What is Manopause?
Jun 13, 2011 05:08PM
● By Dr. Guy Francis
You may have heard of a new term for men’s hormonal changes called male menopause. There seems to be some controversy as to whether such a condition really exists, and if it affects the majority of men or only those with other serious medical problems. The answer is yes, there is such a condition; the medical term for it is andropause, and it will eventually affect all men as they age, at various rates.
Women experience an abrupt change at menopause; within two years they lose 90 percent of their sex hormones. They are very aware of the change; the cessation of menses and hot flashes are signs and symptoms they can’t help but notice.
Men, on the other hand, experience a slow, gradual loss of testosterone at about 10 percent every 10 years, beginning at about the age 30, and some of this is due to the natural aging process. More recently, it has been noticed happening in younger men and more intensely, due to our way of life; our diets, our life stresses, lack of exercise and the toxins we are exposed to daily.
The usual first signs that a man is experiencing the beginning of this process are a decrease in energy and fatigue. It becomes more difficult to concentrate and your sex drive wane; it’s harder to get up and get going in the morning and then there is afternoon tiredness. At this point, male menopause is a strong probability.
Andropause was recognized by researchers 50 years ago, but the medical profession in general has been slow to address it in men. There are now pioneering physicians and organizations working to bring an awareness of this condition to the medical community and public.
Men with low testosterone levels are at much greater risk for the degenerative diseases of aging such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s than those men having more normal levels of testosterone. Other benefits of normal testosterone levels are increased mental clarity and improved mood, as well as better mobility and flexibility and improved sexual desire and performance.
Every man needs a thorough evaluation, because the factors at play in one individual may be very different in another. A detailed medical history, followed by appropriate testing, is required. The human body is very complex, and it is important to get the best picture possible of the health status of the whole person.
If it is determined that testosterone replacement is indicated, this can be safely and efficiently administered in a number of ways. It cannot be done with pills, because swallowing testosterone destroys it. Injections work, but they have to be repeated weekly, with a drop in levels between injections. Pellets placed under the skin that are replaced every three to six months are another alternative. There are also prescription skin patches and gels.
Also, a dosage may be personalized and put in a vanishing cream base. This is applied to the skin daily for about 20 seconds. It has the least cost to the patient, the application is easy and quick, the hormone levels are very consistent and it’s easy to adjust the dosage for a specific patient.
So, is testosterone a magic bullet to bring back your youth? Not quite, but it can go a long way to improving life quality and help hold back the aging process. However, testosterone replacement alone shouldn’t be the only factor to consider if you are really interested in achieving optimal health and preventing the diseases of aging. Other lifestyle factors are critical and should also be evaluated. A healthy diet, appropriate physical activity, a social support network are fundamental to overall good health.
Guy Francis, D.O., practices integrative medicine, focusing on men’s wellness and anti-aging at Living Well Dallas Health and Wellness Center, in Dallas. For more information call 214-930-0260 or email [email protected]