Andropause: Sex Discrimination Against Men over 50?
These are all terms associated with the decline of male libido, sexual function, and reproductive abilities that take place later in men’s lives. However, unlike female menopause, this condition, which presents itself in most aging males over 50 (and some earlier), has no clinical name and is unrecognized by the World Health Organization.
It’s time for that to change.
“Male Menopause” carries the title of Andropause because proponents of the condition’s existence need to label what they see as a distinct condition identified by biological change experienced in men during mid-life.
Approximately 25 million American males aged between 40 and 55 years are currently experiencing the symptoms of andropause.
This change relates to the slow but steady reduction of the production of the hormones testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone in middle-aged men, and the consequences of that reduction.
Andropause’s most distinct differentiation from menopause is its duration, taking place in men over many years, as opposed to menopause, which is usually a very sudden cessation in women’s reproductive capabilities.
Both conditions, however, are very similarly represented by changes in male and female hormone levels and outward changes in physical appearance, mood, and personality. The two conditions are much more similar than they are different.
For men, andropause can present many life changes and challenges. This includes the following:
- Loss of lean muscle mass
- Decrease in mental focus
- Reduced libido
- Decreased motivation levels
- Decreased energy levels
- Increased body fat levels
- Erectile dysfunction
- Mood swings
Andropause historically is an under diagnosed and under treated health condition. Although improvements in understanding and managing this condition continue, much more needs to be done.
Unfortunately, many doctors are not comfortable making the diagnosis of andropause in men or in treating andropause. It’s believed this is because many physicians may not have specific training in diagnosis and treating the condition. Some doctors may not be familiar with testing hormones related to testosterone that may be imbalanced, either for diagnosing andropause or for monitoring the treatment. Some even reject the notion of andropause as a condition and don’t recognize it.
Simple blood tests help diagnose andropause. Treatment is carried out through Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). The most common, testosterone treatment, would be a gel or cream applied on the skin, or by injection in the muscle.
Depending upon associated hormone imbalances other than testosterone itself, the treatment might be another hormone or hormone blocker. For example, if a pituitary gland hormone is low, sometimes treatment with a signal hormone may increase testosterone levels. Sometimes a specific cause for Andropause is found—when that cause is treated, the Andropause may resolve.
It’s time for the medical community and specifically the World Health Organization to fully recognize andropause as a serious physical and mental health threat to men over 50, to research its causes and solutions more fully, and to train medical care providers on recognizing and treating it.
Does the World Health Organization’s refusal to recognize andropause represent sex discrimination against men over 50?