Have You Ever Heard of Andropause?
By Jyoti Pachisia
As men age, the male hormone, testosterone declines, and their libido decreases. This may make it difficult for some men to get or keep an erection during intercourse. Like menopausal women, men with age too experience symptoms such as reduced muscle mass and strength, increased body fat, reduced bone density, fatigue, hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, anxiety, depression, short-term memory, and concentration.
“Male menopause” is a term frequently used to describe the decline in testosterone levels that occurs in men as they age. The changes during this happen along with it. Apart from male menopause, terms such as “andropause” and “male climacteric” are also being used elsewhere. The talk about this concept of a male equivalent of menopause began within the medical community from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s and later gained attention everywhere.
While testosterone levels fall with age, a few studies show that there are a few physical as well as psychological changes. However, studies are still being carried out to check whether decreased levels of testosterone have a direct relationship with biological changes and lifestyle or not. Many academicians and researchers are of view that we cannot call Andropause as male menopause, as unlike women, men do not face any biological changes.
Hormonal Changes in Men vs Women
When we look at or talk about menopause and its potential counterpart in men, it is important that we view it from the perspective of the hormonal changes that happen in midlife. While women face a drastic change in their lifestyle after menopause, men do not counter such changes.
The testosterone levels in men decline gradually over time as compared to the sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone levels experienced by menopausal women. After the age of 40, testosterone levels tend to decrease approximately by 1% per year.
Men can reproduce even with low testosterone levels. While women's childbearing potential declines to zero after menopause.
Lastly, menopause is a universal event for all women that marks the end of their reproductive years. Only 10–25% of older men have testosterone levels that are considered low, while the majority of them have levels within the normal range. Hence, the concept of a male equivalent of menopause does not hold significantly because not all men will experience testosterone deficiency.
Low Testosterone in Ageing Men
Low testosterone, or hypogonadism, is a medical condition that can lead to symptoms similar to those experienced during menopause. It occurs when the testes aren’t able to produce sufficient hormones. Lifestyle or psychological factors are sometimes believed to be the cause, but it is always recommended to conduct tests for low testosterone when men exhibit symptoms such as lack of sexual drive and erectile dysfunction, depression, fatigue, or problems with memory and concentration.
Impact of Andropause on Mental Performance
Declining testosterone levels during andropause affect cognitive skills, as testosterone plays a vital role in brain health, including memory, focus, and mental clarity. As testosterone decreases, men experience brain fog, difficulty concentrating, decreased mood levels, and a decline in overall cognitive performance. Even more, the potential insulin resistance associated with andropause can exacerbate these symptoms, as insulin plays a very crucial role in brain function and glucose metabolism, with glucose being the favorite fuel source for brain cells.
Role of nutrition during andropause
Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle is very important for men over the age of 40. A well-balanced diet will help them perform better in their professional as well as personal lives during andropause.
Here are some dietary guidelines that you can follow to stay fit and healthy.
1.Emphasise on antioxidant-rich foods
Including a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet (the ideal is to aim for 30 different vegetables, fruits, and herbs per week!) helps to combat oxidative stress and inflammation, one reason that can contribute to cognitive decline. Berries, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables are particularly beneficial for brain health. Fiber in vegetables is also crucial to regulating fluctuating blood glucose levels.
2.Consume omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish (such as salmon and sardines), walnuts, and flaxseeds, help to improve cognitive function and skills. Incorporating these foods into the diet helps to support brain health.
3.Manage blood sugar levels
Consuming a balanced diet with complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent insulin shoot-ups. It also helps manage abdominal fat accumulation, which has negative impact on testosterone production.
4.Herbs and nutrients that can help
Certain herbs and isolated nutrients support testosterone production and help cope with stress and hormonal balance. Below are some of the most researched ones:
An adequate level of Vitamin D is essential to maintain overall health and regulation of hormone. Make sure you walk or jog in the morning to get enough sun exposure. Intake of fatty fish, mushrooms, and supplements can be good sources to maintain an optimal Vitamin D.
Zinc is a micromineral involved in testosterone synthesis while maintaining reproductive health. Zinc supplementation helps to increase testosterone levels and improve symptoms of andropause. Oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, and legumes are optimum dietary sources of zinc.
Ashwagandha is Indian herb known for its stress-reducing properties in various ways. It helps to alleviate symptoms of andropause, such as anxiety, fatigue, and reduced libido.
Managing andropause involves comprehensive approaches, which include personalized nutrition, lifestyle modifications, and potential supplementation. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional or registered nutritional therapist for personalized advice and supplement recommendations depending on specific needs. With a positive holistic approach, you can navigate andropause while maintaining optimal cognitive function and quality of life.