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Digging into “Manopause”: Age-related Changes in a Man's Hormones

Digging into “Manopause”: Age-related Changes in a Man's Hormones

Hormone changes are a natural part of aging. Unlike the more dramatic reproductive hormone plunge that happens when a woman’s ovaries stop releasing eggs, hormone changes in men are more gradual and can occur in middle-aged or senior-aged men.

The term “male menopause” is a little deceiving since it suggests a direct comparison to female menopause. This isn’t the case. “Male menopause” is not actually menopause, but refers to a gradual decline of testosterone that affects some men—but not all. A more accurate term for male menopause would be age-related low testosterone or late-onset hypogonadism. More about the symptoms and solutions are below.

What causes low testosterone levels?

A man’s testosterone levels decrease on average about 1% each year after age 30. However, most older men still have testosterone levels within the normal range, with only an estimated 10% to 25% having levels considered to be below.

Age is just one factor that decreases testosterone. Lifestyle is another big piece of the puzzle: much you sleep, what you weigh, how stressed you allow yourself to get.

Research shows that after just one week of poor sleep, a man’s levels can drop by 15%! Another broad study found that when men reeled in their diets and exercised regularly to lose 15% body weight, their testosterone levels soared. And anxiety? Anxiety ramps up your cortisol levels (a hormone that plays a role in regulating blood pressure, metabolism, and the nervous system) and robs your body’s supply of other hormones that would be used to make testosterone. In other words, less stress encourages more testosterone.

What are the symptoms of low testosterone?

Important to note: The symptoms associated with low testosterone aren’t specific to low testosterone. They can also be caused by a person’s age, medication use, and existing health conditions.

Still, it’s worth visiting a healthcare provider if the following symptoms affect your quality of life:

  • Increased fatigue
  • Decreased muscle mass and strength
  • Reduced libido and inability to reach orgasm
  • Infertility
  • Depression or poor concentration
  • Height loss, low trauma fracture, or low bone mineral density
  • Hot flushes or sweats
  • Breast discomfort or swelling
  • Mild or unexplained anemia

How do men restore healthy hormone levels?

The first stop for middle- or senior-age men is to visit a primary care provider for a check-up.

A blood test can measure testosterone levels and rule out any other underlying conditions such as nutrient deficiencies. If testosterone levels are low, your provider will likely recommend changes to your diet or exercise routine designed to preserve muscle mass and improve energy and mood.

Reducing stress, weight loss, daily activity, and better sleep have all been shown to significantly improve testosterone levels. Since Ogden Clinic is a multispecialty practice, our clinicians have access to in-house professionals that can help with specific needs, including medical weight loss providers and sleep specialists.

If testosterone therapy is indicated, your doctor will explain the different ways testosterone can be administered, target levels, and follow-up testing.

For some men, testosterone therapy relieves bothersome signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency. For others, the benefits aren’t clear and there are possible risks including blood clots, heart attack, or stroke in some patients.

Your doctor will likely recommend against starting testosterone therapy if you have conditions such as breast or prostate cancer, untreated severe obstructive sleep apnea, uncontrolled heart failure or thrombophilia, or if you’ve recently had a heart attack or stroke.

If any of the symptoms above affect your quality of life, schedule a physical with one of our family medicine providers to discuss your signs and symptoms, testing, and possible treatment options. Your provider can help you weigh the pros and cons of treatment.