Is Andropause the Male Version of Menopause?
Changes in aging men occur gradually
By Jean Jeffers, Staff Writer
Aging brings natural changes to the human body. In women, there is menopause. In men, there is andropause.
Andropause is the term given to the condition of aging in a male. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says men do not experience a major, rapid change in fertility as they age as women do with menopause. The changes in men occur more gradually. Testicular tissue mass decreases and testosterone, a hormone made in the testicles, decreases or stays the same. A man may have more of a problem getting an erection, and the process may be slower and less intense. Men continue to produce sperm, but the tubes carrying the sperm may become less elastic.
The prostate enlarges with age as some of the prostate tissue is replaced with scar-like tissue, according to the NIH. This condition is called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and is a common health problem that affects about 50 percent of men. BPH may cause problems such as slowed urination and ejaculation.
Fertility does not seem to be affected as men age. The volume of fluid ejaculated during sex remains the same as men get older, but there are fewer living sperm in the fluid. Men may have a lower sex drive (libido), and sexual responses may be slower. Age itself does not prevent a man from being able to enjoy sexual relationships, says the NIH.
Testosterone levels naturally drop with age. According to the NIH, testosterone has the following benefits:
- Keeps bones and muscles strong.
- Determines hair growth and fat storage.
- Makes sperm.
- Maintains sex drive.
- Makes red blood cells.
- Boosts energy and mood.
Symptoms of low testosterone include a diminished sex drive, problems having an erection, a low sperm count, sleep problems, a decrease in muscle size and strength, bone loss, an increase in body fat, depression and trouble concentrating.
Hormone therapy in the form of a gel, patch, injection or implant may help low testosterone levels. Treatments such as these keep bones and muscles strong. It is unclear, however, whether hormone therapy is helpful for older men with low testosterone levels.
Prostate cancer is more likely to occur as men age. Bladder cancer also becomes more common. The NIH encourages treatment for heart disease and diabetes that may prevent problems with urinary and sexual function. Healthy eating and exercise also helps promote healthy aging.
National Institute on Aging, “Health and Aging: Can We Prevent Aging?”
NIH Medline Plus: “Aging Changes to the Male Reproductive System”