Everyone knows about women going through menopause, but have you ever heard of andropause? Andropause is an actual process that men go through, similar to women going through menopause. Many guys these days are on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) because of poorly run cycles and post cycle therapy (PCT), taking steroids at a very young age, or even just a long history of cycling. However, this is not the only reason to be on TRT.
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What is Menopause?
Let us first take a look at the familiar topic of menopause. It is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for 12 months. This is when a woman’s ovaries cease to function. It is a gradual process that usually occurs at around 50 years of age but may occur as early as the 30’s and as late as the 60’s. Generally, the age of menopause depends on genetic predesposition.
Symptoms usually include abnormal vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, and mood changes. Treatments are not always necessary but may include hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the use of SERMS (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators), and some alternative medicines.
What is Andropause?
Similar to menopause, andropause has a gradual onset. Andropause or Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome (TDS) occurs as men age and the testicles begin to produce less testosterone. This is not the only hormone that is affected. Sex hormone binding globulin or SHBG, which pulls usable testosterone from the blood, begins to increase. SHBG binds to some of the available testosterone (free testosterone) circulating in the blood. The testosterone that is not bound to the SHBG hormone is what we call bioavailable testosterone, or the testosterone that is available for use by the body. In simple terms, an increase in SHBG decreases usable testosterone levels.
True low testosterone will result in multiple symptoms including low libido, lack of energy, poor concentration, loss of physical strength, irritability, increased body fat, and decreased muscle mass. Sometimes erectile dysfunction is present as well.
Doctors are hesitant to diagnose andropause as the symptoms are often similar with those of natural aging. They will ask you questions about how you feel to see if your symptoms are similar to those of low testosterone. They will then order a blood test in order to rule out hypogonadism, diabetes, and high blood pressure, which have similar symptoms.
Your doctor will first recommend lifestyle changes such as increased exercise, stress reduction, and proper nutrition. They will then start to look at TRT or Testosterone Replacement Therapy as an option. Testosterone is available in many forms including gels, injections, skin patches, and capsules. Skin patches and gels may cause irritation to the skin but are usually the doctors’ first course of action. Capsules are not commonly used because they must be taken twice daily after meals and cannot be used by men who have liver, heart, or kidney issues. Nor should they be used by men who have too much calcium in their blood.
Usually, injections are the most effective TRT method. Doctors will prescribe either Testosterone Cypionate or Testosterone Enanthate. A normal dosage is between 100-200mgs per week. This dose is meant to get your test levels into the “upper-normal” range.
TRT and Bodybuilding
Plenty of guys these days are on testosterone replacement therapy due to mistakes they have made cycling or just running too many cycles in their careers without proper PCT. A lot of bodybuilders choose to go with the “blast and cruise” method. This is not something to take lightly. Once this path is sought, you will be a “slave to the needle” for life. Your body will no longer be able to produce its own natural testosterone. As a result, you will have to supplement with exogenous testosterone for the rest of your life.
While we know how it feels to be “on” cycle, and the allure of staying “on”, time off and a proper PCT is the best way to get your natural production going and should be the preferred method.
Men who think they fall into the andropause category are encouraged to speak to their family doctor about their symptoms. Many doctors are not up to date on these treatments, so it may require some searching for other doctors. There are also many “men’s clinics” or “anti-aging clinics” that are able to prescribe hormones. Just be careful, as some of these will be out of pocket expenses and not covered by insurance.
Want to read about Andropause on our forums? check out these threads: