You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about male “menopause”, ranging from when it starts, what it entails, whether it’s even real and what it’s called. Well, we’ll be clearing up all of these burning questions – for starters, yes, it’s real, and it’s called andropause. So, any men out there scratching their heads for answers around their sudden weight gain and irritability, it could be andropause at play – here are 5 signs this is what you’re dealing with.
Andropause refers to the changes some men will experience when they get older – hence the term male “menopause”, which, while inaccurate, brings this condition into the spotlight. These changes differ greatly to menopause, but they do have something in common – hormonal changes. Many men will experience decreasing testosterone levels as they get older, with these levels believed to drop by 1 percent every year after the age of 30, and at the age of 70, these levels may be half of what they once were. These hormonal changes can cause a number of symptoms, and the most common age for these signs of andropause to kick in is around the late 40s and early 50s, and they can include anything from psychological symptoms like mood swings down to the physical symptoms like weight gain. Here are 5 of the most common signs you’re going through andropause.
Low levels of testosterone can result in sleep disorders like insomnia – this comes down to the important role this hormone plays in regulating your sleep cycle. You may find you’re having trouble getting to sleep or even just staying asleep – and broken sleep is a particularly distressing symptom with a range of knock-on effects in your waking hours, including the following:
- Brain fog
- Mood swings
- Irritability and a short temper
- Tiredness and daytime sleepiness
- Imbalanced blood sugar levels
Another common sign of andropause includes changes to the libido, and this is because of the role testosterone has in the function of the sex drive, along with stimulating the brain’s nerves in order to promote a higher libido. Erectile dysfunction is another result of these hormonal changes, along with a reduced sperm count.
Mental health issues are another sign of andropause, and depression is one of the most common. This is because testosterone is an essential feature of mood regulation, and when your levels of this hormone get thrown out of whack, you might start to notice some of the symptoms of depression creep in:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest in past hobbies
- Mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Poor appetite
- Feelings of guilt
- Thoughts of suicide
Mental health changes may be the first sign of andropause, so if you’ve noticed any concerning decline in mood, it’s worth heading down to the doctor’s to get to the bottom of it. It’s a common scenario for people to attribute the symptoms to another cause, but andropause could well be the culprit.
Low bone density
Similar to women with menopause experiencing greater rates of bone density decline, some men may also find it hard to maintain healthy bone density. This is because testosterone plays a major role in men’s bone health – and if your count of this hormone is slipping, you can end up with anything from decreased bone density to brittle bones as a result of osteoporosis. You may not even be aware you’ve got osteoporosis until it’s progressed to an extreme state of brittle and fragile bones where you may have experienced a breakage or other kind of injury. That’s why it’s important to go for a bone density screening test regularly – if you see your density is starting to decrease, you can begin working to rebuild that density before it becomes too far advanced. Eating vitamin K, vitamin D and calcium-rich foods, along with regularly doing weight-bearing exercises and resistance training is one of the best preventative practises to keep osteoporosis at bay. If you’re struggling to find the time to incorporate some physical activity into your schedule, any of the following are easy to set aside a few moments for and have been found to improve bone density:
- Elliptical training machines
- Stair climbing
A lot of people assume weight gain is a random side effect of getting older – you’ve probably heard the term “midlife spread” – and while it common for many people during the ageing process as new research has found that the lipid turnover in fat tissues slowed down regardless of how physically active you are or nutritionally-balanced your diet is, it’s worth noting that hormonal changes also play a massive role here. For a lot of men, andropause is to blame for the development of excess fat around the abdomen, and this is because testosterone slows the body’s build-up of fat around the gut. So, don’t brush off any unusual weight gain – it’s worth looking into whether andropause is at play and getting a medical check-up to take your next steps.
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