Even though only women have been known to suffer menopause when they attain a particular age, Oladapo Ashiru, here, tells us how even men experience it too.
File photo: An old man
Andropause, also known as male menopause, is due to changes in the hormonal levels in men, which progressively decline with age. It is also characterised by the loss of testosterone, the hormone that makes men act like masculine.
Most men’s testosterone levels drop as they age – by about 10 per cent every 10 years.
However, some men are affected more than others are. The rate of decline varies from individual to individual. The loss of testosterone, which can happen to men as young as 35, is gradual with its levels dropping by one to 1.55 annually starting at about age 30.
At the same time, another hormone in the body called Sex Binding Hormone Globulin or SBHG traps much of the testosterone that is still circulating around the system and makes it unavailable to the body’s tissues to make them function properly.
Every man experiences a decline of bioavailable testosterone, but some men’s levels dip lower than others. It is estimated that 30 per cent of men in their 50s will have testosterone levels low enough to cause andropause symptoms.
Testosterone is one of the hormones forming the androgen panel or make hormones. According to the World Health Organisation, total androgen levels, not just testosterones, also affect male andropause as these hormones decline as men age.
A WHO study found that androgen levels of men aged 70 were only 10 per cent of that of men of 25 years. For this reason, some have described andropause as ADAM (Androgen Deficiency of the Aging Male).
Unlike women, men do not have a clear-cut signpost such as the stopping of menstruation to tell them they are in andropause. Instead, it comes as a gradual and distressful decline in their sexuality as well as overall energy with increasing moodiness. By the time most men are 40 and 45 or middle-aged, they have experienced some symptoms of andropause, which range from energy loss to depression to sexual dysfunction.
The bodily changes occur gradually in men and may be accompanied by changes in attitudes, moods, fatigue and a loss of energy, sex drive, and physical agility. Muscle mass and bone density decreases, and, just like women, men are prone to broken bones and osteoporosis.
Although Andropause is a normal part of ageing, that does not mean men should accept it as an inevitable fate. If left untreated, it can have severe medical consequences that go beyond the loss of libido. For starters, it can lead to osteoporosis and broken bones.
Testosterone is a hormone that is not only essential for normal sexual behaviour and for producing erections, but it also has many functions in a man’s body. It helps to build protein and it affects many metabolic activities such as the production of blood cells in the bone marrows, bone function, lipid metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, liver function and prostate gland growth.
If testosterone levels are not adequately replaced, then many body functions may be adversely affected, leading to premature ageing and an unhealthy old age.
There is a need for all andropause sufferers to undergo a complete medical examination that includes laboratory tests and measurement of the male hormone panel to indicate the level of testosterone replacement that is needed. The principal hormones that would be tested are testosterone, thyroid, dihydroepiandrosterone and growth hormone.
Treatment will include a combination of testosterone replacement therapy, psychotherapy, herbs, diet and exercise, reduction in the intake of grapefruit, alcohol and fats since, according to Dr Stephen Suiatra, a cardiologist specialising in medicine, and author of “Heartbreak and Heart Disease”, the body’s aromatase enzyme turns testosterone into the female hormone oestrogen when certain substances like grapefruit, alcohol, and fat are ingested.
These catalysts – grapefruit, alcohol, and fat – turn on the aromatase enzyme, which decreases the testosterone level. On the other hand, to help in increasing testosterone production, Suiatra, who heads the New England Heart and Longevity Center in Manchester, suggests that taking zinc, vitamin E and such herbs as muirapuama, an L-arginine, helped to increase libido.
In the first line of treatment, multivitamins and vitamins A, B, C and E may be prescribed as well as 1000mg of calcium tablets a day to guard against osteoporosis. The calcium should, however, be taken with plenty of water to prevent kidney stones.
The best form of calcium supplements are the liquid effervescence tablets or the capsules. Exercise with a diet low in fat along with adequate sleep of at least eight hours a night will certainly be part of the doctor’s prescription as well as herbs containing plasma and maca.
The gold standard in andropause management used to be testosterone replacement therapy if was indicated by the results of the androgen panel test. The best form of testosterone replacement is through the skin using the bioidentical hormones. They bypass the liver and therefore are not able to create any toxic action on the liver as compared to the oral replacement. This will be administered by one of the several methods that include injection, patches, gel or tablets.
Experienced doctors knowledgeable in this type of treatment must perform these replacement therapy treatments as inappropriately balanced prostatic antigen (PSA) levels can increase the risk of prostatic cancer.
Other risks associated with hormone supplementation, particularly with injections, include the risk of stroke, increase in liver toxicity and breast development not to mention the ironic shut down of sperm production that can result from testosterone supplementation.
The recent increase in prostatic cancer has made many men to shy away from the use of testosterone replacement therapy. This has now been replaced by a combination of protocols necessary to help in restoring good health and then re-energising the body system to achieve the desired goal of feeling youthful with increase vigour, vitality and erectile energy.
Such protocol will include the initial assessment of the health status, food intolerance, and other system disturbance. This is followed by the blood analysis of the various hormonal panels and cardiac panels. The individual is now made to go through a customised individual body cleansing and detoxification which will improve the efficiency of the alimentary system and restore more energy.
The protocol will include the use of additional equipment to improve the circulation to the reproductive organ such as the Physiotherm, Hypoxicator (used in getting rid of aging mitochondrial cells) and the scenar in addition to regular exercise. Once this is done the individual is given a number of orthomolecular supplements such as the bioidentical hormone replacement and herbal cream and capsules as well as vitamins.
The most individual may be able to report a much improved erectile activity following such protocols in Mayr spas.
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Written by Oladapo Ashiru
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