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Issue 96: MAN-o-Pause

Male menopause or andropause, known clinically as late-onset hypogonadism, refers to a drop in testosterone levels and other accompanying symptoms which can occur as men age. It’s not as common as menopause, but for those who are experiencing it, the effects can be significant and life-altering.

Andropause can occur in men between the ages of 45 and 60, but sometimes can happen to men in their early 30s—since circulating testosterone levels decrease by about 1% per year in men after age 30. Generally speaking, by the time a man is 55, the amount of testosterone in the bloodstream is significantly lower than when he was 45. By age 80, most male hormone levels drop to pre-puberty levels.

It doesn’t affect all men, either—at least not with the same intensity. It’s estimated that 40% of men between the ages of 40 and 60 will experience some amount of lethargy, depressed mood or mood instability, increased irritability, hot flushes (yes…hot flushes), night sweats, insomnia, weakness, loss of lean body mass and bone mass, and decreased sex drive.

A study in The New England Journal of Medicine looked more closely at andropause and noted some common characteristics. Researchers found that men with male menopause—only about 2.1% of those in the study--had difficulty engaging in vigorous physical activity, were unable to walk one kilometer (about .62 miles—a little over half a mile), and were unable to bend or stoop. They also had low energy, felt sad and fatigued—among other things, including some who had decreased testosterone levels.

Another study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice reported that andropause was highly prevalent, and that we could expect those numbers to continue to increase due to men living longer. Interestingly, this study also reported an association between male menopause and other anomalies, including weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, bone and metabolic unhealth.

Although there’s still much to learn about andropause, some factors can contribute to its onset, including excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy weight, smoking, unhealthy blood pressure levels, prescription and over-the-counter medication usage, poor diet, lack of exercise and poor circulation.

Some suggested ways for men to support their health during this stage of life include: eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, regular sleep, drinking plenty of water and limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, stress relief and building strong, healthy relationships and communication pathways.

Since andropause doesn’t usually happen as quickly or as drastically as menopause does, it can often be overlooked or ignored. It’s real, though, and quite common. It becomes even more important to take care of yourself during this time--because you deserve it. 


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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