The Andropause is the time in a man’s life when the hormones naturally start decline usually during their late forties or early fifties. This decline continues into the eighties. Many have questioned whether the male menopause is more myth than reality. The Andropause is a gradual process and not exactly the same as menopause. However, like women undergoing menopause, the decline in hormones in men result in them suffering from symptoms of the Andropause. However, like the menopause, symptoms of Andropause can vary from person to person.
Between the ages of 50 to 70, some men report symptoms such as erectile dysfunction (failure to achieve an erection), general tiredness, mood changes, night sweats and sometimes palpitations. Most men attribute erectile dysfunction to be the most significant event of the Andropause. Apart from erectile dysfunction, mood changes can take place too. Some patients of mine have complained of nervousness, irritability and even depression. Other patients undergoing andropausal changes report the feelings of wanting to be closer to family and friends. Men often focus too intently on their career, money and power in their earlier life, often neglecting family and friends. In the andropausal years, men and take on a more “maternal” role, as if transitioning to become more motherly than fatherly. They become more concerned about their friends and family, as if regretting their former attitudes. It is interesting that many patients do not sense these changes in themselves, but rather it is women that notice this and tells me that he is undergoing “the menopause”.
In andropausal men, night sweats and palpitations occur because of an overactive autonomic system in response to falling testosterone levels. To assess for hypogonadism, which is in part the clinical basis of the Andropause, the doctor will check for physical signs in men including hair loss particularly in the armpit and genitalia. Psychological tests may be carried out to rule out depression and other mood and cognitive changes. Although once willing to take risks of all sorts, the andropausal man becomes more conservative and fears treading in unclear waters. Productivity is at the core of a man’s being. He feels happy when he creates something and is being noticed for it. He wants to feel contributory to his family and society. All his life he struggles to be the breadwinner for the family, and to get recognition at work for his efforts. In the days of early man, hunting and providing for his family and society was at the hub of function. For modern man, there may not be a need for barbaric hunting, but the board room still makes the same demands on his skills and abilities, and managing those complex business deals is akin to modern hunting. Andropause is a time of decline, when he is no longer as productive as he was before. Often he makes even less money than when he was younger, and feels threatened by younger more aggressive males biting into his turf. A man’s personality may not stay the same over the years of his life. In younger days the fiery younger male is impulsive, intolerant and ambitious. With the passage of time, various experiences and the fall in testosterone, quite a different male may emerge in later years. The red hot male often converts to a mellow yellow version, becoming more “feminine” and “domesticated”, and taking on less challenges in the outside world, often preferring the cozy security of family and close friends. He is much less active, prefers his couch to watch television, and becomes weaker from lack of exercise. Deep inside every man is the desire to remain young and be that little boy that he once was. This may become more marked after retirement as usually there is more spare time at hand. The andropausal man may relive his childhood days, often to the amazement of his partner or spouse. The mischief may be an extramarital affair, a new red sports car, a sudden passion for toy train sets, riding a bicycle, which he hadn’t done for years and so on. Many doctors think, that many hormones have been approved for human use and yield positive results. Melanotan is a peptide that is produced in the body as a way of making an animal’s skin tan. This is used as a response to exposure to UV rays to protect the animal’s body against skin cancer and other damage. This chemical has been synthesized as melanotan 2, which was developed by researchers at the University of Arizona. This synthetic analog mimics the behaviors of the melanocortin peptide hormone alpha-melaocyte stimulating hormone. The synthetic version of this peptide has been found to produce similar melanogenesis effects and aphrodisiac effects in animal test subjects, in the initial clinical trials that have been performed. To date, no compounds that contain melanotan 2 peptides have been approved for human use as clinical trials are still ongoing. However, initial research indicates that this peptide may be very useful in preventing a variety of cancers and other diseases if the effects of it can be regulated to minimize side effects.