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Men's Health: talking about Andropause (Fact or Fiction?) and symptoms to discuss with your physician.

Understanding Andropause: Fact or Fiction?

June is National Men’s Health Month, so it’s a great time to learn more about conditions that impact men. Paying attention to your health, especially as you age, is important. Having self awareness and remaining conscious about your body’s state will allow you to stay in tune with your needs and the signals that your body is sending you. Understanding andropause is part of this, so let’s dive deeper into the topic. 

Andropause, or male menopause, is not widely accepted as a legitimate medical phenomenon. There are several reasons why the idea of male menopause has been received with skepticism. 

Understanding andropause – the difficulties

It’s important to realize why andropause is being criticized and there hasn’t been much research into it. The reasons range from severity to societal norms, so examining some of the main reasons why andropause isn’t widely known is helpful in understanding the condition.

First, it’s a much more gradual event than menopause. 

While a woman will experience a measurable and obvious drop in her estrogen levels beginning in her forties, a man’s testosterone levels begin to drop very gradually as early as thirty years old. Since the shift in hormones occurs so differently in men, the accompanying symptoms are also more gradual. For example, a woman may suddenly find herself irritable or depressed, and recognize that a change has taken place. However, a man’s onset of symptoms takes much longer, so he may not recognize that he is changing.

There is still much that needs to be learned about andropause. Studies need to be done to examine its effects, so that healthcare professionals can understand treatment options and be better equipped to help their patients. Understanding andropause is going to require more research and dedicated attention from professionals.

Second, andropause is not as final as menopause. 

When a woman’s estrogen levels decline sufficiently, her menstrual cycle will cease. She will be unable to bear children. Her ovaries will not produce eggs, and her uterus will not be able to sustain a pregnancy. 

While similar things happen in men experiencing andropause, they are still able to have children. Men continue to produce enough testosterone into their 80’s and are able to father children. Perhaps the biggest reason that scientists have discussed andropause with skepticism is that men do not experience the biological changes to the full extent that women do.

Third, men are expected to be stoic about symptoms. 

Women have support groups, literature, and medical experts lining up to assist with the change of life. Decades-long, nationwide studies are done about the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy to treat menopause. 

It’s not widely accepted for men to talk about problems such as weight gain, thinning hair, difficulty achieving or maintaining erections, sleeplessness, or depression. Men often cope silently for fear of being judged or invalidated. This is extremely unfortunate, as coping is often easier when professional intervention can be openly sought.

If you think that you may be experiencing andropause symptoms, reach out to your primary healthcare provider and make an appointment. They’ll be able to provide you with advice and guidance that’s specific for your situation. Getting medical attention and support from your community is important, regardless of the health issue, so making an appointment is a great first step.

Beginning conversations

Acknowledging the truth of male menopause is definitely the first step in helping men cope with the changes taking place in their bodies. Beginning conversations about andropause and having those discussions openly will help remove the stigma and provide more education. By spreading awareness about andropause, our society can move towards more acceptance and solutions for individuals that are struggling.

While there are limited options for helping andropause symptoms, there are some possibilities. Many men have recently overcome andropause symptoms by taking supplements and making dietary changes.

Learning about various health topics is an important part of someone’s health journey. Beginning open and honest conversations about these topics is essential when it comes to removing stigmas. For additional information about male menopause/andropause and treatment options that can help, please speak to your healthcare provider or nutritionist.