Everyone is familiar with the term menopause – the time in a woman’s life where menstrual activity comes to a grinding halt and hormone levels drastically plummet; a time of hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue and mental depression. But, menopause in men?
Medical professionals agree, in fact, that there is a change in men as they advance in years. It’s the cause that opens the door for controversy.
In actuality, there are medical terms for male menopause – andropause or viropause. But is it hormonal in nature? Some experts say yes, there is justification to prove the male equivalent of menopause is due to a decrease in the male hormone testosterone. However, medical studies suggest men do not experience the drastic drop in hormone levels like women. In fact, some men have testosterone levels comparable to a 20 year old well into their seventies!
Physicians do acknowledge many men experience similar symptoms found in menopausal women, such as flushing or hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings and depressive moods, but often contribute it to psychological complication. Many people commonly refer to it as a “mid life crisis”!
As we age, it is sometimes difficult to deal with all the changes that may be occurring in life – perhaps you suddenly realize you are dissatisfied with your job or that your career will go no further; or maybe the kids are grown and living their own life and for the first time the term “empty nest” takes on a whole new meaning – hidden disharmony with your spouse becomes prevalent once your marriage can finally get the attention it deserves. Youth is just a fleeting memory and the future is filled with uncertainty.
Men are just as vulnerable to life changes as women. But whatever the reasoning behind it, it’s a fact that men go through changes as they age.
Risks and Symptoms of Male-Related Menopause
There are several factors that may increase the risk of experiencing these mid life symptoms, most of which are under your own control. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, for example, may pave the way for this condition. Other risk factors include things like poor diet, lack of exercise and the use of prescription or non-prescription drugs. Medical conditions that may affect its onset include high blood pressure and poor circulation. Underlying psychotic conditions may also exacerbate symptoms, especially if left untreated.
The symptoms associated with this change of life can be variable – there is no set age or circumstance that can be attributed to its onset. And symptoms may be constant or intermittent, severe or just a passing nuisance. Many are similar to female menopause:
– Fatigue Hot flashes/flushing
– Irritability General aches and pains
– Low mood Change in body shape
– Depression Decrease muscle mass
What Can You Do
As with women, men should seek qualified medical advise from their physician. Due to the controversial causes of this condition, a comprehensive medical and psychological evaluation may be necessary to ease troubling symptoms.
Some believe hormonal replacement therapy, used by many women to ease discomforts (women lack the female hormone estrogen) may be an option, but a word of caution: only around 13% of those men experiencing this condition have a decrease in the male hormone testosterone. And, taken orally, testosterone can be toxic to your heart and liver.
As with any condition, medical or psychological in nature, seeking professional help may be the difference between suffering and coping. You should never ignore physical or mental changes, as they may be a sign of an underlying disease or condition.
There’s no shame in admitting that perhaps just coping with getting on in years is an issue. We all have a breaking point. But the most important thing is to rule out any serious medical condition, not to mention, the ability to live a full, happy life, no matter what the age!