You may have heard people refer to “male menopause” when talking about middle-aged men. It’s a way of comparing the midlife changes men go through to the changes women go through during menopause.
So, is male menopause real? Do men have hot flashes? Do they experience mood swings?
The answer is yes — and no. Read on for details about this common but confusing collection of symptoms.
What Is Male Menopause?
“Male menopause” is not a scientific term. Rather, it’s a phrase that people have begun using recently in everyday speech.
Male menopause refers to a cluster of symptoms that many (but not all) men experience in middle age. Some people think that these symptoms mimic those of menopausal women.
Hormone Changes: Men vs. Women
When women go through menopause, their bodies experience many changes in a short amount of time. Ovulation ends and hormone production drops rapidly.
Unlike women, men don’t experience a sudden drop in hormone production. Rather, starting in their thirties, men’s testosterone levels decrease slowly. The change in hormone levels is about 1% each year.
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Do Men Have Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes — a sudden sensation of body heat — are common in menopausal women. They occur when hormone levels drop rapidly in middle age.
Men typically do not get hot flashes, because their hormone levels drop gradually. The exception is men who undergo prostate cancer treatments. Those treatments quickly lower the amount of testosterone in the body and may result in hot flashes.
What Are Male Menopause Symptoms?
Gradually decreasing testosterone levels may cause symptoms of male menopause, including:
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Fat redistribution (i.e. developing a large belly).
- Hot flashes.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Loss of muscle mass.
- Low sex drive.
- Mood swings.
- Weight gain.
At What Age Do Symptoms Occur?
So-called male menopause symptoms begin in middle age, usually when a man is in his 40s and 50s. That’s the time when testosterone declines and other health problems typically set in.
There’s no specific timeline for how long male menopause symptoms last. But health problems such as heart disease and diabetes may prolong male menopause symptoms.
What Causes Male Menopause Symptoms?
A combination of issues may cause male menopause symptoms. Some are:
Low testosterone may be responsible for many of the symptoms we call male menopause. When your body doesn’t make enough testosterone, you may have:
- A drop in your libido (sex drive).
- Decreased bone mass.
- Decreased muscle strength.
- Enlarged or tender breasts.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Low energy.
- Low sperm count.
A man’s lifestyle can contribute to male menopause symptoms. Some factors are:
- A poor diet.
- Drinking too much alcohol.
- Lack of sleep.
- Low self-esteem.
- Not enough exercise.
- Relationship problems.
Many health problems common to middle-aged men produce symptoms of male menopause. They include:
- Erectile dysfunction (ED).
- Heart disease.
- High blood pressure.
Treatment for Male Menopause Symptoms
You should tell your primary care doctor about any troubling symptoms you’re having. They can run tests to check your hormone levels. Your doctor will treat you according to your symptoms.
Treatment for male menopause symptoms may include:
Your doctor or therapist may recommend stress management techniques. Meditation, yoga, and exercise may help decrease symptoms of male menopause. Taking time off work and spending more time with friends and loved ones can relieve anxiety.
Many middle-aged men live a sedentary lifestyle. Becoming more active and losing weight often helps reduce symptoms of male menopause.
Simple lifestyle changes can also boost your well-being. Eating healthy, getting regular exercise, and developing good sleep habits are all important.
If you have depression or anxiety, your primary care doctor may refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist. They may prescribe antidepressants along with therapy.
While male menopause isn’t a medical condition, hormonal and other age-related changes are real. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss any troubling symptoms.
Testosterone replacement therapy
A blood test can reveal low testosterone. Your doctor may prescribe testosterone pills, creams, or gels. But hormone treatment can have side effects such as:
- Accelerated growth of existing prostate cancer.
- Enlarged breast size.
- Growth of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
- Heart problems.
- Reduced sperm production.
- Sleep apnea.
- Testicle shrinkage.
Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons before starting any hormone replacement treatment.
Scripps.org, Is Male Menopause Real? Link
NHS, The “Male Menopause" Link
Medical News Today, Is the Male Menopause Real? Link
Medicine.net, Male Menopause, Link
Harvard Health Publishing, Hot Flashes in Men, Link
UPMC Health Library, Hot Flashes and Menopause, Link
Cancer Research UK, Hot Flushes and Sweats in Men, Link
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