|As a man ages many changes occur in his body,
some of which are due to changes in the levels of
circulating hormones. These age-related changes
in hormone levels increase his risk for developing
In the past, it was thought
that andropause was caused exclusively by a decrease
in the level of a man’s most potent sex hormone,
testosterone. However, there are also accompanying
changes, both up and down, in other hormones.
From fifty to seventy, a man's testosterone level
can decline as much as thirty to fifty percent.
If he started out on the low side in his earlier
years, this decline can be more pronounced.
As this drop in testosterone occurs, a simultaneous
age-related increase occurs in a protein called
“sex hormone binding globulin” (SHBG) which binds
to testosterone, making it less available to the
body. There is also an age-related increase in estrogen
levels to compound the problem.
While both men and women experience lowered levels
of certain hormones as they age, symptoms of the
decline differ significantly.
With women, the drop is marked by the physical
end of their menstrual cycle and is called menopause.
It is mostly due to a decrease in estrogen levels,
along with almost total cessation of the production
of progesterone, and is marked by symptoms like
hot flashes, night sweats, and general irritability.
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Men have a similar drop in hormone levels, but
do not have an obvious physical marker for the condition,
as do women, and their symptoms are more subtle.
The condition however, is quite real, and many professionals
now use the terms “andropause” or “PADAM” an acronym
for “Partial Androgen Deficiency of the Aging Male”
to describe it.
A large number of studies have linked imbalances
in estrogen to androgen ratios to the development
of both breast and prostate cancer. The age-related
changes in relative ratios of these hormones have
a direct effect on the prostate, the libido, erectile
function, sexual ability, orgasms, and a host of
The symptoms many aging males experience include:
While some of these symptoms can be the result
of minor problems, they may also accompany serious
problems and should be evaluated by a medical doctor.
Aside from normal aging, which is beyond our control,
there are many lifestyle and nutritional issues
that can cause additional estrogen production or
initiate a reduction in androgens. For example,
excess fat tissue produces estrogens. An overweight
or obese man can have significantly higher estrogen
levels than a man of normal weight which will alter
his testosterone to estrogen ratio.
Also, alcohol consumption, smoking, and other
environmental factors can exacerbate age-related
hormone imbalances. In contrast to aging, external
factors are certainly controllable, at least to
a degree, if one is willing to make the effort to
By maintaining overall health and hormone
balance, many men can alleviate these symptoms and
restore youthful vigor.
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