The stereotype being the man in his forties or fifties who begins coloring his hair, working out at the gym or even beginning an affair with a younger woman. But in more recent times, doctors and therapists have begun to take more seriously the idea that men really are undergoing changes in midlife that are similar to changes in women and have re-named this phenomenon “male menopause”.
Male menopause can put a serious strain on a relationship and has been known to break up many marriages. However, if men and women are both more aware of just what is going on — and what they can do to make it better — this difficult period can be weathered more successfully.
What is Male Menopause?
The first most important step in all of this is recognizing what exactly is going on in a man’s body and what symptoms can result from it.
This problem largely deals with testosterone, and the fact that as men hit middle age, their bodies do not produce as much of it as when they were younger.
This can lead to a whole array of symptoms, since testosterone is not just about sex: it also helps to promote muscle mass and boost both physical and mental energy levels.
As a result, men will often have an array of problems stemming from these low hormone levels, and Healthline notes that although low libido or erectile dysfunction are among these symptoms, it can also cause emotional problems like depression or lack of enjoyment from life, a decrease in muscle strength and physical weakness and a lack of the mental energy they enjoyed in the past. In other words, it is important to look at this problem in regards to a man’s entire life, not just his sex life.
Recognizing the Problem
Why is this issue so hard to recognize? Partly, it is because this menopause phenomenon is different for men than it is for women. For one thing, male menopause doesn’t have the big milestones — like the lack of periods or the end of childbearing years — that mark this passage for women. As a matter of fact, men are able to father children in middle or later years.
The change is more subtle and happens more gradually, which can make it harder to recognize in the first place.
And this means that more men might be suffering from it than anyone realizes. Dr. Damon Raskines, who treats many men with this condition, notes that the Hypogonadism in Men (HIM) study estimated that around 38% of men over 45 have this condition — and that the main complaint they come to the doctor with is not sexual dysfunction but a lack of energy and interest in their lives.
How Relationships can Survive Male Menopause
These changes the men undergo as they hit middle age can put a strain on a marriage or other long-term relationship.
The good news? Male menopause, when recognized and treated seriously, does not have to be a marriage-buster, and there are many different treatment options that couples can undergo to keep their relationship strong even at this challenging time.
These can include:
Healthy lifestyle changes. Reducing stress, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet can also help to restore energy and treat feelings of depression or loss of interest in life.
Hormone replacement. Many men report that, with testosterone replacement therapy, they can be restored to their normal mental and physical energy levels. However, as with women, hormone therapy can bring risks as well as benefits and
Therapy. Couples or individual counselling can also help men and the women who love them to work through the issues that they might be having and come up with solutions to help make difficult situations better.
Alternative medicine. Some men also find that alternative treatments, such as the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine or acupuncture can also help to restore balance and feel more energetic again.
All this combined can help by, as Dr. Raskines puts it, “finding and engaging one’s ‘calling’ in the second half of life”.
So far from being the stuff of jokes, male menopause or “mid-life crisis” is actually a serious situation which can great interfere with a man’s quality of life and do hurt and damage to those around him as well. Fortunately, more doctors, counselors and others are looking at this issue more seriously than in the past — and this is giving men a holistic approach to treating this complicated condition.
“Looks like social media views male menopause and low testosterone not as a cliche but as an issue to take seriously.” – Howard K. 30dB
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