Male Menopause – Body Changes in Male Menopause

Although most people know that Menopause has generated a large population of women who have excessive rates of bone fracture and CHD, men also suffer from these conditions. The male menopause or Andropause is due to hypogonadism – low testosterone levels.

Andropause, the word, appeared in the literature in 1952 and is defined at the “natural cessation of the sexual function in older men.” Andropause also refers to sexual regression in men over 40 due to dropping male hormone levels.

Endocrinologically, the difference between the hypogonadal man and the post-menopausal hypogonadal woman is not very great. Neither has adequate levels of androgens or estrogens and they both can be expected to show similar tendencies; i.e., hypogonadal men also tend to have frequent MI’s and bone fractures from osteoporosis.

There is current evidence of a protective effect of testosterone against both heart attacks and bone fractures.

Changes

The loss of sexual drive is one of the first changes most people notice with aging. This decreased libido and failure to awaken with erections is the foreboding of the impotence experienced by hypogonadal men.

Women too experience a lessening of their desire but usually this does not occur until their testosterone levels drop below normal if they have their ovaries removed. Unfortunately, in men, impotence tends to be accompanied in most not by frustrated sexual urges or complaints of frustration but rather by passivity according to Dr. Conrad Swartz.

More than half of the healthy men over age 70 whom he surveyed showed morning serum testosterone levels at or below 300 ng/dl, the customary threshold of hypogonadism. At this level men do not have erections in their sleep or in the early mornings. Passivity in men soon leads to lack of interest in business, sex, sports or visual sexual stimulation.

Testosterone

Testosterone is the principal androgen of which 95% is made by the testes (testicles or sperm producers), 5% in the adrenals of both sexes and 1% by female ovaries. Testosterone is synthesized from cholesterol at approximately 6 mg/day, metabolized by the liver, and excreted in the urine.

Testosterone can be bioconverted into two other steroids at target tissues throughout the body: This conversion essentially regulates all T activity since the levels of these steroids can modify the rate of conversion.

DHT

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) – binds more readily to androgen receptors than Testosterone. Conversion is noted at prostate, seminal vesicles (testicles), pubic skin, scrotal skin, axillae (or armpits), gingival tissues (gums in the mouth). In addition, to a slight degree in any area of the skin with preferential absorption on the back, biceps, ribs and thighs in both men and women.

DHT is 4x more potent than testosterone as an anabolic agent (increases muscle tissue). This conversion of T to DHT increases the action of testosterone. Testosterone has both an anabolic and androgenic (male sex organs) effect.

Estradiol

Estradiol- a Biestrogen, (there are three estrogens acting on both females and males {E1, Estrone; E2, estradiol; E3, Estriol}) 25% are made by the testes, 75% are bioconverted in liver and the brain from testosterone. This conversion of T to E2 is the primary cause of male aggression (crankiness), breast enlargement and loss of sexual drive.

Certain hormone levels will increase this effect and some hormones can decrease it.

Low hormone levels of testosterone in men, have negative influences on both mood and mental abilities, including decline of memory, and loss of youthful sexual functioning. Studies have shown that the sexual aging process results in organic impotence, erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory and urinary problems, decreased sexual drive or libido and deterioration of the general physique.

Testosterone is the hormone, which regulates the structure of all body proteins and insures the development and integrity of the genitals (penis and testicles) in males. The adult testicles normally produce about 7-10 mg of testosterone daily. A deficiency causes only modest changes initially such as an increase in weight (beer belly), progressive aging of the face, muscular weakening and weakening of bone tissue or osteoporosis.

Lowered testosterone secretion causes low functioning of many body organs resulting in the eventual failing of memory, sexual drive and resulting irritability associated with general fatigue and higher estrogen levels in men. The development of clogged arteries, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, the increase in abdominal fat, the atrophy of the skin, high blood pressure and increased cholesterol are aging associated changes of males that are reversible with testosterone supplementation.

Leydig cell function is impaired in healthy elderly men as a result of primary testicular insufficiency. Further studies reveal the presence of an additional hypothalamic-pituitary disorder of gonadotropin secretion associated with the aging process. The reason for this pituitary malfunction is not yet known.