Male Menopause – Does it Exist?

So yesterday I had my remicade infusion (yay!) and can look forward to another 12 weeks being relatively pain free.  I mentioned to my doctor that I have had lower back pain for the last 3 weeks, and have had to take tramadol each day for it, and she asked me if I thought the celebrex was working.  Hmmmmm.  Good question – and to be honest I’m not sure if it is or not.  There was one night I didn’t take it and I believe that I woke up with more back pain that usual.  In any case she renewed my prescription for celebrex and also gave me some tramadol.  I usually by tramadol OTC here but am worried about whether it is fake or not, so feel better about getting it through the hospital.

Anyway, each time I get my remicade infusion they also draw off blood to check my inflammatory markers etc (which are always normal) and this time I asked if she could also check my testosterone level too since they already had my blood.  She said ok, but asked me why.  I mentioned that I was interested to get a baseline and also see if I was in the lower range of normal or not, and that I had looked into testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).  She then said that men in their late 40s go through andropause, which is the male equivalent of menopause.  I had never heard of this, so went to look it up – since it may be something that could affect me in the future.  She also said that one of her colleagues often prescribes testosterone injections for elderly men who have low testosterone, and she’d be happy to refer me if I was worried about my levels.  To be honest, I’m not worried – more interested to see what my levels are.  I think that they should be ok since I do a lot of gym work – however it would be good to verify this.

After doing some reading I found that apparently there is some debate about whether male menopause equivalent actually exists or not.  As this website states:

Unlike menopause in women which represents a well-defined period in which hormone production stops completely, testosterone decline in men is a slower process. The testes, unlike the ovaries, do not run out of the substance it needs to make testosterone. A healthy male may be able to make sperm well into his eighties or longer.

The Mayo Clinic site goes further to categorically state that an equivalent male menopause does not exist:

So what’s the best way to refer to so-called male menopause? Many doctors use the term “andropause” to describe aging-related hormone changes in men. Other terms for so-called male menopause include testosterone deficiency, androgen deficiency of the aging male and late-onset hypogonadism.

I found that Wikipedia puts it much clearer with the statement:

Unlike women, middle-aged men do not experience a complete and permanent physiological shutting down of the reproductive system as a normal event. A steady decline in testosterone levels with age (in both men and women) is well documented

So it seems that the biggest event involved in menopause is the shut down of the reproductive system, and indeed this does not happen with men.

So are bodybuilders and fitness freaks more sheltered from the decline in testosterone?  I couldn’t find any studies that support this statement.  All the sites I read were all about treatments to delay or reverse andropause, i.e. TRT.

I haven’t received my testosterone results yet.  Sitting in the back of my mind is the question – what will I do if the results are low normal?  Will I start TRT?  As I wrote in an earlier blog I’m worried about starting TRT as it seems that once you start you can never go back.  Oh well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it I guess.

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