For women, menopause is a big deal. It sets the boundaries between the reproductive years and the end of reproduction. It makes sense that there is considerably more awareness for female menopause whereas male menopause is still cowering in the shadows of the bigger sister. Most men don’t have any idea that they experience male menopause, or even what that means. Let’s break down the details.
Male Menopause Explained?
Male menopause is referred to as andropause. Andropause can be described as the age-related hormonal changes in men. The male body undergoes various hormonal changes during the man’s lifetime. When men get into puberty, their bodies experience an abrupt surge of hormones. These hormones are responsible for the various changes experienced by boys during puberty. Key among the hormones is testosterone. Testosterone is responsible for the male sexual drive. It is also the hormone that leads to muscle growth, voice breaking and growth of body hair. (1)
According to the Mayo Clinic, men start experiencing the reduction of testosterone levels from the age of thirty, at the rate of 1% per year. (2)
The main terms used for male menopause include androgen deficiency, testosterone deficiency or late-onset hypogonadism.
While all men are subject to testosterone level drop, not all men will experience andropause. Male menopause mainly entails a drop in testosterone levels in men above 50 years of age. The reduction of testosterone may lead to various social and health complications for the specific male. The side effects resulting from male menopause are both physical, psychological and sexual. However, unlike women, men can still reproduce during andropause. (3)
There are various symptoms related to andropause. The symptoms increase as the man gets older. Although some of these symptoms may be triggered by other ailments. For instance, the treatment administered for prostate cancer may lead to a considerable drop in testosterone levels. Most men who are on cancer treatment may also experience andropause symptoms. (4)
Symptoms may include:
- reduced body energy
- falling into depression and sadness
- reduced self-confidence
- lack of concentration
- drastic increase in body fat
- visible decrease in muscles
- feelings of body weakness
- decrease in bone density
- development of breasts (called gynecomastia)
- decreased testicle size
- loss of body hair
- hot flashes
Hot Flashes In Men
For women, it is almost a guarantee that they will experience hot flashes during menopause. On the other hand, men don’t even think about the possibility. The reality is that men can also experience hot flashes. The occurrence of hot flashes in men is actually similar to what happens to women. They both experience similar symptoms and suffer equal physical and emotional damage. While it is true that men may also experience hot flashes during andropause, the number of men who go through this ordeal is limited. Not all men who go through male menopause will experience hot flashes. Furthermore, not all men will undergo male menopause.
How Do Hot Flashes Feel
- Hot flashes generate the same feeling in both men and women. They are likely to occur during menopause and andropause. In men, the principal cause of hot flashes is a reduction in testosterone. Hot flashes do not present a good feeling.
- The first sign is the reddening of the skin. Some people may experience redness on the entire body while others only experience on some parts.
- This is followed by sweating. The sweating may be light or heavy depending on individuals
- Increased heart beating ensues and the patient is likely to feel or hear his heartbeat
- The man could also experience panic and irritation.
Symptoms of the Male Hot-flash
Men experience a feeling of warm flashing that is usually intense over the head. The warm flashing is usually accompanied by sweating and visible redness on the skin. The flashing may last up to 30 minutes but in most cases, it is an average of 4 minutes. Some individuals may experience up to six flashes per day. However, the flashing experiences are mostly at night. According to Harvard Health (2018), men who suffer from temporary androgen deprivation due to factors such as medication recover from flashing in 3 to 4 months. However, those who are subject to permanent androgen deprivation may experience flashes for up to 8 years. The publication also sites that 72% of men experience sleep problems due to hot flashes while another 59% of men experience irritability. (5)
Treatment of Hot Flashes
There is hope for men who experience hot flashes thanks to various medical breakthroughs. Individuals who experience hot flashes may find relief through the administration of hormones. (5)
There are several constraints though. For example, men undergoing cancer treatment cannot take testosterone. However, they may find some relief in female hormones such as estrogen. A major breakthrough for the treatment of male hot flashes lies in antidepressants.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been effective in reducing the occurrence and symptoms of hot flashes. Bottom line – both men and women are subject to menopause. The differences are that fewer men are likely to experience this stage. Menopause in men is accompanied by many health issues such as hot flashes and insomnia.
The good news is that hot flashes in men can be controlled. However, the effects of menopause in men keep on increasing as men advance in age. It is therefore very important for every male to be mentally prepared when it comes to the possibility of undergoing menopause.
1. Graham Rogers, MD, (2016) Health line, What Is Male Menopause, March 8, 2016, Retrieved From .https://goo.gl/XRXTZX
2. Mayo Clinic Publication (2017) Men Menopause: Myths Or Reality May 18, 2017, Retrieved from https://goo.gl/NM5LEJ
3. Snyder PJ. Overview of testosterone deficiency in older men March 2, 2017. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/3y1iJP
4. Cancer Research UK Publication(2010) Hot Flashes and Sweats In Men, Sept 26, 2016, Retrieved From https://goo.gl/1rPZhg
5. Harvard Health Publication (2014) Hot Flashes In Men Update Jan 16, 2018, Retrieved from https://goo.gl/GWL7Tg
Ready to create a path to empowered menopause?
Vergo is an interactive program that gives women the tools to understand their Menopause.
- The Vergo iOS symptom tracker (emailable to your healthcare provider)
- The Vergo QuikTrak symptom tracker (the refillable pdf version, also emailable)
- Vergo’s Interactive Education Program, Journey Without a Roadmap: Understanding Menopause
- Curated guides to the biggest questions and hottest topics around menopause symptoms and treatment options
- Must-have information on male menopause: There’s an Andropause? (an overview of what your guy could be going through)
- Terminology Cheat Sheets
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