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Male Menopause, Does It Really Exist?

Female menopause is very common and has been known about for a very long time, but it has been only recently discovered within the last ten years that men also go through very similar symptoms that are almost identical to a woman's.

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A MEDICAL DEBATE: The medical community has been debating the existence of male menopause for a considerable period of time. The questions is does it really exist?, If so, what effects does it have on men? What are the symptoms? Is it treatable? And what can a man do to prevent or postpone its arrival? And finally what is the similarity to a female menopause?

Can this just be a figment of imagination? Can the symptoms just be a dramatization of known facts about women's menopause? Or can this just be a non existent entity? Can this just be a feminists activity to emasculate men?

Only until recently, the entire subject of the male menopause was filled with confusion and controversy. While women were accused of going through middle-aged crisis and menopause-related aberrations, their male counterparts got away with propagating the myth of the 'ageless male' and boasted of virility all the way to their graves.

SO WHO DOES IT EFFECT ? It would seem reasonable to assume that as a man ages, the body changes and medical evidence clearly proves that a man's sexuality changes with the advancing aging process. The instant, anytime, 'as many times as you want' erections that are more the rule rather than the exception at age 18, do not last forever. With advancing age, the urge slows down, erections take time to come on, anytime is not a good time and the penis requires more direct stimulation in order to get aroused. And besides, the erections may not be as rigid and firm, and ejaculations become more feeble. The over all recovery period gets prolonged.

The masturbation process has been blamed and so has the viewpoint that a middle aged man has had enough sex so as to not be so preoccupied with it any longer? Could it be that his wife has aged a bit and she is no longer as physically attractive or interested as before? Or is it because of the physical and mental pressures of the job, or the demands of parenthood, pre-occupation with the lives of grown-up children or aging parents?   ™
See Aging & Sexuality

Yes say doctor's, there is something known as a mid-life crisis. This is often a time in life when stability has been achieved and the struggles that were once a large part of life are now at an end. This new awareness that a life change has taken place can sometimes trigger a crisis. For some men, new found stability may signify an end to vitality or youth. Many men find that after spending a lifetime working towards the goals of family and peers, the end result is unfulfilling. This is also often a time of change. Major shifts in career, marriage and parenting often occurs during this time period.. And, along with the physical signs of aging comes realization of impending old age and retirement. This time of life will only become a crisis if the changes become too difficult to cope with. 

So, mid -life crisis, thus, is essentially a problem of psycho-social adjustments, diet, life style modification and activity level's and attitude towards self and others. It need not necessarily have a bearing on a man's sex life. It is then not synonymous with the male menopause although there is frequently a superimposition of male menopausal factors in middle-aged men going through crises and this makes the picture some what hazy. Sometimes referred to as the baby boomer curse which even adds more confusion to understanding the actual problem. 
[See Menopause, Androgens & Testosterone]

WHAT IS MALE MENOPAUSE? Male menopause, is a distinct physiological phenomenon that is in many way's very similar to, yet in some ways quite different from the female menopause.

Menopause is a condition most often associated with women, It occurs in a women when she ceases to menstruate and can no longer become pregnant. Men experience a different type of 'menopause' of life change. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 60. Unlike women, men can continue to father children, but the production of the male sex hormone (testosterone) diminishes gradually after age 40.

Testosterone is the hormone that stimulates sexual development in the male infant, bone and muscle growth in adult males, and is responsible for sexual drive. It has been found that even in healthy men, by the age the 50's, the amount of testosterone secreted into the bloodstream is significantly lower than it is just ten - fifteen years earlier. In fact, by age 80, most male hormone levels decrease to pre-puberty levels.  [See Menopause, Androgens & Testosterone]

In the year 1944, what we now describe as the male menopause was reported in a key article by two American doctors, Dr. Carl Heller and Dr. Gordon Myers. They compared the symptoms with those of the female menopause, and did a blind controlled trial study showing the effectiveness of testosterone treatment.

Unfortunately, like many pioneering efforts, this went unnoticed. Men were unwilling to accept that they could attain 'menopause' and such research was often hurriedly brushed under the carpet. Men with genuine symptoms were told that 'this is just a mid-life crisis' Besides, testosterone therapy had come into disrepute because of its abuse by athletes and the concept of testosterone replacement therapy for male menopausal symptoms was not received very well. Further, there was much hype about the side effects of testosterone, especially prostate cancer.

It was only after HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) with estrogens produced tangible symptomatic improvement and 'aging reversal' in post-menopausal women that men sat up and, not wanting to get left behind their womenfolk, began to take notice! [See Estrogen]

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS? The symptoms of male menopause are not as overwhelming as the ones women experience and male menopause does not affect all men. Approximately 40% of men between 40 and 60 years of age will experience some degree of lethargy, depression, increased irritability, mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia, decreased libido, weakness, loss of both lean body mass and bone mass (making them susceptible to hip fractures) and difficulty in attaining and sustaining erections (impotence). [See Hot Flashes]

For these individuals, such unanticipated physical and psychological changes can be a major cause for concern or even crisis. Without and understanding partner, these problems may result in a powerful combination of anxieties and doubts, which can lead to total impotence and sexual frustration.

A recent aging study showed that 51% of normal, healthy males aged 40 to 70 experience some degree of impotence - defined as a persistent problem attaining and maintaining an erection rigid enough for sexual intercourse. This problem cannot be attributed to the aging process alone, however, because well over 40% of males remain sexually active at 70 years of age and beyond. [See Aging & Sexuality]   Improved Semen Study

DO YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS?                     

  •    Decrease in sex drive

  •    Lack of energy

  •    Decrease in strength and or endurance

  •    Loss of height

  •    Decreased "enjoyment of life"

  •    Sad and or grumpy

  •    Erections less strong

  •    Deterioration in sports ability

  •    Falling asleep after dinner meal

  •    Decreased work performance

  •    Mood swings

Although all the causes of male menopause have not been fully researched, some factors that are known to contribute to this condition are hormone deficiencies, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, hypertension, prescription and non prescription medications, poor diet, lack of exercise, poor circulation, and psychological problems. A general decline in potency at mid-life can be expected in a significant proportion of the male population. 

Urology Vol 55 Issue 4 (April 2000) 598-602

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