What Is Andropause?
Changing hormones not only affect women in terms of perimenopause and menopause, they affect the male population too.
Andropause, also known as male menopause, is when the levels of androgen or testosterone, the male hormone, begins to decline in men with age. This is also referred to as low testosterone.
Production of testosterone reduces with aging; however, it can also be caused due to health conditions such as diabetes.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is essentially the male hormone that is responsible for the deep voice, muscle, and body and facial hair in men. It is also responsible for normal sexual functions, the formation of bones, metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids, proper functioning of the prostate gland and liver in men. As men grow older, the testosterone levels and sperm production by the body reduce and due to this, men experience both physical, as well as, psychological symptoms.
In the case of women, when menopause occurs, the production of the female hormone completely stops, whereas, in men, the decline in testosterone production is much slower and gradual and the testosterone production does not stop completely. If a man is healthy, he can produce sperm up to 80 years or even later. Around 30% of men who are in their 50s experience the symptoms of andropause, which is caused due to the low levels of testosterone.
Although the most important factor for andropause is the decrease in production of testosterone, this is not the only reason. Another hormone known as SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) starts increasing. This hormone pulls the usable testosterone from the blood. The testosterone that is not bound to the SHBG hormone is known as bioavailable testosterone i.e. it can be used by the body.
Men experiencing andropause have less amount of bioavailable testosterone in the blood, which means that the tissues using testosterone get a reduced amount of the hormone, causing the various physical, mental and emotional changes.
What Are The Symptoms Of Andropause?
Some of the common symptoms of andropause, including the decline in testosterone are:
- Weakness, fatigue
- Mood swings and irritability, depression
- Low sex drive, difficulty in getting erections or weak erections
- Lack of energy, loss of muscle mass and strength
- Increase in body fat, hot flashes
Other physical, psychological and sexual problems associated with andropause that can become worse with age are:
- Low self-confidence and low self-esteem
- Difficulty in concentrating, memory loss
- Diminished motivation
- Insomnia (difficulty in sleeping)
A person having andropause can have many other symptoms associated with this condition like reduction in testicle size, tender or swollen breasts and loss of body hair and can be at risk of other serious health conditions such as osteoporosis (brittle bones) and cardiovascular problems.
What Are The Causes Of Andropause?
- Physical stress caused due to injury or surgery
- Psychological stress (depression, anxiety, etc.)
- Medication (use of prescription and non-prescription drugs)
- Lack of exercise
- Insulin resistance
- Smoking, alcohol, obesity
- Poor circulation of blood, infections
- Poor diet, weight gain (especially abdominal fat)
- Lack of sleep, hypertension
- Hormone therapy (for diseases such as prostate cancer)
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Andropause?
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle.
- Quit smoking.
- Follow a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly to stop muscle mass and build lean muscle. Take up an exercise routine like walking, jogging, swimming or cycling. Including strength training once a week to your exercise routine can also help.
- Taking some supplements like zinc, vitamin B6, D-Aspartic acid, Maca root, omega-3 fish oil supplement and fenugreek can help to increase testosterone levels. However, before doing so, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor.
- Reduce your stress by doing some yoga, meditation and breathing exercises.
- Get proper sleep.
- Get professional help if you are suffering from depression.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Andropause?
- Weight gain and obesity: This can cause a reduction in testosterone levels and hence cause andropause.
- Avoid estrogenic compounds: When andropause occurs, the testosterone to estrogen ratio falls. If you are exposed to any source of estrogens such as certain personal care products, plastic food wraps, meat and dairy products, it upsets the testosterone-estrogen balance. Avoid food containers made of regular plastic, use organic, pastured and grass-fed animal products and use paraben-free and chemical-free personal care products.
What Are The Best Foods For Andropause?
A poor diet can be a major cause for andropause. So, make sure that you follow a nutritious and balanced diet.
- Fruits and vegetables are a wonderful source of polyphenols, antioxidants, fiber, essential vitamins and minerals.
- Eat whole grains and products made of whole grains and avoid foods like white bread, pasta, and rice.
- Use healthy fats for cooking that are rich in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids e.g. olive oil, canola oil, etc.
- Load up on plant proteins such as whole grains, beans, legumes, etc.
- Drink green tea, which is rich in antioxidants.
- Eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to boost immunity, fights inflammation in the body and helps in preventing depression.
- Eat foods that are rich in zinc such as baked beans, watermelon seeds, sesame seeds and shellfish. Foods rich in zinc can help to boost testosterone production.
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
Men above 50 years of age should follow the daily calorie guidelines.
- Sedentary or Not Active: around 2,000 calories
- Moderately Active: 2,200 – 2,400 calories
- Fairly Active: 2,400 – 2,800 calories
What Are The Worst Foods For Andropause?
You must avoid foods that cause weight gain and hormone imbalance that precipitate the symptoms of andropause.
- Avoid foods that are refined and processed.
- Avoid eating foods that contain additives, preservatives, and supplements that are harmful to health.
- Reduce consumption of carbohydrate-dense foods such as rice, bread, pasta, etc.
- Avoid refined sugar, sugary foods and beverages like ice creams, candy, desserts, colas and fizzy drinks, etc., as they cause weight gain and obesity.
- Limit the amount of caffeine consumption (coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc.)
- Reduce or completely quit drinking alcohol.
- Avoid the consumption of fatty and junk foods.
What Are The Medicines For Andropause?
What Are The Tips To Manage Andropause?
If the various options don’t work out for you in managing your andropause symptoms, then you must not hesitate to consult your doctor. Your doctor may be able to suggest more effective solutions for your problem and may even recommend HRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy).