Andropause (Male Menopause)
I must admit, I do feel sorry for males going through their mid-life crisis. Women have easy access to loads of information about “the change”, they ask their doctor about it, they share their experiences with their friends and they are not reluctant to try alternative treatments.
Males, approaching age 45-55 years of age may start to experience andropause, the male climacteric, change of life. Many men do not know about it, they think they are “over the hill”, losing it, and that's the way it is. They may not talk about it to their partner, to their doctor or to their friends.
As they age, males may produce less Androgen, hormones, of which testosterone is one. This reduction occurs over a 10 year period and can be diagnosed by a simple blood test. Treatment is simple and if accompanied by some simple life style changes, is very effective.
Not all males go through andropause; only 30-40% experience a drop in testosterone levels.
Males may complain about any or all of these symptoms:
- Fatigue, night sweats, depression, irritability and anger.
- Aching and stiff joints, loss of muscle strength and endurance.
- Reduced libido, inability to attain or maintain an erection, low sex drive, lack of interest in sex, reduced early morning erections, testicular atrophy, irritable bladder, frequency of urination, Palpitations or irregular heart beat.
- Osteoporosis, calcium is coming out of their bones leaving the bone weak and vulnerable to breakage. Most common breaks occur in the arms, wrist, ankles, long bones, hips and spine. I have read statistics the 1.5 males have undiagnosed osteoporosis.
Some of the psychological side effects include:
- Depression, sadness, crying, even contemplating suicide.
- Stress, anxiety, feeling inadequate as a male and at work.
- Being very critical, angry, becoming a “grumpy old man”.
- Forgetful, preoccupied, confused, low mental energy.
- Weight gain, reduced muscle mass and strength, endurance.
- Lethargy, not interested in old friends or favorite pastimes.
Some males become more “androgenous”, gentler, maternal, spiritual, kinder, more loving, more interested in intimacy, sensuality.
Some males go through what is often called the “pink Porsche mentality”. Desperately seeking their lost youth, they have meaningless affairs with a much younger sexy female, they may end their marriages and find a “trophy wife” or become swingers.
- Share your experiences with your family and close friends.
- Talk to your doctor, ask for a simple blood test called a bioavailable testosterone level. If indicated, start on testosterone replacement therapy. This could be a body cream, gel, patch, pill or injection.
- Exercise regularly, foot to ground exercise such as walking, running.
- Reduce alcohol intake and stop smoking.
- Eat healthy, reduce fats and sugars.
- If overweight, lose weight gradually through diet and exercise.
- Reduce your stress levels.
EFFECTS OF ANDROPAUSE ON A RELATIONSHIP
Because a couple may be going through this “climacteric”, change of life at the same time, the effects could be devastating. What was a stable, predictable, loving relationship may suddenly be in chaotic turmoil as both of them experience their fluctuating reactions to the hormone upheaval. They may alternate between depression, poor body image, crankiness, hot flashes and mood swings.
He may be dissatisfied with his job, feel like a failure because he is not a CEO, his kids are now rebellious teenagers and hero daddy is replaced by some rock star. The kids may be entering college, and he suddenly is faced with an empty nest syndrome, realizing that the rest of his life will probably be spent with his wife of 25 years. This may not be an appealing concept.
Another scenario, he, realizing that his work is not the be all and end all, decides he want to reintegrate into the family again, literally “nesting” with “the little woman”.
But “the little woman” has either gone back to work, has an active social life with the girls, or has become very involved in community activities and is not willing to settle for marriage 24-7.
As he enters andropause, the changes in his sexual performance become glaringly obvious. His erections are not as frequent nor are they as rigid and reliable as they used to be. He is bored with “same old same old” but he is intimidated if his partner becomes sexually innovative and frisky. He feels he can't keep up.
But suddenly, with that young flirtatious secretary, he becomes the romantic lover he used to be. That lasts for approximately 6 months, then she becomes disenchanted and critical or demanding. Just like his wife. Again his antennae go up and he is on the prowl for another conquest. This is known as the “Foolish Forties” or “The Second Adolescence”.
If his partner can hang in there for about 12-18 months, this too will pass, but the old status quo has changed, the balance of power has shifted in the relationship. He may have difficulty accepting the new egalitarian partnership.
Couples have a lot invested in this relationship, and I would like to suggest that they see a good marriage counselor/therapist to give them the communication skills for effective conflict resolution so the new relationship can evolve.
For men and women, this “change of life “ can become the common ground where they can join together as friends, partners and lovers.