Many of us scoff at the idea of male menopause. We won’t even consider the possibility of something as debilitating as ‘change of life’ happening to us. We’re men after all; strong, powerful and completely in control… until one day things start falling apart. The thing is, male menopause can start with small subtle changes in temperament and behaviour. Finding you no longer enjoy playing blackjack at an online casino or feeling constantly depressed, inadequate and tired can be the first signs that something is amiss.
What Causes Male Menopause?
As with its female counterpart, male menopause is triggered by hormonal changes. From the age of 30 or 40 years the levels of testosterone in our blood start a slow and steady decline. By the time we’re in our seventies our testosterone levels are half that of what they were at our physical peak… which for most of us is around 20 years of age.
The Physical Signs of Male Menopause
Along with emotional changes, our bodies react physically to the sustained regression of the sex hormone. One of the most disturbing symptoms of male menopause, or andropause as it is more commonly known, is erectile dysfunction coupled with a lower libido. The very essence of what makes us male is under attack and the emotional spinoffs are legion – frustration, anger, low self-esteem, helplessness and a feeling of redundancy… both in and out of the sack!
In addition to the sexual onslaught, our body shape changes. Loss of muscle mass means our finely contoured six packs, pecs and triceps grow soft and flabby, our belly fat expands and some of us even get ‘man boobs’. Body hair thins and all but disappears leaving us bereft and naked of all the symbols of masculinity. The end result? An obvious loss of strength that doubles down on all those nasty and self-damaging thoughts in the head.
Unfortunately, that’s not where the physical signs associated with andropause end. Another potentially life changing symptom relates to diminishing bone density. As our bones become less dense they also become more fragile and brittle.
This can lead to osteoporosis which in turn means your bones are more susceptible to cracks and breaks. Then there are the more nuanced side effects of lower testosterone such as insomnia, low energy levels, poor concentration levels and forgetfulness, all of which affect our overall quality of life.
Multiple Risk Factors of Male Menopause
Changes in body shape and bone density drive a host of risk factors. Excess body fat means that the probability of becoming obese and diabetic is sky-high. So too is the likelihood of getting high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke and even cancer.
Decreased bone density equates to an increased risk of fractures and when you factor in diminished quality of life, male menopause is an epic battle that’s fought on diverging fronts.
The Emotional Cost of Andropause
With all its physical changes and dangerous risk factors, andropause is really a silent assault on our emotional well-being. As we are aging and getting progressively weaker, we’re inclined to decline in more ways than one. Obvious red flags associated with male menopause include no longer enjoying the things we loved most like going to the game with friends, playing sport or spending time on a lifelong hobby.
We become irritable and prone to irrational outbursts.We also act impulsively and completely out of character.We have affairs, get divorced and resign from the job in a huff just because of some constructive criticism that wouldn’t usually have had a negative impact on us at all. We’re emotional, fragile and a little unhinged especially when there are younger and stronger men around!
The danger is that as many of us laugh off the idea of change of life, we’re more than happy to treat the symptoms rather than understand and acknowledge the cause. We’ll take the anti-depressants the doctor prescribes and turn to medications like Viagra, Cialis or Levitra to sort out the problems in bed. We’ll become dependent on chemically formulated substances… and some of us will crash and burn.
The Best Way to Treat Male Menopause
Focussing on treating the symptoms of male menopause is not a solution. In fact, it can have devastating effects on our physical and mental health. The first step to wellness is to accept the reality of the changes we’re experiencing as a result of declining testosterone levels… and to age gracefully.
Being aware that we’re acting irrationally will enable us to temper the urge to give up on our marriage, our job, our hobbies and our friends and to focus on all the things we can do rather than on the ones we can’t. Talking to a spiritual counsellor or psychologist is the second step and a great way to lay the foundation on which to build a satisfying life that’s as good if not better than our misspent youth.
Lastly, investigating the pros and cons of testosterone treatment and engaging in a healthy lifestyle will be all the ammunition we’ll need to get to the other side of male menopause with a wink and a smile. Simple things like eating a low-fat diet, partaking in regular exercise, quitting smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation will keep us slim, trim and brimming with energy… well into our senior years!