"Male menopause" is a rather inaccurate but popular term used to describe the symptoms of low testosterone levels in older men, which is called andropause. As men age, levels of testosterone can drop by as much as 50%. Other terms for the same condition include male menopause, male climacteric, viropause, and PADAM (Partial Androgen Deficiency in Aging Men, sometimes shortened to ADAM).
What does testosterone do?
Although many people are aware of its important role in maintaining muscle strength and sexual function in men, testosterone also has important effects on the brain, skin, liver, kidneys, blood, bones, heart, cholesterol levels, and the prostate.
The pituitary gland in the brain controls the release of testosterone in the testicles. The pituitary gland first produces the hormones leutinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). These hormones travel through the bloodstream to the testicles, where they stimulate the testicles to produce both testosterone and sperm.
Andropause may be diagnosed when there is a low level of testosterone in the blood, symptoms of testosterone deficiency, and improvement of those symptoms when testosterone replacement is taken. There are many potential causes of testosterone deficiency, so it is important to determine the exact cause of testosterone deficiency and determine which therapy is appropriate.
Richard A. Bebb, MD
in association with the MediResource Clinical Team