hormone levels, particularly testosterone, decline with age. This happens naturally in men from age 30 onwards with some men becoming symptomatic when their testosterone levels fall below a critical level. This level differs for each man, so it is important to pay close attention to changes in behaviour and physical symptoms.
Testosterone is the main sex hormone in the male body and affects every aspect of men’s health and performance. Total testosterone levels decrease on average by 1.6% per year, whilst, free and bioavailable levels (the amount that can be utilised by your body) fall by 2%–3% per year. This can further be impacted by lifestyle factors, like excessive alcohol consumption.
Men who are experiencing low levels of testosterone report a loss of exuberant enjoyment of life, and many start to question their lives, their relationships and their work.
For men who have sailed through life and climbed the career ladder with ease, to suddenly start to question their work, their decision making and their problem solving can feel like they have had the rug pulled from beneath them.
Testosterone is the most important hormone in terms of brain health. With lower levels of testosterone, men may experience memory loss, difficulty concentrating and disturbed sleep, all of which can have a negative impact on job performance and general well-being.
For men with low testosterone, they may find it increasingly difficult to manage stress, both in their work or home life and this heightened level of stress can then lead to anxiety, even if they have coped well with these pressures in the past. These feelings of low mood can cause men to lose interest in hobbies which can also negatively impact their social lives, creating a full circle of isolation and feelings of overwhelm.
A lack of testosterone can affect mental agility, emotional health, energy and even appearance including skin and hair. All of these things combined can really cause a problem with performance at work and leave the man feeling isolated, with low confidence, anxiety or even depression. As we all know, men aren’t great at opening about their feelings but by seeking help they can find that there are treatment options available to get them back to feeling themselves.
Testosterone contributes to the healthy function of many systems within the male body, including the reproductive, central nervous and circulatory systems. TRT can help men regain the many elements of health and lifestyle that have been impacted by testosterone depletion.
TRT works by replacing depleted testosterone with bioidentical testosterone – this is identical to the testosterone in your own body. There are several ways to administer TRT, including injections, transdermal patches, lozenges and topical creams.
So, for any man who is experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t just put your symptoms down to ageing. There are lots of treatment options available and a hormonal expert may be able to help you back on the path of feeling great again. Work, personal life, hobbies and social life needn’t suffer, seek help and enjoy life to its fullness again.