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What is male menopause?

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Menopause is a well-known life phase that women experience but many people are unaware that there is a comparable condition for men. Referred to as “male menopause” or andropause, the phenomenon is a genuine medical concern that arises when a man experiences a significant decline in testosterone levels. It’s important for every man to have knowledge about the signs of male menopause!

Is it a myth?

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The phenomenon known as “male menopause” refers to the decline in testosterone levels that occurs as a result of aging, but it is vastly different to women. In women, the process of ovulation comes to a halt, leading to a significant decrease in hormone production. The production of testosterone and other hormones in men gradually decreases over the course of several years, leading to uncertain consequences.

A reduced ability to exercise

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According to the NHS, a reduced ability to exercise is one of the biggest symptoms a man might gain in his early 50s that could potentially point at male menopause. You might have never heard of the term before reading this article, but hopefully you’ll be able to identify with some of the symptoms being addressed, and be able to get the help you need.

Increased fatigue

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One common symptom that individuals may experience is a sudden and unexplained lack of energy. A common experience among many men is a noticeable decline in energy levels, leading to a lack of motivation for their once beloved hobbies and activities. Simple tasks like getting out of bed in the morning or making it through the day can become challenging.

Significant mood swings

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One of the most noticeable changes that men experience when going through andropause is the sudden changes in mood. Unpredictable mood swings that come out of nowhere can be attributed to a significant hormone imbalance. So the next time you’re unnecessarily angry or emotional, don’t just shrug it off. You might be going through male menopause after all!

Noticeable fat redistribution

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This is one that a lot of men can probably relate to; fat redistribution. For most of our lives, our body image is insanely important, and we try our hardest to look a certain way in order to fit in and be desired. Around the late 40s, early 50s, our bodies go through a change, and men can get larger bellies or gynaecomastia (man boobs) which can be really shameful!

Heightened irritability

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Along with mood swings, some men can get ridiculously irritable while experiencing male menopause. It can’t often be helped, and sometimes the rage comes from absolutely nowhere. If you are seeming to be a little less short-fused with your partner or children recently, consider whether you’ve been experiencing any other of these symptoms to identify if you’ve got a condition.

Sexual performance issues!

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This is potentially one of the hardest and most shameful symptoms on this list, and one that a lot of men don’t really want to talk about, but sexual performance is a hugely important sign of the male menopause. You might have noticed a difference in your sexual performance recently, that seems out of character and you can’t control it. If so, you might want to reach out for some help.

A lowered libido

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Not only is a change in sexual performance a big indicator of male menopause, but a lowered libido is also up there as a factor. The drop in testosterone affects the libido that you’ve been experiencing. Maybe you’re not just lazy, or not attracted to your partner, but perhaps your body is undergoing a change that’s effecting your libido! It’s not always easy to talk about.

Erectile dysfunction issues

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This is definitely a symptom that most men wouldn’t be comfortable sharing, but you’d be surprised at how many men are effected by it. Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get erect (or stay erect) for periods of time. Around 52% of men will experience some form of erectile dysfunction in their lifetime, solidifying the fact that there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

A drop in self-confidence

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It’s no surprise that all of the above factors can have a massive impact on the way that you feel within yourself, and dramatically effect how confident you are. It’s easy for these factors to effect your mental health negatively, and thus your confidence, but you shouldn’t suffer alone. If this sounds like you, reach out to your doctor or loved ones for help.

A lack of enthusiasm

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Given the significant drop in energy levels, excitement etc., it’s no surprise that your enthusiasm has probably dropped quite a bit too. Do you often get moaned at by your loved ones purely because you’re not looking or feeling excited about something? It’s not something you can help, is it? So, before you start getting defensive, look into why you’re feeling this way.

Significant loss in muscle mass

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When individuals experience a general decline in muscle strength that hinders their ability to carry out everyday activities, it could potentially indicate a low level of testosterone. If you’re at least forty years old and you’ve lost a significant amount of muscle mass, then you very well may be going through the male menopause, and might want to get checked out.

Loss of bone density

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Osteopenia, characterized by a decrease in bone mineral density (BMD), is a condition that leads to weakened bones. It’s frequently observed in men over the age of 50. Osteopenia typically doesn’t present any noticeable signs or symptoms. However, there is a painless screening test available that can effectively measure the strength of your bones.

Short-term memory loss

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Along with struggling to concentrate, male menopause can dramatically effect memory too, which can often just be put down to age. Realistically, it’s important to recognize if it’s a relatively normal level of memory loss that you’re experiencing, or whether you are seriously experiencing a huge hormonal imbalance that needs addressing and rectifying.

