We have often come across men (husband, brother, son or in-law) in their middle age who have become suddenly quiet, irritable, anxious, easily disturbed and often listless. When asked, they may say that they are just too tired or on the extreme end may begin losing their cool – a bit too often! So what is the probable reason for their change in behaviour?

Just as in women (menopause); Men also experience a decline in male hormone (testosterone) post the age of 40. By the age of 50, a large number of men experience a significant drop in testosterone levels causing a variety of uncomfortable symptoms and ailments. (Weakened sex drive, anxiety, depression, moodiness, sometimes accompanied by a sense of failure.) This condition is jokingly referred to as male menopause, also called “andropause”. Men do not lose their fertility during andropause. However, they too undergo important physical and hormonal changes.

Why does it happen?

Usually, the occurrence of male menopause is a natural outcome of the ageing process. More often than not, andropause is triggered by illness, diabetes and obesity. Diseases associated with lungs or heart, any form of autoimmune disease or cancer increases the risk for low testosterone levels.

What are the possible treatments?

Unfortunately, many men are not very vocal about their experiences and therefore end up getting treated for other symptoms rather than for declining testosterone levels. Hormonal replacement therapy and diet therapy are the two lines of treatments that can ease symptoms of male menopause.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)

Like estrogen replacement therapy, testosterone replacement aids in bringing the hormonal levels back to a healthy level. It is prescribed in cases where men have had clear bone loss. However, this therapy is prescribed only after conducting specific tests (PSA levels).

Like any hormone replacement therapy, this too also has its own set of side effects. They include increased risk of heart disease, liver damage, stroke, sleep disturbances, breast enlargement and prostate cancer. Therefore, the probable side effects must be discussed thoroughly and the doctor must investigate the case thoroughly before suggesting the therapy.

Lifestyle Modification

  • By simply making a few lifestyle changes some of the symptoms associated with male menopause can be addressed.
  • Several symptoms associated with andropause can be minimized greatly by simply keeping your weight within a healthy range.
  • A diet rich in soluble and insoluble fibre helps reduce cholesterol levels and controls body weight. This can be achieved by consuming whole grain cereals and pulses, fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • With age, men too experience bone loss. Therefore, the diet must be supplemented with calcium-rich foods like dairy foods, sesame seeds and green leafy vegetables.
  • Getting adequate sleep helps in reducing irritability (associated with andropause).
  • Engaging in some form of relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation and laughter therapy helps reduce stress.

Last but not the least, (like menopausal women) men do need emotional support during this phase. The family should act as a strong pillar of support The intensity of symptoms varies in all men. Men on their part should not hesitate to seek help.

ANJALI MUKERJEE, Nutritionist, Founder Director-Health Total, having health centres in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Nashik, Indore.

Health Total treats obesity & other health related disorders.
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