Male menopause, also known as viropause or andropause, begins with hormonal, physiological and chemical changes in men usually between the ages of forty and fifty-five but can occur as early as age thirty-five. In some, it can come as late as age sixty-five, but it does happen to all men. Male menopause is the maturing man's dilemma. This is not a subject men care to think about and some refuse to even believe it is real, but it is.
The medical profession seems to think that loss of drive after thirty-five are normal, but it is not. Age related degradation of strength, nerves, libido and almost all bodily functions is really unnecessary and almost completely preventable. So many men experience male menopause but never will they talk about it! Yet, they should speak openly to other men and women about this vital life passage.
The changes that occur in men can and most often do, affect every aspect of their lives. Male menopause is known as a physical condition and manifests in psychological, personal, social and spiritual dimensions.
Many men fear male menopause is the beginning of the end for them, but it really isn't. One could say rather, it is the end of the beginning! It does have a purpose and that purpose is to signal the end of the first part of a man's life and prepare him for the second half. This second half is, in most men, the most powerful, productive and purposeful time of his life.
The United States has about 25,172,000 men between the ages of forty and fifty-five. Most of these men are now going through their stage of male menopause. Worldwide, that number is about 408 million! By the year 2020, that will rise to approximately 57,500,000 in the United States and 690 million men in the United States.
How does a male know if he is in male menopause? Well, there are some symptoms to be aware of. Some are physical, some are psychological and some are sexual. Following are the most common for each category.
- Recovery from injuries and illness takes longer than it used to
- Hair loss or thinning
- Slow down in endurance for physical activity
- Weight gain and what women often refer to as "feeling fat"
- The need for reading glasses
- Sleep disturbances
- Anxiety and/or fear
- Irritable more often
- Trouble making decisions
- Loss of self-confidence
- Feeling you've lost your purpose and direction in life
- Feelings of loneliness and not being loved
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling unattractive
- Reduced interest in sex
- Fear of becoming impotent
- Fantasies about sex with younger partners
- Problems in current relationships and/or fighting over sex and intimacy
- Loss of erection during intimacy
Sex and Male Menopause
There are seven sexual changes that occur in healthy, normal men as they age. They are as follows:
- Erections take longer to occur.
- More physical stimulation is required to get an erection. Visual seduction may not arouse as it may have when younger. (This is often referred to as maturing and having more common sense, so it's really a good thing).
- Full erection may not be quite as firm as it once was
- The urge to ejaculate is not as urgent as before. There can also be times the urge to ejaculate won't be felt at all.
- The force of an orgasm isn't as strong as it once was. The amount of ejaculate is lessened and sperm may be fewer.
- Desire to masturbate could increase or decrease. It varies in men.
- The testicles shrink some and the scrotal sack droops.
Some men can have significant problems with impotence during this period of their lives. Impotence is defined as the persistent inability to attain and maintain an erection adequate to permit satisfactory sexual performance.
Physical factors are most significant with the problem of impotence, but psychological factors play a goodly share as men age. Among the physical factors is a high correlation between erection dysfunction and heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and the medications taken for these physical ailments all play a role in impotence.
This may sound dismal on the surface, but with the physical, psychological and sexual aspects all being interconnected, most symptoms can be prevented and treated.
Hormones, Male PMS, and Health Problems
Men going through male menopause have hormonal changes that greatly affect them. Levels will lower at mid-life and are central to the changes associated with male menopause. It is important to note that each man is unique and individual levels vary widely. The hormones that change are:
- Growth hormone
- Thyroid hormone
The lowering levels of these hormones can cause the decrease in sex drive and general well being and health. This occurrence can also increase depression and weight gain.
Research is being done to allow men to remain vital and healthy into the sixties, seventies, eighties and beyond. Replacement hormones play a key role but men should be careful about taking them. They should only do so under close supervision of a trusted doctor specializing in this field.
Like women, men do experience complex hormonal fluctuations that affect their sexuality, mood and temperament. There have been five different testosterone cycles in men. Those are:
- Rhythmic fluctuations three to four times an hour
- Daily changes. Testosterone is higher in the morning and lower in the afternoon.
- Monthly fluctuations that are rhythmic, but different for each man.
- Yearly fluctuations with levels higher in October and lower in April.
As men get older, levels associated with male menopause decrease.
It is interesting to note that men will have physical and emotional reactions to the hormonal changes that are similar to those of PMS in women. Women and men are more alike than different during mid-life. A recent study gave men a checklist of symptoms that came from a typical PMS questionnaire. They, of course, left out the obvious female symptoms, but typical symptoms that remained on the list were:
- Changes in energy levels
- Other negative moods
- Back pain
You Can Beat Male Menopause
There are ways for men to help themselves beat male menopause. Highly recommended suggestions are:
- Eat right! Limit animal foods, avoid dairy products, eat vegetables, fruits, beans, rice and grains.
- Stay physically fit. Maintain good exercise habits that include aerobic endurance and muscular strength, flexibility and endurance.
- Take vitamins and supplements for health - within reason. Vitamin E, natural only, is always a good vitamin to take regularly, as is vitamin C. Try to get most of your nutrients from your diet, but a couple supplements or a multivitamin every day could help.
- Get your regular check-ups! Men are good at avoiding doctors. They make 130 million fewer doctor visits per year than women do! Regular check ups and screenings can do wonders for health and longevity.
- Get hormone levels checked periodically as you age. Generally important hormones in a man's body begin to decline between the ages of forty and fifty-five.
- Reduce stress in your life. Stress is trouble all the way around - for everyone - but can be a major source of trouble for men at mid-life.
- Embrace the sexuality changes that occur. Expand them to include more emphasis on friendship, love and intimacy. This can prove to be better and can do wonders for a man emotionally.
See also: Male Sexual Health