Thursday, October 16, 2014

What is Andropause?

Andropause is in many ways simply male-menopause and often referred to as “manopause.” In short, the condition can be explained very easily as it exists simply on the basis of declining androgen production within the body, most notably testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone and to a degree the increase in Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG); direct androgen production is however the primary concern. While menopause and Andropause share some strong similarities there is one very distinctive difference that must be noted. When a woman goes through menopause the onset of the condition is almost instant, the drop or decline in adequate hormonal production is very quick and can become quite bothersome almost overnight. Andropause is however in most cases a little different. Andropause is something that will typically not manifest itself in such a quick and dramatic fashion but rather hormonal decline is slow and steady over a period of many years. How fast the decline will vary from one man to the next and often quite significantly but generally speeding up each and every year as the man ages.

While several varying androgens can be affected testosterone is generally the most important one and the one that will have the greatest negative effect when in decline. You’ve probably already seen the commercials on T.V. talking about low testosterone often referring to it as “Low-T” and in medical practice such a condition is most commonly referred to as hypogonadism. Generally speaking, hypogonadism and Andropause refer to the same thing with Andropause encompassing the total androgen production as a whole, with hypogonadism generally referring only to the androgen testosterone. In any case there are six androgens worthy of note, Androstenediol, Androstenedione (Andro), Androsterone, Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and Testosterone; testosterone being the primary for which all exist and the only one of high particular importance. 

The effects of Andropause while generally not life-threatening can be beyond bothersome and can in-fact be gateway that opens the door to more serious conditions later down the line that are indeed life-threatening. In short, men who suffer from Andropause will notice their quality of life in a constant state of decline and as this decline is brought about slowly by the time it has really become a problem many men have become accustomed to it. Often such conditions are simply attributed to age and as hormonal decline is a part of age, on its surface this assumption is not without some level of truth. However, if age were the only factor all men would experience Andropause to a similar degree but this is not the case; many men never experience the symptoms to a large degree and in that light things such as genetics or predisposition and lifestyle choices necessarily come into play.

How great of an effect can Andropause have on your quality of life? The condition has the potential to affect sexual function, your appearance, your physical and mental well-being to a far reaching degree with the most common symptoms including:

    Decline or Total Loss of Libido
    Erectile Dysfunction
    Loss of Strength
    Loss of Muscle Tissue & Mass
    Increased Body-Fat
    Lack of Energy
    Lack of Focus
    Weakened Immune System

Your testosterone levels are going to decline as you age, in this there is no escape and as it declines, in many cases other androgen's will follow. However, the lifestyle choices you make can play a factor and you can make adjustments to your life to aid in staving off the condition but understand when Andropause is a reality there is generally no turning back; you will require therapy and you will require it for the remainder of your life. As low testosterone is the primary concern the individual will necessarily do all he can to aid in maintaining proper levels and by and large it is our physical condition and stress levels that dictate this to the greatest degree. Maintaining a healthy body weight or more specifically a healthy body-fat to muscle mass ratio will be your primary tool in staving off Andropause. Your physical condition is of the utmost importance and as a healthy diet rich in healthy fats, especially of the Omega-Fatty Acid nature as well as regular physical activity have all be linked to promoting testosterone production, these are factors that must be considered.

Further, stress as eluded to can play a big role and it can come in many forms. The presence of stress in our life often brings with it the presence of glucocorticoid steroids in abundance and such hormones destroy muscle tissue and promote body-fat as well as leave us generally sluggish. Such stress can be caused by our simple daily lives through work and home, this is true but factors such as lack of rest, improper diet that does not promote adequate physical recovery, over training in the gym or in any activity can all lead to an abundant release of these muscle destroying and fat promoting hormones and ultimately lead to Andropause. When Andropause is determined you will find there is only one true treatment but because such a treatment is built around a very emotional topic many doctors will avoid it until all other options have been tried. Let’s be clear, if you suffer from Andropause there is only one solution, at this stage in the game while improving your lifestyle choices will aid you in the long run they will not provide a solid solution, rather they should be in addition to the therapy you need. To treat Andropause you will need to be placed on a Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) plan, then and only then will you see your condition improved and this improvement will work almost every single time. It is true, there is no permanent cure for Andropause for example, once an individual suffers from low testosterone he will always need Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) generally with one exception. Some performance enhancing athletes fall prey to low testosterone at a young age; once steroid use has been discontinued and laid aside they no longer have the ability to naturally produce the hormones they need; generally this is due to abuse of the hormones; many athletes who use responsibly never have a problem. In such cases an HRT plan that generally includes testosterone, in-fact a simple TRT plan may be all that is needed can lead to eliminating the problem. At the same time it may not and this individual may too find himself on HRT for the remainder of his life.

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