There's no doubt both sexes experience a "change of life" in some form sometime in their 40s or 50s. But that doesn't mean that this change is the same for both sexes. Though andropause is often referred to as "male menopause," there are actually a number of differences in the effects of aging on men's and women's hormones and on their bodies.
But before we focus on the divide between the sexes, let's look at the similarities - or at the least the similarities that have to do with the effects of aging! Both men and women experience a drop-off in sex-related hormone levels as they age, which can cause a number of changes in the body.
In women, the decrease and eventual stop in production of the "female" hormones estrogen and progesterone causes menopause, which is marked by the end of menstrual periods. This results in some symptoms similar to those of andropause.
Like andropausal men, women going through menopause may experience hot flashes, low sex drive caused by both emotional and physical changes, weight gain, irritability, and depression. Like their male counterparts, women going through this "change of life" are also at an increased risk for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
Looking at those symptoms, it may seem that men and women are actually pretty similar - at least in this case. But there are a number of key differences between andropause and menopause.
For starters, menopause literally means the end of menstruation, while there is no such specific signpost to characterize the condition for andropausal men. Secondly, women experience a much faster drop-off in hormone levels than men do as they age - testosterone decreases gradually over decades, while the onset of menopause is relatively short.
As well, while some of the symptoms of menopause may vary from woman to woman, all females do stop getting their menstrual periods. In contrast, though all men will experience a decrease in testosterone production, not all men will have a big enough drop to cause any physical symptoms.
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