While there’s much debate about the actual existence and implications of andropause, it’s widely considered to be an age-related form of hypogonadism. In other words, it’s used to describe lowering levels of testosterone as a man ages – or, more accurately, the reduced testosterone uptake within the body. In most cases, the testosterone is still there, but can’t be absorbed and used the same way it used to be. The effects of andropause become the most pronounced around age 60, but men as young as their late 40s may start noticing changes.
Andropause may be a misleading term, because men do not experience a cessation of fertility like women do during menopause. The only reproductive impact is in cases of sexual dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common, but very treatable aspect of andropause. While there’s no way to “cure” andropause, it is possible to reduce or delay the symptoms by encouraging the production and uptake of testosterone. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for men is one option, but there are a number of natural remedies that may offer effective relief.
Relief for andropause-related sexual dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is the best-known symptom of andropause, and potentially the most distressing. In a close second, libido often goes down or disappears altogether with age. Yohimbe supplements come highly recommended for erectile dysfunction, and work much faster than most herbal supplements. It’s reported to be an effective libido booster, and men who take yohimbe supplements report a surge of energy soon after taking the supplement. Gingko biloba may also be helpful since it may help boost circulation, which could help encourage longer-lasting, firmer erections.
If you really don’t want to take herbal supplements, there are some dietary remedies that may help. It may seem counter-intuitive, but naturally occurring phytoestrogens may alleviate the sexual symptoms of andropause. These can be found in fava beans, velvet beans and, to a lesser degree, soybeans.
Managing psychological andropause symptoms
Depression and irritability are common symptoms in andropause. These have given way to the stereotype of the crotchety old man, but your problem may not be a simple reduced tolerance for the aggravation of daily life. These can also be the result of reduced testosterone uptake. For herbal supplements, licorice or St. John’s Wort may be helpful. This is another area were yohimbe can be helpful as well.
Fatigue is another common symptom of andropause, though it’s unclear whether it’s a physical or psychological issue. Either way, you don’t have to just accept lower energy levels that get in the way of your everyday activities. Some of the aforementioned herbal remedies may help, especially if it’s depression-related fatigue, but the real trick is to stay active. Even if it’s just going on a weekend fishing trip or spending a half-hour lifting weights at the gym, do something out of the house that gets you moving. This can also help stave off a lot of the aches and pains that come with age, while reducing the risk of blood clot and other health problems. Small handcrafts such as leatherworking can help you retain fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, and may even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Andropause-related physical challenges
Most men equate getting old with hair loss, weight gain, and loss of bone mass. While there’s usually not a lot that can be done about hair loss, it is possible to keep the beer belly at bay and protect your bone mass while reducing aches and pains.
Your body burns fewer calories as you get older, so it’s vitally important that you update your dietary intake. If you still eat like you’re a 20-year-old jock, you’ll continue to gain weight and possibly suffer organ and joint problems as a result. Older men generally need fewer overall calories, less meat, and more raw fruits and vegetables than younger men. Make sure to get some extra calcium in there – osteoporosis is more of an issue with women, but it’s not exclusively a female issue.
Exercise is absolutely critical. Strength exercises will help you retain healthy bone density, while core workouts can reduce the risk of falls by improving your balance. Exercise that promotes flexibility can help you retain a good range of motion even in the face of encroaching arthritis. Any movement helps spread the synovial fluid that lubricates your joints, reducing joint pain and making it easier to move.
While it’s impossible to completely stop aging, it doesn’t have to stop you from doing all the things you love. A little management and a few preventative measures can significantly improve your chances of living an active, healthy and fulfilling life even as you advance in years.