Understanding andropause

Options for men going through hormonal changes

By Devan Dippenaar

The power of testosterone is almost mythical, and no wonder: it can boost muscle, burn body fat, and support your mood, sleep, libido, energy, overall health, and quality of life. Unfortunately, most men experience a slow decline in testosterone after they hit the age of about 30, putting them at greater risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, low mineral density, impaired sexual function, reduced muscle mass, and diminished physical performance.

“Male menopause” is the more common term for andropause, but before we go any further, it’s important to state that it is nowhere near as instant as actual female menopause where ovulation ends and hormone production plummets. Every woman will go through menopause, but not every man will go through andropause.

This condition results from a drop in testosterone production in men who are 40 or older. It’s often associated with late-onset hypogonadism, or Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome, which includes the following symptoms:

• Reduced sexual desire, or low libido
• Fewer spontaneous erections
• Impotence
• Erectile dysfunction (ED)
• Infertility

Other signs of low testosterone levels include:

• Changes in sleep patterns
• Difficulty concentrating
• Lack of motivation
• Reduced muscle bulk and strength
• Decreased bone density
• Breast tissue development
• Depression
• Fatigue

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult your GP. They may be able to determine if symptoms are caused by any lifestyle or mental factors, such as stress or anxiety. If stress is the cause, they can recommend medication or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help. Exercise and relaxation can also help alleviate symptoms in some cases.

Your GP may order a blood test for you to determine your testosterone levels, and if you have a deficiency, you may be referred to an endocrinologist (a specialist in hormone problems). Please note however that this sort of test is not easily available on the NHS unless the symptoms are severe, and/or it is causing problems with conceiving.

A testosterone replacement, in the form of either injections, tablets, patches, implants or gels, can be used to correct hormone levels. If you choose not to go down the medical route, you might be able to improve testosterone levels by adopting some lifestyle habits that can also improve overall health and well-being. These include:

• Getting enough sleep
• Maintaining a balanced diet
• Losing weight
• Staying active
• Reducing stress
• Taking vitamins and supplements, notably vitamin D, D-Aspartic acid, zinc, and fenugreek extract
• Reviewing current medications (if any) and discussing with your doctor if they could be affecting you
• Avoid drugs and alcohol
• Eating more ‘good’ fats
• Training more with multi-joint exercises.

Improving testosterone levels naturally takes dedication and perseverance, is not guaranteed to work, and is best done with some guidance.

Devan Dippenaar is a coach and fitness consultant with over 14 years of experience. For more info, visit: my247pt.com or instagram.com/devandippenaar



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