Increased difficulty sleeping

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While experiencing andropause doesn’t mean you’re going to exhibit every single symptom and sign on this list, it’s useful to see how many of them you can identify with in order to get the right help. Another big sign of men going through male menopause is an increased difficulty in sleeping. You might spend half the night tossing and turning, struggling to nod off.

Regular night sweats

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Not only would you have difficulty sleeping, but night sweats can also make an appearance too. Your hormonal imbalance could be to thank for this! Have you noticed much more recently, that you wake up from your sleep and the bed sheets (and you) are completely drenched? Yeah, the reason for that could be the male menopause, don’t just dismiss it.

Infertility is one too!

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While a lot of people aren’t looking to copulate in their late forties or early fifties, for some, it really is something they’d be looking to do. Perhaps you’ve waited all your life to have children, or maybe you struggled to have them beforehand. Often, hormonal imbalances can be the cause of infertility in men and this is definitely something you should talk to your doctor about if you’re worried.

Reduces levels of energy

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Energy levels can be hard to maintain, even as a youngster, and are generally quite different and vary from person to person. Yet, you might have noticed that your energy levels have seriously depleted just recently, and you just can’t even get up to wash the dishes, or take the dog on a walk. No, you’re not lazy, you might be going through male menopause!

Height loss!

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While this one is potentially not something you’d consider as a sign of male menopause, it definitely is something that can happen around this stage of life. By the age of 80, it’s quite normal for men to lose two inches of their height. However, if you’re noticing yourself shrink at an alarming rate by time of your 40s and 50s, then maybe there’s something deeper going on.

A change in your concentration

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For those going through the male menopause, experiencing difficulties with concentration might have become apparent. It’s easy to just brush it off as ageing, but in actuality there could be a lot more going on than just getting older. Many men who’ve experienced male menopause have spoken about how much they struggled with their concentration levels.

Hot flushes and sweats

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A lot of women talk about their hot flushes and sweats when they get into menopause age, but did you know that it’s not just the women that go through this symptom. The hormonal imbalance that comes with male menopause means that men may also get the same symptoms. You shouldn’t disregard or feel ashamed about any of the symptoms listed and if it’s worrying you, consult your doctor.

How is it diagnosed?

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So, how does a doctor diagnose you with male menopause, or andropause? Well, if you’ve been suffering from the symptoms listed, and you’re over 35, then you can potentially be assessed for andropause by your doctor. They will typically perform: a physical exam, urinalysis, blood work, and diagnostic imaging. They’ll usually have a conversation with you about your medical history too.

How many people suffer with it?

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Unlike menopause in women, the decrease in testosterone and the development of symptoms in men are more gradual. In Canada, it has been observed that a significant proportion of men, specifically over 25% of those aged 40 and above, encounter symptoms associated with andropause. So it’s many more men than you think! While not all men will experience this (unlike women), it’s still a difficult condition.

Now, ways to combat male menopause…

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According to the NHS, male menopause isn’t always something that can develop, but rather, is something that can be caused by a number of different factors. These factors tend to be able to be managed by changing different elements of your lifestyle in order to reinstate the hormonal imbalance that’s going inside. It’s important to not feel shameful about your male menopause!

Eating a healthy diet

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So in order to help you restore that hormonal imbalance, help with your muscle mass, fat redistribution and general mood, you should try and adopt a decent diet. Your diet should be balanced and not sugar-foods heavy, as this is to blame for a lot of mental health conditions. A good diet can actually go a long way, so don’t rule it out immediately.

Reducing stress levels

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Stress can be a nuisance for all sorts of medical conditions, and doctors will always prescribe you with “less stress” for various medical problems. With andropause, that also is the case. Reducing your stress levels (whether that be eliminating stressful factors in your life or taking a step back from work) can really help you restore that hormonal imbalance.

Getting a good amount of sleep

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Even though it might be hard with andropause and the symptoms associated with it, getting a decent (and consistent) amount of sleep each night can really benefit you. The general rule of thumb is that anywhere between 6.5 hours and 8 hours a night is good, but the closer to 8 you can get, the better. Try falling asleep around the same hours too in order to remain consistent.

Exercising regularly

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Exercising regularly has been proven to help with all sorts of mental health conditions, which can be a reason why you’re experiencing andropause, or a symptom of andropause itself. Try and push past the barriers that male menopause is throwing at you, in order for you to get the better of it, rather than it get the better of you. You should feel better for it!

Hormone replacement therapy

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Last, but not least, is hormone therapy. This can be utilized if your testosterone levels are really low, and can sometimes be injections, testosterone gel or medication that you take. If you’re confused about any of this, or think you might be experiencing male menopause yourself, definitely consult your doctor for a formal diagnosis and treatment path.

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