In a world that glorifies youth, it can be challenging to get excited about getting older. Rather than treating aging as a fantastic privilege, it’s viewed as a hindrance that paints a dark vision of the future ahead filled with bodily aches, dips in metabolism, lower sex drive, and mood swings.

It’s no wonder we tend to avoid this topic and have little to no awareness of important processes such as menopause and andropause, which significantly impact our physical and mental well-being. If you’ve been struggling with symptoms like forgetfulness, hot flashes, low motivation, fatigue, insomnia, or irritability, this blog post is for you!

Today, we dive into the uncharted waters of aging, discuss the symptoms of menopause and andropause as well as share available treatment options like psychotherapy or HRT – hormonal replacement therapy. Keep on reading to learn how to navigate this journey with resilience and grace.

hormonal changes in menopause and andropause

What Is Menopause?

Menopause is a phase of a woman’s life often shrouded in secrecy as if it’s something to be ashamed of. Yet, it’s simply a natural biological process that signifies the end of reproductive potential among women, typically between 45 and 55 years old.

Menopause is characterized by hormonal changes, particularly a steep decline in estrogen levels. Besides playing a crucial role in regulating women’s menstrual cycle and sexual functions, estrogen can impact our mood, as it’s linked to serotonin, a neurotransmitter otherwise known as “the happiness hormone”.

Since the fluctuation and decline in hormone production vary from one person to another, symptoms of menopause differ in intensity, with some women experiencing mild issues and others struggling with severe discomfort and a higher risk of developing mental health issues, such as symptoms of depression affecting 20-40% of women.

Menopause: Common Symptoms

physical changes psychological changes

What Is Andropause?

While most people are aware of menopause, the same cannot be said about andropause, also called male menopause or late-onset hypogonadism (LOH). Just like menopause, andropause is a natural biological process characterized by changes in testosterone level, starting around the age of 40, affecting 10-25% of men. While for women, the hormones plummet rapidly, the level of testosterone, the hormone responsible for key male sex functions, decreases gradually, at the rate of 1% per year, slowly but surely impacting both physical and mental well-being.

Unfortunately, symptoms of andropause are often ignored, dismissed, or written off as aging-related issues. Additionally, they can be situated on a spectrum varying from mild discomfort to severe problems. As a result, many men do not get professional help and proper treatment when necessary and suffer negative consequences. The good news is you can always learn how to navigate the journey of aging with greater ease. Start by educating yourself and staying informed on andropause.

Andropause: Common Symptoms

physical changes psychological changes
  • reduced sex drive
  • low energy/fatigue
  • sleep disturbances & insomnia
  • erectile dysfunction
  • muscle mass & bone density loss
  • decreased sperm count/quality
  • weight gain
  • hair loss

menopause and andropause

How To Navigate Menopause & Andropause?

Midlife, the time when menopause and andropause occur, is a period filled with challenges connected to not only hormonal changes but also many responsibilities, such as taking care of one’s children and elderly parents.

If you’re struggling with increased stress, have difficulty accepting the irreversible physical changes, or are exhausted by mental health issues, keep in mind that there are a lot of actions you can take to make this process easier. Not to mention, menopause and andropause are temporary and will pass.

In the meantime, here’s what you can do to navigate this process with grace:

1: Medications & HRT – Hormone Replacement Therapy

HRT is a common treatment option that can help stabilize levels of hormones (estrogen or testosterone) and alleviate some problematic symptoms of menopause or andropause, such as fatigue, mood swings, or lower sex drive.

Medications, on the other hand, can be used to address specific issues, such as erectile dysfunction in men or symptoms of depression in both men and women.

If you feel like you could benefit from any of those options, consult your symptoms with your doctor first.

2: Lifestyle Changes

Having a foundation of a healthy lifestyle is an invaluable resource that can foster better physical and mental well-being. Here are some suggestions to consider:

3: Psychological Support

Getting older is not by any means easy peasy. Confronting your mortality, accepting the limitations of your body, and going through the hormone-induced emotional rollercoaster are significant challenges not to be taken lightly.

If facing your menopause or andropause has been difficult for you, remember that you don’t have to go through this process alone. Reaching out to a psychotherapist creates an opportunity for you to:

  • discuss your issues in a supportive, non-judgmental space,
  • identify complex emotions and beliefs regarding aging,
  • learn effective coping mechanisms such as stress reduction or emotion regulation,
  • practice gratitude and adopt a positive outlook on life.

Don’t wait for your mental health issues to go away on their own. Take charge of your life and get professional help with Harbor Psychiatry today!