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Male Menopause or Andropause: Myth or Reality?
Sweaty, sleepless nights. Inexplicable grouchiness. Weight gain. Headaches. No sex drive… If you think these are only for women, well.. you need to know more. And these are not just bad behavior of middle-aged men.
Female menopause has been known for centuries, but it has only recently been discovered that males also go through a similar phenomenon with identical symptoms. The medical profession has long debated the existence of male menopause. Does it really exist? If so, at what age does it affect men? What are the symptoms? What precautions can a man take to prevent/postpone its arrival? How is it similar to/ different from female menopause?
The Facts on Andropause
- As men approach middle age and beyond (40 and older) they may experience a phenomenon similar to female menopause, called Andropause. Unlike women, men do not have a clear-cut external signpost to mark this transition, such as the cessation of menstruation. Both menopause and andropause, however, are characterized by a drop in hormone levels. Estrogen in the female, testosterone in the male. Resulting bodily changes occur gradually in men and may be accompanied by changes in attitude and mood, fatigue, loss of energy, sex drive and physical endurance.
- Studies show that this decline in testosterone can actually put men at risk for other health problems such as heart disease and weak bones. Since all this happens at a time when many men begin to question their values, accomplishments and direction in life, it is often difficult to link the changes that are occurring to more than just external conditions.
- Unlike menopause, which generally occurs in women during their mid-forties to mid-fifties, men’s “transition” may be much more gradual and spread over many decades. Attitude, psychological stress, alcohol abuse, injuries or surgery, medications, obesity and infections can contribute to its onset.
- Older men tend to be closer to their family and are more interested in domestic issues than when they were younger. It is as if the lack of testosterone is making them more “feminine”. They take on more homely roles of cooking, cleaning and looking after children. More often than not, they devote much more time and attention to their grand children than they had previously to their own children when they were parents themselves
Causes of Early Male Menopause
Although all the causes of male menopause have not been fully researched, some factors that are known to contribute to this condition are:
- Hypothalamic sluggishness
- Hormone deficiencies
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Prescription and non-prescription medications
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Poor circulation
- Psychological problems
- Mid-life depression
Symptoms of Androgen Deficiency or Andropause
Circulation and the nervous system
Hot flushes, sweating, insomnia, nervousness.
Mood and cognitive (higher mental) function
Irritability and tiredness, decreased sense of well-being, lack of motivation, low mental energy, difficulty with short-term memory, depression, low self-esteem, being easily frightened.
Masculinity and virility
Decreased vigor and physical energy, diminished muscle strength.
Decreased interest in or desire for sex, less sexual activity, poor erections, reduced quality of orgasm, weakness of ejaculation, reduced volume of ejaculated fluid.
Diminished muscle mass, loss of body hair, abdominal obesity.
Complications associated with andropause include an increased risk of cardiovascular problems and osteoporosis (brittle bones).
Tips to Cope with Change
- Find new ways to relieve stress.
- Eat a nutritious, low-fat, high-fiber diet.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Exercise regularly.
- Find a supportive friend or group and talk to them about what you’re going through.
- Limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
- Drink lots of water.
Natural Treatments for Male Menopause
Exercise is a good thing to do for anyone. It keeps the body’s metabolism strong, preventing mid section bulge. Exercise also helps to stop the decline in testosterone levels. You don’t need to do a lot of activity, just a nice twenty minute walk three times a week can help maintain and control fat buildup. As the pounds decrease, many of the above-mentioned symptoms will diminish eventually eliminating male menopause.
Another natural treatment is to increase your Vitamin C intake. Increasing your Vitamin C intake to 1,000-3,000 mg a day for about a month or two will also prevent testosterone levels going down. Taking vitamins and supplements that work to decrease the levels of free radicals will help protect the pituitary gland that controls hormone production. Increase your daily intake of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower. These vegetables will help break down estrogen levels and prevent it from overtaking testosterone.
The next natural treatment to prevent and eliminate male menopause is to take soy products. Soy will help increase your liver’s ability to process and eliminate excess estrogen, which will leave more testosterone in your system. Drink one cup of soymilk a day. If you don’t like soymilk, you can take 30-50 mgs of the isoflavones supplement a day. One last thing to do is to stop eating grapefruit, which can prevent the liver’s ability to decrease excess estrogen levels.
As many men turn to tomatoes as a preventive measure for prostate cancer, it can also work quite well as a home remedy for male menopause. It is also helpful in relieving many forms of sexual dysfunction that are common with male menopause. It is best to eat tomatoes everyday for the best effects.
To conclude, it may be stated that the andropause does exist. Some call it “man-o-pause” and some experts pefer the term “male climacteric” and abbreviation lovers call it ADAM (Androgen Deficiency in the Ageing Male). However enigmatic the name is, the male menopause is a reality and as Theodore Roosevelt puts it, “Old age is like anything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.”