Similar to women, men experience substantial hormonal shifts as they age, particularly in their testosterone levels. Understanding the concept of “male menopause” is crucial for preserving health and vitality in the years ahead.
The Role of Testosterone
Testosterone, essential for the development of male sexual characteristics, naturally increases and then decreases with age. Production peaks during puberty, continuing to rise incrementally until around the age of 30. After 30, levels may start declining at a rate of 1% per year. By age 70, some men may face up to a 50% reduction in testosterone levels compared to their peak. Testosterone impacts men and women differently due to its varying levels and roles across genders. In men, as a primary hormone, its age-related decline significantly influences sexual function and physical traits. Women, with naturally lower testosterone, experience milder effects from its decrease, adapting to hormonal changes during life events such as menstruation and menopause. Despite lower levels, testosterone in women is vital for bone health, muscle maintenance, and energy.
Confronting the Reality of Male Menopause
Male menopause, or andropause, is not a myth. Approximately 2 in 10 men over the age of 60 suffer from low testosterone levels, according to the American Urological Association. This prevalence increases to 3 in 10 men in their 70s and 80s. Symptoms such as reduced libido, fatigue, mood changes, erectile dysfunction, and physical changes can significantly impact quality of life.
A Resolution for Health Checks
The new year presents an ideal time for a health checkup. If you are over 40 and experiencing symptoms such as low energy or decreased sexual desire, consider having your testosterone levels checked. A mere 5% of men with low testosterone receive treatment, as indicated by a 2018 study from the New England Research Institutes. This low figure is primarily due to the lack of annual screenings, leading to undertreatment and underdiagnosis of essential health conditions.
Treatment Options for Low Testosterone
Treatment for low testosterone, known as testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), aims to improve symptoms like low libido, fatigue, and decreased muscle mass. Various methods exist, such as topical gels, injections, patches, pellets, and recently developed oral medications. Choosing the right type of TRT involves considering individual preferences, medical history, and lifestyle, and should be discussed with a healthcare provider. Medical supervision during TRT is crucial to adjust dosages and monitor potential side effects, including acne, sleep apnea, blood clots, and an increased risk of heart disease. Men with a history of prostate or breast cancer are typically advised against TRT.
Beyond Hormones: What You Can Do
Treating low testosterone extends beyond hormone therapy; lifestyle plays a crucial role. Obesity has been linked to lower testosterone levels, and studies show that losing weight can increase testosterone levels. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and good sleep not only benefit your body but also help maintain healthy testosterone levels. As you embrace 2024, commit not only to your fitness goals but also to a comprehensive approach to your well-being, starting with checking your hormone levels.