What is male menopause and does it actually exist? The answers depend on which doctor you talk to. Men definitely go through hormonal changes later in life (especially lowering of testosterone levels), although the age of onset seems to differ from man to man. The main difference in male menopause than female menopause is that men still remain fertile after wards while women’s child bearing days are over.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that “andropause” is a much more accurate name than “male menopause.” But men do not really care what it is called – only if it can be treated. Usually, it can.
The majority of men who get male menopause are anywhere from 45 to 70 years of age. Men do not get the dramatic symptoms that women get when they hit menopause, such as night sweats and hot flashes. The four main symptoms of male menopause are:
1. Sudden depression (especially if the man has no prior history of depression)
2. Constant fatigue for no apparent reason
3. Bodily weakness, again for no apparent reason
4. Sexual dysfunctions such as lack of desire or impotency
Please note that a combination of these symptoms can also be the warning signs of Type II diabetes. If you experience these symptoms, you really need to go see your doctor. They often will not get better if you just ignore them. In the case of diabetes, you could risk your life by ignoring these symptoms. Blood tests and a physical exam can help make a proper diagnosis. The sooner you can be diagnosed, the sooner you can get treatment.
Can You Avoid It?
Since the very existence of male menopause or andropause is a subject of debate, so is the theory that all men will get andropause like all women get menopause. There are some doctors who say that if you eat a sensible diet, don’t smoke, exercise regularly and have beneficial ways of relieving stress, then you should be able to avoid the worse of the symptoms and may not need to pursue treatment.
But if you have the symptoms of male menopause, there’s a good chance you need treatment in order to feel relatively normal again. Conventional treatment includes hormone replacement therapy (for the loss of testosterone). Many doctors have reported that their patients improve with testosterone replacement therapy. However, there is a concern that testosterone replacement therapy can predispose you to prostate caner.
Men with male menopause may also be prescribed antidepressants in order to help deal with the emotional aspects of their condition.
Alternative treatments for male menopause focus on long-term lifestyle changes rather than any miracle pill. The patient is urged to:
1. Stop smoking
2. Stop drinking more than two alcoholic beverages per day
3. Do regular gentle exercise such as walking, yoga or swimming
4. Eat a sensible low-fat diet
5. Stop relying on chemicals in order to force your body to relax and learn other gentle ways of stress management such as meditation or listening to music
Alternative treatments for depression and lack of libido include herbalism, aromatherapy and acupuncture.
Mayo Clinic. “Male Menopause: Myth or Reality?” http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/male-menopause/MC00058
MSNBC.com. “Are men experiencing male menopause?” September 13, 2010. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39148778
Andropause Canada. “Is Male Menopause a Myth?” http://www.andropausecanada.com/
Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “Andropause.” http://www.hmc.psu.edu/healthinfo/a/andropause.htm