Menopause, also known as climacteric, is defined as the time in most women’s lives when menstrual periods stop permanently, indicating that a woman is no longer able to have children. Typically occurring between 45 and 55 years of age, menopause is usually described by health professionals as the point in time in which a woman has not had any vaginal bleeding for a year.
Menopause is viewed as a natural biological process, according to Mayo Clinic. While the condition means the end of fertility in women, they can still stay healthy, vigorous, and sexual. In fact, some women may feel relief, as they no longer need to worry about pregnancy.
On the other hand, andropause, also known colloquially as male menopause, is viewed as the result of a slow decline in a man’s testosterone levels. It is currently under debate where or not men really do undergo such the so-called menopause. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recognize the condition andropause. Andropause is believed to be the result of the reduction of the hormones testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone in middle-aged men. The hormone is known to aid in protein synthesis and it’s vital to a normal sexual drive and stamina. Aside from its functions in men’s reproductive health, testosterone also aids in metabolic functions like bone formation and liver health.
As menopause ends a woman’s fertility, common symptoms include irregular periods, hot flushes, sleep problems, weight gain and slowed metabolism, loss of breast fullness, thinning hair and dry skin, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood changes. Though it is unusual, some women experience menstruation every month right up to the last period, with each period having the possibility of being irregular.
In andropause, the reduction in the body’s testosterone levels is accompanied by common symptoms, which include fatigue, weakness, depression, and sexual challenges. However, the link between the aforementioned accompanying symptoms and the decline in a man’s testosterone levels is still controversial, according to Web MD.
With regard to management of menopause, women should cold hot flushes by dressing in layers, drinking cold water or beverages, or going to somewhere cooler. In addition, triggers, such as caffeine, alcohol, hot weather or warm room, spicy foods, hot beverages, and stress, should be identified. Vaginal discomfort can be alleviated by using over-the-counter, water-based vaginal lubricants like Astroglide or KY jelly, or moisturizers like Replens. Products that contain glycerin should be avoided, as they can cause irritation or burning sensation in women who are sensitive to the chemical. For urinary continence, pelvic floor muscle exercises like Kegel exercises can help relieve the condition. Also, balance between exercise and sleep should be established, along with relaxation techniques. Smoking should also be avoided, as it boosts the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, and cancer, among others.
On the other hand, testosterone therapy may be the core of the management for andropause. The hormone therapy aims to relieve symptoms like fatigue, loss of interest in sex, and depression. However, it is important to note that the therapy has possible risks and side effects, such as worsening of prostate cancer. Aside from testosterone therapy, a doctor may recommend lifestyle modifications for diet, exercise program, and medications to a man in the andropausal stage.
Overall, regular visit to a physician is vital when a woman and man land the stage of menopause and andropause, respectively. This is to address any issues concerning overall health, in addition to reproductive health. Also, medical consult with a physician includes preventive healthcare, which includes screenings, lipid screening, thyroid testing, colonoscopy, and pelvic exams, among others, allowing a person to avoid middle-aged related diseases.