Women may not be the only ones who suffer the effects of changing hormones. Some doctors are noticing that men are reporting some of the same symptoms that women experience in perimenopause and menopause.
The medical community is debating whether or not men really do go through a well-defined menopause. Doctors say that men receiving hormone therapy with testosterone have reported relief of some of the symptoms associated with so-called male menopause.
Menopause is the end of a woman's menstrual cycle and fertility. It happens when the ovaries no longer make estrogen and progesterone, two hormones needed for a woman's fertility, and periods have stopped for 1 year.
Menopause happens naturally with age. But it can also happen as a result of surgery, treatment of a disease, or illness. In these cases it is called induced menopause or premature ovarian failure.
Because men do not go through a well-defined period referred to as menopause, some doctors refer to this problem as androgen (testosterone) decline in the aging male -- or what some people call low testosterone. Men do experience a decline in the production of the male hormone testosterone with aging, but this also occurs with conditions such as diabetes.
Along with the decline in testosterone, some men experience symptoms that include:
The relationship of these symptoms to decreased testosterone levels is still controversial.
Unlike menopause in women, when hormone production stops completely, testosterone decline in men is a slower process. The testes, unlike the ovaries, do not run out of the substance it needs to make testosterone. A healthy man may be able to make sperm well into his 80s or later.
However, as a result of disease, subtle changes in the function of the testes may occur as early as age 45 to 50 and more dramatically after the age of 70 in some men.
How Is Male Menopause Diagnosed?
To make the diagnosis of male menopause, the doctor will:
Perform a physical exam
Ask about symptoms
Order tests to rule out medical problems that may be contributing to the condition
Order blood tests, which may include measuring testosterone level
Just as with hormone replacement therapy in women, testosterone replacement therapy has potential risks and side effects. Replacing testosterone may worsen prostate cancer, for example.
If you are considering androgen replacement therapy, talk to a doctor to learn more. Your doctor may also recommend certain lifestyle or other changes to help with some symptoms of male menopause. These include: