Andropause: Causes, Symptoms and TreatmentDec 14, 2021
By Jennifer Engels, MD
While most of us have at least a general knowledge of menopause, andropause is less well known although it’s quite common. So, what is andropause? What causes it, what are its symptoms, and how is it treated? In this discussion, I’ll provide some answers to these questions.
What is andropause?
Stated briefly, andropause is a condition associated with a decrease in the male hormone testosterone. It differs from menopause in that the decrease in testosterone and the symptoms associated with it are more gradual than menopause in women.
Testosterone is a hormone produced in the testes, and during puberty it plays a key role in turning boys into men. It’s responsible for the growth of facial hair, builds muscles and causes the male voice to deepen. Later in life, it plays a key role in a man’s sexual function.
Low testosterone, also called “low T,” often occurs naturally as men age. According to the Urology Care Foundation, approximately 20 percent of men in their 60s have low testosterone. That figure increases to 30 percent for men in their 70s, and by the time they reach their 80s, about 50 percent of men have a drop in their testosterone level.
It should also be noted that things other than aging can contribute to a low testosterone level. These include chemotherapy and radiation for the treatment of cancer in the genital area. Diseases of the pituitary gland and medicines affecting this gland can also be contributing factors.
Symptoms and possible complications
As with any condition, the symptoms of andropause vary with each individual, but in general, common symptoms of men going through andropause include:
- Reduced sex drive
- Difficulty getting and maintaining an erection
- Lack of energy
- Depression, irritability and mood swings
- Loss of strength or muscle mass
- Increase in body fat
- Hot flashes
Cardiovascular problems and osteoporosis (brittle bones) are among the possible complications associated with andropause, and with weakened bones you’re more susceptible to injury.
Diagnosis and treatment
The initial step in the diagnosis and treatment of andropause is to rule out any conditions that might be causing symptoms similar to those associated with andropause. This process begins with a physical examination, along with a review of your medical history and a blood test to check your hormone levels. If there are other issues, additional testing may be necessary to get to the root cause of your problem.
If you’re suffering from andropause, various treatment options are available. My own personal preference is the use of pellets over other methods used to increase the level of testosterone. I prefer this approach because it gives a steady release of testosterone over a five-month period. Once the pellets are deployed under the skin in the fatty tissue in the flank area, there’s little maintenance the patient has to do from that point on.
In contrast, if a man resorts to injections, they must either learn how to give themselves the shots once a week or go to their physician’s clinic every week for an injection. It should also be noted that with injections, the blood levels of testosterone fluctuate a lot, and men can have mood swings and not feel as good as they would with the use of pellets.
I also don’t like using gels, largely because they’re messy, expensive and can cause fluctuations in blood levels of testosterone.
Pellets provide a slow release of testosterone so that blood levels rise slowly to the target level and then stay there for about five months.
Call for an appointment
If you think you may be suffering the effects of andropause, help is available. To learn more about our approach in dealing with low testosterone, we urge you to contact us at WeCare Frisco to schedule your initial consultation.