Feeling irritable, impatient or hostile lately? Can’t process new information at work as quickly as you used to? How about feelings of frustration or depression? These are just a few of the symptoms that men may experience when going through Andropause—what has been described as male menopause. Andropause occurs due to a decrease in men’s testosterone, or T-levels. Andropause typically occurs in men between the ages of 40 and 60; however, testosterone levels begin to drop much earlier in the typical male.
Dr. Frank Russo, with a background in anesthesiology and internal medicine, is one of the lead physicians at the Men’s Wellness Centers in Boca Raton, Florida. He states that by the age of 30, all men begin to experience a decrease in testosterone levels, at the rate of one to two percent per year. Over the past two decades, however, incidents of men losing testosterone at even younger ages have increased. In today’s fast-paced world, some of this can be attributed to high levels of cortisol present in the bloodstream of men across the age spectrum. Russo states there are certain risk factors that can prematurely cause reduction in levels of testosterone: stress; obesity; taking multiple medications; hypertension; alcohol consumption; certain medications, such as prednisone or other steroids; and use of narcotics, often prescribed to manage chronic pain.
Fortunately, a decrease in T-levels can be easily verified through a blood test. If hormone levels are low, testosterone replacement therapy is a viable option that can lead to an improved quality of life. Replacement therapy comes in three forms: injection, topical gels or T-pellets. Injections are considered the “gold standard” of the three, as they are longer lasting. Injections into the gluteal muscle are given every week or two weeks, depending on the person and the dosage. T-pellets can be self-administered, although physicians generally prefer patients come in on a regular basis to receive the injections.
T-pellets are small pellets a urologist places in the gluteal muscle. Usually between seven and 10 pellets are placed at a time. The downside to this particular type of treatment is that the T-pellets are not time-released, which means testosterone levels will typically be highest when first placed and can decrease quickly thereafter.
Finally, topical gels or ointments are easy to administer by the patient, thus requiring fewer visits to the doctor. However, not only is this the most expensive of the three treatments, topicals must be used daily. A full 40 percent of men using this type of treatment don’t absorb enough of the hormone well enough to achieve and maintain consistent testosterone levels in the bloodstream.
If you are feeling irritable, not crushing it at the gym during your afternoon workouts or experiencing a decrease in your libido—no matter what your age—talk to your doctor about your testosterone levels. A simple test can determine if hormones are part of the problem and can help your doctor find the right treatment to raise your testosterone levels.
Symptoms to Look Out For:
- Decreased libido
- Decrease in morning erections
- Less frequent erections
- Inability to maintain erections
- Lack of energy and chronic fatigue
- Interrupted sleep
- Less endurance while exercising
- Decrease in muscle mass
- Increased waist circumference
- Decreased enjoyment of life