Andropause is also known as male menopause, the male climacteric, "man-opause", androgen deficiency of the aging male (ADAM), partial androgen deficiency in aging males (PADAM), symptomatic late onset hypogonadism (SLOH), or hypogonadism. These are all terms used to describe the male equivalent to female menopause. Whereas in women, menopause is a certain event that officially happens once the ovaries stop producing hormones and there is no longer any menstruation for one year, the male does not have a 'cycle' that stops functioning.
But two hormones do decrease with time: testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). After age 30, testosterone levels decrease 1% per year, or 10% every 10 years. With the gradual decrease in testosterone comes an increase in sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) starting at age 35, which leads to further decreases in the free testosterone that is available.
Symptoms of andropause include: decrease in libido, decrease in quality of sexual experience, diminished morning erection, insomnia, hot flashes, fatigue, memory problems, decreased concentration, and sweating.
Andropause may lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer's Disease and depression. Therefore, the stress of having andropause deserves medical attention if symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe and affect quality of life.
Men at risk to get andropause include the following: men who work on incinerators, on farms with pesticides, as well as men working in the plastics and pharmaceutical industries. Medical diagnoses that are likely to have problems with testosterone levels are: diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as the genetic disorders Klinefelter's Syndrome, androgen insensitivity syndrome, and Wilson-Turner syndrome.
It is important for men to know that there is help available to assist in improving quality of life when there are seemingly dramatic changes due to aging. If these changes affect you, it may be that you can talk to your doctor or health care professional about checking your testosterone level and treating you with testosterone if you seem to be in andropause. It's a start.
We are all about Quality of Life, and this is a Quality of Life issue. You deserve the right attention.
Diamond J. Surviving Male Menopause: A Guide for Women and Men. 2000, Maperville, ILL: Sourcebooks. ISBN: 0-471-40262-1.
Fuller SJ, et al. Androgens in the etiology of Alzheimer's disease in aging men and possible therapeutic interventions. J Alzheimers Dis 12(2)129-42.
Tancredi A, et al. No major month to month variation in free testosterone levels in aging males. Minor impact on the biological diagnosis of 'andropause'. Psychoneuroendocrinology 30(7):638-46.
Tan, RS et al. Role of androgens in mild cognitive impairment and possible interventions during menopause. Med Hypotheses 60(3):448-52.