As men advance in age, there seems to be a number of questions that arise in them about what might likely change in their normal regular body functions, especially as it concerns their reproductive health. It is good to discuss any questions you may have concerning your body with your health professional as you advance in age. Your doctor should be able to provide you with the right answers to allay your anxieties about old age and give you advice on how to cope and enjoy old age with your wife and family. We will consider a few issues in this article.
Unlike women, who experience a more dramatic change in their reproductive system and function as they age, men have a more gradual and subtle experience. The term “andropause” is now being used to describe reproductive changes in men as they advance in age, just like “menopause” describes reproductive changes in women as they age. There is no need to be anxious about getting old, it is a normal process for all men and with the right health attitude, you can have a great time during those years.
There are several changes that occur in both men and women as they advance in age such as loss of bone and muscle mass, increase in fat mass, impairment of physical, sexual and cognitive functions, loss of body hair and a reduction in haemoglobin levels, just to mention a few. The changes which are specific to men alone are more commonly changes in testicular tissue, sperm production and erectile dysfunction.
There maybe a slight change in sexual response, but not sexual drive as men grow in age. A man’s sexual response begins to slow down after the age of 50, but his sexual drive may not be affected. His sexual drive is more likely to be affected by other medical health conditions he may have, his attitude about sex, intimacy with his wife or an unwilling spouse, than by his age.
For many years, there has been considerable controversy over whether serum total testosterone levels are lower in healthy older men. Studies have confirmed that serum total testosterone levels are lower in older men in comparison to younger men. The decrease however, has been shown to be very gradual over a long period as men age from 20 – 80 years, which is further compounded by the influence of chronic illnesses and medications.
This very gradual decline in testosterone production rate and clearance rate in older men does not go below the normal threshold or affect there reproductive functions.
NORMAL AREAS OF CHANGES IN A MAN AS HE ADVANCES IN AGE
A man’s testes will continue to produce sperm even in old age, though the sperm production rate may be decreased. The tubes that carry sperm may loose some elasticity, as well as the epididymis, seminal vesicles and prostate gland. All these normal changes however do not affect the man’s fertility by any great measure. Even in old age, men are most likely to remain very functional for child bearing, unlike women.
The prostate gland enlarges with age, a condition known as Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) which affects 50% of men. BPH may cause problems with free urination and ejaculation. It does not affect the volume of fluid ejaculated and does not affect a man’s fertility.
The enlarged prostate may compress the urethra from the bladder, which obstructs urine free flow. BPH can predispose men to urinary tract infections, vesico-ureteral reflux, kidney failure, prostatitis and prostate cancer. Bladder and testicular cancer are seen more in younger men. It is recommended than men aged 50 and above get screened for BPH at the hospital.
Erections occur less often in aged men than when they were younger. In most cases (90%) however, the erectile dysfunction is due to a medical problem like diabetes in the man rather than just his age. Certain medications like those four hypertension can also prevent men from getting an erection or maintaining enough erection for intercourse with their spouses. Erectile dysfunction as a result of illnesses or medications are less successfully treated and so it’s important for you to talk to your doctor if you are having some difficulty in that area as you age.
Many of the physical age-related changes in men are not preventable. Getting treated for health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, BPH and others, may help to prevent the problems with urinary and sexual functions men face as they advance in age.