Andropause

Older adult man who looks grumpy and sad is suffering from andropause

The male menopause (andropause) is a natural event that occurs in all men. After the andropause no male hormones are manufactured in the testes, the testes no longer produce sperm, and the man is infertile.

The male sex hormone (testosterone) is released from the testes into the blood in response to signals from the pituitary gland, which sits underneath the centre of the brain. These hormones effect every part of the body, but more particularly the penis, scrotum and body hair production. For an unknown reason, once a man reaches an age somewhere between the late sixties and late seventies, the pituitary gland stops sending messages to the testes, which results in the symptoms of the andropause.

The man experiences the gradual onset of a loss of interest in sex (low libido), difficulty in maintaining or achieving an erection of the penis, a lack of ejaculation during sex, thinning of body and pubic hair, and shrinking of the testicles. Osteoporosis may occur, particularly if there is a family history, or the andropause occurs at an early age. These symptoms are far more subtle, and far less distressing than those that occur in the female menopause.

Blood tests can determine the levels of testosterone and the stimulating hormone released by the pituitary gland.

No treatment is normally necessary as it is a normal part of the ageing process, but if the andropause occurs earlier than normal, or following an injury or surgery to the testes or pituitary gland, testosterone supplements may be given by tablet, injection or implant.

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(Last modified: 14th Oct 2014)

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