Say the word “menopause” and a look of understanding…even frustration…comes across the face of many women (and men!) within earshot. For women, mood swings, hot flashes and loss of libido can make menopause an uncomfortable beginning to the next stage of life.
While men do not experience classic menopause for obvious physiological reasons, they do experience a change of life of their own. Andropause, or male menopause, can be quite debilitating for men especially because it’s often misunderstood and under diagnosed.
A man’s testosterone levels decline naturally with age. “Low T” is characterized by the loss of the male hormone and often occurs in mid 40s to mid 50s. Men as young as early 30s can begin to experience symptoms of low testosterone.
Andropause causes many uncomfortable and even debilitating symptoms including fatigue, irritability, anxiety, depression, loss of focus and memory, erectile dysfunction, reduced libido and more.
Mukaram Gazi, MD, FACS, a board-certified urologist, Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and the founding member of University Urology Associates of New Jersey, urges patients to come in and speak very candidly about their low T symptoms. In fact, UUANJ has a program titled Men’sHealth@UUANJ designed exclusively to deal with male issues.
“When it comes to men’s health, there are very few things I haven’t heard before,” Dr. Gazi says. “Embarrassment should not be a reason to suffer through symptoms.”
When a man appears to be experiencing symptoms of possible andropause, Dr. Gazi runs a full panel of tests to check not only for low T, but also the levels of other hormones.“Testosterone must be prescribed carefully after thorough investigation of all symptoms and possible causes and after considering the risk factors,” he says. “We want to appropriately diagnose and evaluate every patient before prescribing any treatment.”
Once diagnosed, there is help and hope. Testosterone replacement can truly put an end to many symptoms of andropause.
George Trim, MD, FACOG, FACS, NCMP, is a board-certified OB/GYN and age management physician in the Monmouth and Ocean County areas who has been actively treating andropause in men for many years.
“The number one misconception about andropause has to do with the treatment. For decades it was believed that testosterone replacement therapy either increased the risks for prostate cancer or, if a man had an undiagnosed prostate cancer, it would make it more aggressive,” says Dr. Trim. “We now know, thanks to Dr. Abraham Morgantaler at Harvard Medical School, these beliefs were based on a study in the 1940s with erroneous findings.”
In fact, testosterone replacement is safe and efficacious, Dr. Trim says. In addition to proper diet and exercise, testosterone can be increased “by administering testosterone via the many different delivery systems available or,possibly, supplementing with medicines that will, in turn, raise a man’s own level.”
However, both doctors warned there are no over the counter (OTC) solutions for low testosterone or andropause. There are pros and cons to each method and they should be discussed with a knowledgeable physician.
If there is a silver lining of being diagnosed with low T, it’s this: “Men who receive testosterone replacement report that they feel sexier,stronger and healthier,” Dr. Trim says. “They state that it makes them feel as they did when they were in their prime.”