May 29, 2012

Does the male menopause exist?


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 sexual appetite, self-esteem and physical strength — truly have any medical grounding or is it merely a symptom of middle-age? This guide takes a look at the myths and truths surrounding the causes of the male menopause.

If you’re feeling tired and moody, with little sexual appetite for the scores of nubile women throwing themselves at your feet, you might be wondering if there’s something inherently wrong with you. Gone are the days when you’d happily leap into bed with a bronzed beauty (if only!), or stay up late, playing obscure records until the early hours of the morning. Nowadays, you’re more likely to be tucked beneath your quilt by 9pm, willing the neighbours’ kids to lower their voices. 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 ...

  • Lack of sexual appetite 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.