Do aging men go through “manopause” similar to what women have with menopause?
Fewer spontaneous erections, more naps, and a belly that’s threatening to hang over the belt line…Yes, men experience physical and psychological changes in midlife that can in some ways mirror the menopause that women go through.
The proper term, “andropause”, from the Greek word andro (male) and pausis (stop) involves the gradual process of slowing down as hormone levels diminish or change in noticeable ways by middle age.
Testosterone and DHEA
As hormones (known as androgens) necessary for strength, vitality, health and well being taper off, a subtle, downward shift in energy level and virility is felt.
Testosterone: Considered the most potent of all androgens and the foundation for male characteristics, testosterone is created in the testes and responsible for facial hair, the deepening of the voice, muscle mass and bone density, sexual function, stamina and competitive drive in males.
DHEA: (dehydroepiandrosterone) produced in the adrenal glands builds protein and helps with immune function in the body. It is also considered a precursor to other hormones like testosterone and estrogen, meaning that it can be converted to these hormones if levels in the blood are insufficient. The hormones cortisol and DHEA balance each other to maintain the immune system as well.
There are several reasons that the natural aging process may cause the overproduction or reduction of certain hormones in the male body. One of the important reasons involves the enzyme, aromatase. This essentially converts testosterone to estrogen in the male body, causing free testosterone levels to decline, as estrogen rises.
Other factors include:
Increase in belly fat (which increases aromatase activity)
Damage to tissues that are responsible for testosterone production
Reduction in the synthesis of testicular testosterone
Lower levels of precursors, such as DHEA
Changes in liver function and status of nutrition
Some men explore hormone replacement therapy in response to difficult symptoms that negatively impact their life.