Hormonal change is a naturally occurring part of aging, and it affects both women and men. While menopause is a fairly familiar topic among female patients and the medical community, andropause – the similar aging-related hormone changes in men, is little discussed. Although affecting almost every male over 50, andropause, also known as “male menopause”, is a medical condition that few men understand or have a grasp of.

Similar to menopause, andropause has a gradual onset. Unlike a pimple, it doesn't pop up in your life; you won't see it in the mirror, and it doesn't hurt. Basically, you can go years without even noticing the changes in your body. Take a look at this guide to better understand andropause, its symptoms,  what to expect, and what to do about it.

Understand Testosterone – the Main Male Hormone

Testosterone production usually starts around puberty and continues uninterruptedly until death. However, after a certain age, depending on various factors, the testosterone production slowly decreases. Some estimates put this figure at about 1 percent every year after 30. So, a typical 40-year old man has about 91 percent of the testosterone he had when he was 30 years old.

Simply put, andropause is a general umbrella term for a series of symptoms and their related conditions caused by a reduction in testosterone production. Andropause, however, is a condition mired with uncertainty: you can't pinpoint its onset, the symptoms are not obvious and its treatment is not straightforward.

The safest way to determine whether andropause is already affecting a person is to take a blood test. It is the only efficient way to diagnose a low testosterone level. Some men can have low testosterone levels, but will display no symptoms, while others may already be experiencing symptoms like these:

Changes in sleep patterns

Some people with low testosterone complain about sleep disturbances, such as increased sleepiness, insomnia, or difficulty sleeping.

Changes in sexual function

These include erectile dysfunction (not based on psychological issues), a reduced sexual desire and activity, infertility, and fewer spontaneous erections. In some cases, patients report a reduction in testicle size.

Changes in body and appearance

Some people may face a reduction in muscle mass, stamina, or bone mass. Similarly, an increased appetite and a high body fat might be common. Loss of body hair, gynecomastia (commonly known as male breasts), reduced energy levels, and psychological issues (such as depression or anxiety) are also possible.

Changes in personality

Men with low testosterone are prone to having various changes in their personalities, such as feeling emotionally disconnected, unmotivated, or having low confidence. In severe cases, some patients may turn to alcohol or drug use to counter the psychological effects caused by low testosterone levels.

What to do if you have a low testosterone level?

Having a low testosterone level doesn't necessarily mean you have andropause, but it is likely. Keep in mind that only a doctor can confirm this diagnosis. Generally, your physician will run other tests to make sure you do have andropause. He or she will explain what you will need to do and will offer a treatment plan for your medical issues and symptoms. Treatment may include hormone therapy, which in this case could be provided by a company like Body Concepts. Hormone therapy is common for men and women and is utilized to restore hormonal imbalances.

With that being said, you can't boost your natural testosterone production, but there are a lot of things you can do to adapt your lifestyle and make the best choices in order to have a fruitful life during this phase:

−    Keep a healthy diet and include physical activity in your daily schedule. You will feel energetic, have a better stamina, keep your lean muscle mass and improve your sleep

−    Seek professional help if you feel depressed. Some men, when feeling depressed, may become irritable and aggressive, or may try to self-medicate with alcohol

−    Be honest with people around you. Andropause is a difficult phase for men and, sometimes, because of the hormone changes, their family and friends may become estranged, unwanted or unloved