Testosterone levels in men gradually decline with age and this can have a big impact on libido and quality of life. Online personal trainer Andrew Cate takes a closer look at what has been termed “male menopause”.
Unlike women, who experience a rapid drop in the level of their dominant hormone oestrogen, men’s testosterone levels fall gradually, and over a longer period of time.
Diagnosing male menopause requires a blood test to check testosterone levels. However, there are a wide range of symptoms that may indicate testosterone deficiency syndrome (TSD), including the following:
- Irritability and mood changes
- Poor concentration
- Low energy levels
- Reduced muscle strength
- Decreased libido
- Difficulty getting and keeping an erection
- Reduced semen volume
- Hot flushes and/or sweats
- Breast development
- Osteoporosis (thinning of bones)
- Reduced beard or body hair growth
Testosterone is the dominant male sex hormone produced primarily in the testicles and it plays a key role in reproduction and sexual function.
It is also important for the growth of bones and muscle and it has a strong influence on mood and libido.
Most men experience a gradual reduction in testosterone levels as they age, and some experience testosterone deficiency syndrome (TSD). This can have an impact on the health and quality of life of middle aged and older men.
Because there are some similarities between TSD and the hormonal changes that women undergo during menopause, the term “male menopause” evolved.
Zinc is important for the production of the hormone testosterone, and is essential to good health as it is found in every cell of the body. In addition to supplements, zinc can be found in nuts, pumpkin seeds, meats, grains, milk, and milk products.
Because male menopause is still relatively unknown, and can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, many men may suffer from TSD without treatment. Yet there are some lifestyle strategies that can help to maintain and even elevate testosterone levels.
Strength training – adding strength training to your exercise regime is one of the most effective ways to maintain and even increase the secretion of testosterone naturally. To maximise the hormonal response, increase the intensity of your training as you get stronger by lifting heavier weights, and minimise any rest between exercises. Focus on multi-joint exercises that use the big muscle groups in your chest, upper back, shoulders, buttocks and thighs such as bench press, pull downs, seated rows, squats and lunges.
Get enough sleep – sleep quality and quantity can also affect testosterone secretion. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation leads to a reduction in the concentration of circulating testosterone in men. A 2002 study found that men with sleep apnoea (poor quality sleep caused by frequent waking) had significantly reduced testosterone levels. Improve your sleep quality and quantity by keeping your bedroom dark, cool and quiet. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and large meals for several hours before bed time.