From the onset of their first period, women know menopause is part of their future and what to expect when they get there. Because menopause is widely written, talked, and joked about our male partners are just as aware of its approach and the changes it brings. However, it is not only women who go through a decline in production of sex hormones over time.
Andropause is the natural decline in male testosterone production. A man’s loss of testosterone is more gradual than a woman’s loss of estrogen so resulting changes are less abrupt, unless the testosterone level drops too low.
Should a man’s testosterone production fall below a certain level (300 nanograms per deciliter) his doctor would diagnose him with low testosterone (low T), or hypogonadism. Although you might expect a male partner could have low T in their fifties and beyond, it can happen earlier in life, just as some women experience early menopause.
EIGHT SIGNS OF LOW TESTOSTERONE
1. Lower Libido
It is normal with andropause for men to experience some decline in their sex drive. This drop in libido is more obvious and dramatic in men with low T and also makes it more difficult for them to reach an orgasm.
2. Problems with Erection
Testosterone fuels more than the male sex drive. It also plays a necessary supporting role in achieving an erection; low T is associated with erectile dysfunction.
3. Semen Scarcity
There is a correlation between a man’s level of testosterone and his body’s ability to produce semen. So, low T results in less semen.
Men with low T typically experience a noticeable drop in energy and might complain of extreme fatigue. They may stop doing things they enjoy, be less motivated to exercise, socialize, or take care of personal business. They simply do not have the energy.
5. Losing Hair
Testosterone is a major player in hair production and health, and balding is experienced by many men as they age. Men with low T may also notice a loss of facial and body hair (chest, arms, legs).
6. Less Muscle, More Fat
Not only might those with low T observe a decrease in muscle size and strength, they will also have difficulty rebuilding it through weight training, should they try. As they lose muscle, low T men might also be dismayed by an increase in their body fat.
Sex hormones boost more than our libido. Just as women may have mood swings or depression during menopause, men with low T can experience irritability, problems concentrating, and other depressive symptoms.
Testosterone is involved in bone manufacture and strength so naturally someone with low T is at higher risk for bone loss. This is especially true for men who have had low T for several years.
LOW T TESTS, TREATMENT, AND A NOTE FOR WOMEN
To check for low T, blood tests are given to determine an individual’s level of sex hormones, and a physician might also order a semen analysis. Since testosterone is important in the manufacture of red blood cells, tests for anemia are sometimes given. The thyroid may be examined to rule out any contributing problems there.
Low T is most often treated with TRT, or testosterone replacement therapy. It is given in patch, gel, and lozenge form, or by injection.
Although it is not common, women of any age can also experience problems when their testosterone levels become too low. Signs of this are fatigue, low sex drive, depressed mood, and an overall feeling of lethargy. If you suspect your partner or yourself has low T, a visit to your physician can get your hormones, health, and sex life, back in balance.