Tuesday 23 April 2013

The myths and realities surrounding male menopause

The male menopause has long been a subject of scientific debate. But does the condition — which is said to reduce sex drive, self-esteem and physical strength — truly have any medical grounding or is it merely a symptom of middle-age? We take a look at the myths and truths surrounding the causes of the male menopause.
If you’re feeling tired and moody and your sex drive is low, you might be wondering if there’s something inherently wrong with you. So what’s going on? It could be that you’re going through the male menopause …
Falling testosterone in middle-age
The question of whether a male menopause actually exists has long been a source of scientific discussion. Technically, men can’t experience the menopause per se, as this condition specifically relates to the moment when women of a certain age stop having their periods. Nevertheless, many of the side-effects associated with the female menopause are equally apparent amongst aging men. Depression, achy muscles and even increased body weight can prove highly troubling to males in their mid-40s onwards.

Scientists have dubbed male menopause the ‘andropause’. The feelings of malaise, physical weakness and low self-esteem stemming from this condition are caused by a gradual drop in testosterone levels, similar to the fall in hormones experienced by menopausal women. Though the majority of middle-aged men remain unaffected, the andropause can exacerbate a mid-life crisis in a variety of troubling ways.
Symptoms of the andropause
 As men grow older, their testosterone levels gradually fall, potentially causing symptoms of the andropause. These problems can include everything from a weakened sex drive through to full-blown periods of depression …
 ◦Low sex drive and infertility — It won’t be the news that your partner wants to hear, but a fall in testosterone can really dampen your sexual appetite. If you’ve been struggling to raise your enthusiasm in the bedroom (so to speak), or are unable to conceive, it might be time to see your doctor and assess whether the andropause is to blame. Sadly, the damage to your sex drive doesn’t stop there; the male menopause has also been blamed for shrinking testes and loss of pubic hair amongst aging men who are low in testosterone.
 ◦Depleted energy and low motivation — Back in the day, you might have leaped out of bed in the morning, throwing open the curtains before greeting the world with a cocky spring in your step. Nowadays things have changed … you sleep through your alarm clock, lethargically crawl out from under the sheets and then lope into the kitchen to eat another bowl of soggy muesli. Sound familiar? Sadly, your reduced energy and crumbling joie de vivre could be down to the andropause.
The myths and realities surrounding male menopause
 ◦Aching muscles and physical tiredness — As our bodies get older we’re bound to lose some of the physical strength we enjoyed in our youth. However, if your physical capability has rapidly dwindled over a few short months it could be that your falling hormone levels are starting to take their toll. If achy muscles and physical lethargy are beginning to bite, it might be wise to book an appointment with your doctor.
 ◦Depression and moodiness — Low self-esteem and melancholy can be caused by a number of disparate factors. Feelings of misery may stem from stressful work habits, marital problems, or even from your kids growing up and leaving home. However, depression amongst middle-aged men can also stem from the andropause, with a gradual drop in male hormones blamed for mood swings and terminal moping.
How to combat the male menopause
If you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, it could be that you’re suffering from the andropause. So what can be done about this morale-sapping physical and mental condition?
 ◦Leading a healthy and active lifestyle — The most natural way of fighting through the mental and physical frustrations posed by the andropause is to lead a healthier lifestyle. Through nutritious eating and regular exercise, you’ll soon improve problematic aspects of your health, such as flexibility, muscular strength, speed and stamina. By enjoying sports and gym workouts, and eating food high in vital minerals, you may also alleviate depression by blowing away the cobwebs from your mind.
 ◦Seeking medical advice — If you’re really struggling with certain elements of your mid-life health, it might be an idea to seek out some medical advice from your doctor. Conditions such as impotency can be solved through prescribed medications, whilst physicians also offer a valuable source of dietary and exercise guidance.
 ◦Using therapy to conquer depression — Middle-aged men suffering from the mental strain of the andropause should seek therapeutic help if they feel it’s appropriate. If you’re burdened with the weight of stress or depression, don’t bottle up your negative feelings. Instead, talk to a therapist or even a trusted friend and you might just relieve some of the emotional baggage.
Identifying the male menopause
The andropause is clearly a very serious condition. However, before you rush out to buy a book shelf full of self-help books on tackling the male menopause, it’s important you get a second opinion to ensure you’re genuinely suffering from it. Conditions with similar symptoms include anaemia, thyroid gland illness and even alcoholism, so get a second opinion to fully assess your situation.
Even if your problems do appear to stem from the andropause, it’s far from the end of the world … Getting through this tricky mid-life transition may prove challenging in the short-term but you will beat the blues eventually to live a happier and healthier later life.

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