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The truth behind 'male menopause'

Male hormone levels start to drop off at age 31

It has long been thought to be only a female problem, however menopause is also affecting America's aging male population.

"Male menopause" or Andropause is an inevitable but unwelcome change brought on by a drop in male hormone levels.

"After age 31, there's a one, one-and-a-half percent decrease in testosterone per year, so certainly by the time men are 60, 70 years old, we can see a significant decrease in their androgen levels, testosterone levels," Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Lawrence Hakim said.

A 79-year-old man said he started noticing changes a few years ago.

"Across the board fatigue was becoming more of an issue than it used to be," he said. "I could just feel like things weren't what they used to be."

Symptoms of andropause include irritability, weight gain, memory loss, low libido, muscle loss, osteoporosis, cardiac issues and erectile problems.

Simple blood tests can determine whether hormone levels are in normal ranges. That, combined with symptoms, determines the course of treatment which includes hormone therapy shots or topical gels.

"It's not something men should treat on their own," Dr. Hakim said. "They need to see an expert so that it's safe and we reduce the risk or side effects of taking these medicines by themselves."

Without proper supervision, Dr. Hakim said the treatments can have a dramatic impact.

Men with a risk or history of prostate cancer should not undergo hormone therapy. Doctors routinely check PSA levels for early warning signs of changes in the prostate.