• Dr. Randi Brown, ND

Menopause in Men? What is “Andropause", and What Can We do About It?



What is Andropause?

What do I mean when I say andropause? “Andro” is referring to male sex hormones such as testosterone and “-pause” meaning to stop production or function of these hormones in aging men. Now, before you get worried about completely losing your manhood along with your age, I will note that this process should be more accurately described as “Andro-dwindle” because unlike menopause, androgens like testosterone do not decline completely, nor does it result in a complete deficiency (phew!). As well, andropause happens much more gradually with more variability in terms of age of onset and symptoms one may experience. There is some debate about whether andropause (read: "androgen decline in aging men”) is something we should be concerned about or if it's just a natural process of aging, but with so much variation in so-called “normal testosterone levels” if it was me, I would want to ensure that I had the highest natural levels attainable to reduce any chances of experiencing premature or rapid androgen decline. 


Are you experiencing androgen decline? 

How do you know if your androgens are declining faster than they should?  Some common symptoms associated with lower testosterone levels include low libido, fatigue, weight gain, and cognitive decline. Low testosterone, however, is not the only culprit known to cause these symptoms. Chronic illness or stress, lack of exercise, increase alcohol consumption, pharmaceuticals, or conditions such as insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity could also explain these symptoms. That's why getting a proper evaluation of your symptoms supported with comprehensive laboratory testing can help distinguish true low testosterone from other age-related processes. 


The proactive, naturally-focused solution

Physical exercise may be the number one way to naturally boost testosterone. Regular moderate to intense exercise not only boosts testosterone levels but also increases muscle mass and fat loss, improves cognition and mental performance, and may even improve sexual function. Diet and nutrition is another commonly overlooked aspect of male hormonal health and sexual dysfunction. A diet full of vegetables, fiber, mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and healthy proteins are likely to help maintain a healthy weight, prevent cardiovascular events, and improve overall health and mood.


Having a healthy nutrition and fitness plan is the best way to maintain a healthy body composition, which is an important factor in preventing metabolic syndrome, obesity, and diabetes, all of which have been associated with lower testosterone levels in men.

The Bottom Line

In summary, andropause is not as well defined as the female counterpart, menopause. That is not to say, however, we cannot take actionable steps to prevent premature androgen decline in aging men. There are many natural, health-promoting methods to address, prevent or reverse andropause. Most notably regular physical activity, a healthy balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy body composition. All of these simple steps will go a long way in terms of preserving physical, cognitive and sexual function throughout life stages. 


Have any questions about men's hormonal health?

Contact the clinic to book a meet & greet, or get a full health assessment and comprehensive hormonal work-up to discover which steps to take to regain your hormonal health.


References

Giagulli VA, Kaufman JM, Vermeulen A. Pathogenesis of the decreased androgenlevels in obese men. J Clin EndocrinolMetab 1994;79:997–1000

Jensen TK, Andersson AM, Jørgensen N,Andersen AG, Carlsen E, Petersen JH,Skakkebaek NE. Body mass index in relationto semen quality and reproductive hormones among 1,558 Danish men. FertilSteril 2004;82:863–870

Tenover JS. Androgen administration to aging men. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 1994;23:877–892.4

Morales A, Heaton JP, Carson CC III. Andropause: A misnomer for a true clinical entity. J Urol.2000;163:705–712.

Tan RS. Andropause: Introducing the concept of ‘‘relative hypogonadism’’ in aging males [letter]. Int JImpot Res. 2002;14:319.14Smith KW, Feldman HA

Marin P, Holmang S, Jonsson L. The effects of testosterone treatment on body composition and metabolismin middle-aged obese men. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1992;16:991–997.

Huo, S., Scialli, A. R., McGarvey, S., Hill, E., Tügertimur, B., Hogenmiller, A., ... & Fugh-Berman, A. (2016). Treatment of men for “low testosterone”: a systematic review. PloS one11(9), e0162480.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2015). Harvard Men's Health Watch: Is testosterone therapy safe? Take a breath before you take the plunge. [Online article]. Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/is-testosterone-therapy-safe-take-a-breath-before-you-take-the-plunge

Tenover JS. Androgen administration to aging men. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 1994;23:877–892.4

Sih R, Morley JE, Kaiser FE. Testosterone replacement in older hypogonadal men: A 12-month randomizedcontrolled trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997;82:1661–1667.

Morales A, Heaton JP, Carson CC III. Andropause: A misnomer for a true clinical entity. J Urol.2000;163:705–712.

Tan RS. Andropause: Introducing the concept of ‘‘relative hypogonadism’’ in aging males [letter]. Int JImpot Res. 2002;14:319.14Smith KW, Feldman HA

Marin P, Holmang S, Jonsson L. The effects of testosterone treatment on body composition and metabolismin middle-aged obese men. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1992;16:991–997.

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Dr. Brown is a member in good standing with the British Columbia Association of Naturopathic Doctors (BCNA), the College of Naturopathic Physicians in BC (CNPBC) and the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND). She has pharmaceutical prescribing authority, and also holds certificates in acupuncture, IV and injection therapy, and has advanced cardiac life support training.

As a naturopathic doctor serving the communities of southern Vancouver Island, I acknowledge that land on which I practice naturopathic medicine is within the traditional territories of the Lkwungen (Esquimalt and Songhees), Malahat, Pacheedaht, Scia'new, T'Sou-ke, and WSANEC peoples.