How to tell if your testosterone levels are dipping


To diagnose andropause, the doctor will have to order a test for your testosterone levels. — 123rf.com

I have heard of this term “male menopause”. I am a 60-year-old man, and I think I may be having it. How is it different from women’s menopause?

Many non-medical professionals call it “andropause”.

But many medical professionals believe that it is not a helpful term.

The reason is that if you call it andropause, it leads people to believe that it is similar to the female menopause, which is caused by a sudden drop in hormone levels in every woman once her reproductive years are over.

But andropause does not happen in all men.

Unlike in women, it does not involve a complete shutdown of your reproductive organs such as your penis and testicles.

Do testosterone levels ever drop in men at all during their lifetime?

Yes, they do.

Testosterone levels do indeed fall as men age. But the decline is very steady, such as less than 2% per year. This decline starts at the age of around 30 to 40, then slowly and gradually goes down year by year.

You will hardly notice it.

When you are symptomatic, it is because you have a more pronounced form of testosterone deficiency.

So andropause is also known as testosterone deficiency, androgen deficiency or late-onset hypogonadism.

Andropause usually signifies a significant drop in testosterone in men who are 50 years or older.

What is testosterone?

For a man, testosterone is a sex hormone that is produced in your testicles.

It may be termed a sex hormone, but in truth, it does so much more than merely fuel your sex drive and need for reproduction.

It is what turns you from a boy to a man during puberty. It makes you physically and mentally energetic. It maintains your musculature and mass as a man.

It also regulates your flight and fight response, and is responsible for you growing your pubic hair and your facial beard.

It also causes your voice to deepen to that of a fully grown man.

How will I know if I have andropause?

Andropause can cause these symptoms that progressively worsen as you get older:

  • low energy, lowered motivation to do things
  • depression or sadness
  • low self confidence
  • difficulty in sleeping, insomnia
  • difficulty in focusing or concentrating, mood swings and feeling irritable
  • increase in your body fat
  • reduced muscle mass
  • feeling weak and tired
  • swollen or tender breasts, and possibly also development of male breasts, or gynaecomastia (man boobs)
  • decreased bone density, leading to osteoporosis
  • erectile dysfunction and reduced libido or sex drive, and infertility
  • decreased size of your testicles
  • loss of your body hair, and
  • hot flashes (like female menopause).

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will need to order a test for your testosterone levels.

If indeed, you have testosterone deficiency and these symptoms are really interfering with your life and your family’s well-being, you may be offered testosterone replacement therapy.

You mean like a woman’s hormone replacement therapy?Yes, but with testosterone instead of oestrogen.

Testosterone can come in the form of tablets, patches, gels, implants or injections.

You will also need to eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise and enough sleep, besides reducing your stress levels.

Men who do this will see a dramatic change in their symptoms and overall health.

Testosterone replacement therapy may also have a lot of side-effects, such as worsening prostate cancer if you already have prostate cancer. That is why it is very controversial.

You need to discuss with your doctor carefully and weigh all the pros and cons before embarking on testosterone therapy, pretty much like what a woman should do before embarking on oestrogen replacement therapy after her menopause.

I experienced some but not all of those symptoms that you described. I went to a doctor and had my testosterone levels checked. But they are considered normal for my age. Why am I feeling this way then?

These symptoms may sometimes be caused by lifestyle or personal issues. You may be having stress, depression or anxiety – worrying about your work, money and family, or even having a mid-life crisis.

It may also be because of a poor diet, smoking too much, drinking alcohol, or lacking exercise.

Visit your doctor to discuss how to be healthier.


Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health, computers and entertainment. For further information, email starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, use-fulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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