Men do not face the kind of rapid decline of hormones that characterize menopause, but they do go through what’s called “andropause,” a steady drop in the levels of androgens (male sex hormones). For example, testosterone levels peak around age 20. After that, testosterone levels begin to decline by about 1 percent a year.
These hormonal changes can affect fertility, sexual desire, and sexual performance. Men 35 or older have half the chance of fathering a child within 12 months, compared with a man who is a younger than 30. In addition, as men age, the genetic quality of their sperm declines significantly.
How a man’s reproductive tract and sex organs age, of course, is affected by many things: what he eats, how much he exercises, what illnesses and accidents he has sustained in life, whether he smokes or abuses drugs, what chemicals he is exposed to at work or home, and a host of other external factors. Although the underlying hormonal changes of andropause are primarily governed by genes, the choices men make every day can significantly slow down—or speed up—their biological clock.
Learn more about male menopause — and see what happens when we compare the testosterone levels of a young, fit male with an older, out-of-shape man — in this segment from ‘Today.’