Andropause is described as that time in a man’s life when the level of hormones, such as androgen, begins to decrease. This change is also referred to as male menopause.
Androgen deficiency in aging men has numerous effects on their psychological processes. Cognition is defined as the mental processes such as calculations, language, memory, learning, visual-spatial abilities, imagination, social skills and attention spans. Aging may cause the cognitive function to remain the same or to decline. So, is there a link between androgen decline and cognitive impairments in aging males?
Both bioavailable and free testosterone trend to decline with age. Each decade, after a man has reached 50 years old, a male will lose about 100 ng/dl of testosterone. Male hypogonadism causes a more dramatic loss of testosterone where bioavailable testosterone declines at 70 ng/dl and free testosterone declines at 300 ng/dl per decade. This leads to symptoms such as low libido, loss of energy, fatigue, muscle weakness, erectile dysfunction and memory loss.
The rate of testosterone decline varies from one person to another and is usually increased by illness, obesity, medications and serious emotional stress. When it comes to obesity, waist circumference is one of the risk factors that cause low testosterone and androgen deficiency. The threshold at which symptoms begin to be visible also varies from person to person, although they must have low testosterone levels. Researchers have taken two approaches with one being purely statistical and the other clinical. However, the problem is that men with low testosterone may not always exhibit deficiency symptoms or may have many non-specific signs.
What the Studies Show
In a study conducted on male veterans who had been attending outpatient clinics in Texas, 22 questionnaires were given by a single interviewer. The information provided was inclusive of socio-demographic characteristics such as the subject’s smoking and drinking habits and their ethnicity. The questionnaire asked whether they experienced a stroke, hypertension, diabetes and dementia. The answers were either yes, no or unsure. There were also questions on symptoms like weakness, greater intimacy, hot flashes and impotence.
In the study, there were 302 participants, 98 percent of whom were above 40 years of age. 72 percent were between 60-80 years. In this study, 87 percent were white, 6 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent black. A majority of them smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day.
The study showed that memory loss, weakness and erectile dysfunction were the most common symptom amongst all the participants. What this shows is that healthy brain functions depend on androgen and other male hormones. While menopause is universal and will affect the brain functions of both men and women, hormones also play a huge role in the question on whether brain function radically decreases as a result of low hormones. Conditions such as dementia, that “senior moment,” and Alzheimer’s are all the results of cognitive impairment due to the decline of testosterone in the body.
Low testosterone levels may make it difficult for a person to concentrate, and this will subsequently cause a decline in self-confidence. While conditions such as Alzheimer’s are degenerative diseases, their onset is fastened by the decline in testosterone levels in the body. Studies showed that while other causes for such illnesses have to be considered, andropause may be the most prevalent cause. This is so because such diseases are prevalent in patients who undergo androgen suppressive therapy to help cure prostate cancer than they are in patients who do not undergo this therapy. Low levels of testosterone will cause moodiness, and the other symptoms will cause depression and others stress disorders.
In conclusion, everyone wants to enjoy the luxury of a fully functional memory so they can keep learning without forgetting the things they know already. A reduced cognitive function has a huge impact on the quality of life for all individuals regardless of their ethnicity, age or lifestyle choices. Failing to address the underlying hormonal problems is the main reason why many men suffer from these brain disorders. Treatments such as testosterone therapy may be helpful in combating these issues.