Andropause, the climacteric man

March 4, 2012 23:30 0 comments

In a particularly male-dominated and conventional society, accepting male menopause is not easy. Caused by a drop in testosterone, it affects men’s physical, emotional and sexual lives.


Carmen Fernández Sánchez


Until recently, andropause was an unknown word. Nowadays, it is still largely unknown to most of society, even to those who suffer from it.

Although there are people who believe it is not an appropriate term, the word andropause is used to describe a man’s ageing process. It attempts to define a drop in testosterone along with a series of symptoms similar to those experienced by women during menopause.

The main difference is that when a woman reaches menopause her reproductive system shuts down and she is no longer able to conceive. Men however, retain their reproductive abilities throughout andropause.

Unlike menopause, the word andropause is not recognised by the World Health Organisation.

However, in 1944, two American doctors, Carl Heller and Gordon Myers, had already written an article about andropause and its symptoms. The article described “the climacteric man”, who was affected by hormonal changes influencing his physical, emotional and sexual life. Symptoms were varied, ranging from purely physical to psychological. Each individual is affected in different ways, and as a result it is difficult to detect.

While women stop having periods, the signs of the change in men are not so clear. Although some of them are far more common or obvious, and even more acute.

These signs can include: irritability, feeling the need to cry, insomnia, fatigue, reduced sexual virility, reduced strength and volume of ejaculation, sweat, constipation, pain, bone deterioration, dry hair and skin, blood flow problems, depression and memory loss.

The reasons

But, why does this happen? The answer is simple. Testosterone levels in men start to drop from the age of 30, while the levels of SHGB (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin) start to increase. The function of SHGB is to trap most of the testosterone and that way, it is prevented from carrying out its function in the body’s tissues. All men suffer drops in their testosterone levels and approximately 30 percent of men over 50 are more likely to suffer steep drops.

There is currently no way of predicting who will develop andropause, nor at what age the symptoms will begin to show. Although in most cases they usually start between the ages of 40 and 50.

A simple blood test to check the levels of testosterone is all that is needed to detect andropause.

If the person shows signs of suffering andropause, it is possible to start a hormone replacement therapy, in the same way women suffering menopause can do.

Hormones are administered by means of injections, patches, gels and creams; and this is always done under the supervision of a specialist.

There is information about andropause available, and some publications are more specific than others. A good example is the book “The andropause mystery: unravelling truths about the male menopause” by physician Robert S. Tan, a specialist and pioneer in hormone replacement and its effects on the brain.

After thorough research on the subject, Robert S. Tan shares his analysis of the physical changes and psychological problems affecting men during this stage of their lives.

The truth is, in a particularly male-dominated and conventional society, accepting male menopause is not easy, it is far more difficult to assimilate it. Men in general deny the fact that they could ever go through their own menopause.

Because of this, there are support groups dedicated to help men comfortably face andropause, as well as associations such as Andropause Society, established in London in 2000.

It is a non-profit organisation which aims to study the drop of testosterone levels and its impact on men’s health and daily lives, as well as helping people go through it. Membership is free and is open to men and women.

There are a number of other groups all over the world like the Andropause Society. The important issue is to accept the existence of andropause, and to show understanding towards men going through it just as we already do for women.

(Translated BY David Buchanan (Google Docs) – Email: davidbv84@gmail.com)

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