Frame Magazine


Andropause, also known as male androgen deficiency syndrome, is the male equivalent of female menopause. It results from diminished levels of testosterone in the body along with a relative increase in estrogen – exhibiting a similar symptom complex to female menopause. Testosterone is a hormone secreted by the testes, adrenal glands and ovaries. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, responsible for male sexual development and critical in maintaining erectile function, libido, energy levels, mood, building muscles, and burning fat. It is responsible for supporting immune function, bone density, and skin tone. It controls a whole range of physiological functions throughout the body in both males and females. Testosterone levels decline with advancing age. The decline begins when a man is in his mid to late 30s, and by the age of 80, is only 20% of what it was in youth. While the total testosterone does not drop drastically, the free testosterone, which is the biologically active form, does decline dramatically with age. Free testosterone makes up about 2-3% of the total amount of testosterone secreted. Increased estrogen levels, obesity, and insulin resistance in men can also cause a drop in the free testosterone levels. One way to help maintain testosterone levels is by reducing excess body fat. Weight training is another way to raise testosterone levels in both males and females. In general, testosterone replenishment for andropausal men has the potential to prolong quality-of-life by decreasing many diseases of aging. Testosterone protects against cardiovascular disease; it can raise HDL (good) cholesterol, and can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. It can decrease blood pressure, excess body fat, and symptoms of arthritis. Testosterone is a memory enhancer for many men. It stimulates the cardiovascular system, the neurologic system, muscles, bones and the vascular system. It prevents tendon and joint degeneration and osteoporosis.’ The enzyme system called aromatase (found mainly in abdominal fat cells) converts a portion of testosterone into estrogen further diminishing testosterone production and availability. Because the drop in testosterone is more gradual, the symptoms of andropause appear over a longer period of time as compared to the female menopause. Symptoms present slowly, with a gradual and progressive loss of overall energy, thinning bones and muscles, increased body fat, depression, and impaired sexual function. Testosterone deficiency is closely linked to hypertension, obesity and increased risk of heart disease. Many men with heart attacks often have lower levels of testosterone and higher levels of estrogen. Low free testosterone is an independent predictor of coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis) in men. Low testosterone is also a common characteristic in men suffering from heart failure. Testosterone replacement increases cardiac output in men with congestive heart failure. (By Christopher James Stewart)