Utter the word menopause, and most people immediately picture the middle aged woman. It’s very unlikely that any American woman will reach her 40s without some knowledge of menopause lurking in her future. Pharmaceutical and herbal companies are wooing the woman, seeing her as a soon-to-be customer. She cannot help but be aware that she will experience at least some of the well known symptoms of menopause: hot flashes, moodiness, depression, insomnia, night sweats, thinning hair, vaginal dryness, and loss of libido. For all the attention given to women and their experiences with menopause, there is very little literature or advertising aimed toward the middle aged man. But men often do experience changes between the ages of 40 and 70 that are part of a phenomenon called andropause.
Like his female counterpart, the “menopausal” man may experience mood swings or irritability, thinning hair, loss of bone density, sleeplessness, weight gain due to shifting metabolism, and various sexual problems like decline in libido, difficulty achieving or maintaining erections, less than rigid erections, and decreased sensation. Yet, for a couple of reasons, male menopause has not received the same attention as female menopause, nor has help dealing with the symptoms been as easy to come by.
When a woman experiences menopause, the most obvious sign of her fertility– her monthly cycle– ceases. This is obvious and measurable. Also, women are typically more open about discussing problems and willing to seek help from professionals and from peers. Men’s symptoms, on the other hand, are usually subtle and less noticeable. In addition, men are often expected to maintain a stoic attitude about problems they may be having. Men are less likely to consult with their physicians about symptoms that don’t seem life-threatening. It’s unfortunate that male menopause isn’t addressed with doctors, since there are steps a man can take to make his transition into his golden years more comfortable.
If people are aware of male menopause, that is, andropause, they are likely to believe it’s caused by a decline in testosterone. While the decline in testosterone levels is part of the problem, the whole situation is much more complicated than that. There is a mix of hormones and proteins in the male system that must be kept in balance for sexual health and optimal functionality. It’s the disruption of this balance as the man ages that is responsible for the symptoms of male menopause.
For this reason, simply treating the menopausal man with testosterone may not be enough. Experts recommend that men dealing with shifting hormones should exercise, adhere to a healthy diet, monitor alcohol intake, and refrain from smoking. In addition, there are certain formulas men can take to readjust the balance of hormones necessary for well-being. Some of these treatments are by prescription only, while others are more along the herbal lines of treatment, and may be gotten without a doctor’s prescription.
A menopausal male should follow the same plan of attack as women have for decades: he should take care of himself, familiarize himself with what is going on inside his body, confide in friends who are experiencing the same symptoms, and consult a professional for advice on medication or supplements to address the imbalance in his aging body. Then he will be able to sail through his own change of life knowing that he has done all he can to help himself.
And ... Don't forget to have fun!