The male menopause – does it really exist?
Male menopause…does it exist? It very much depends on whether you’re speaking to a scientist, a man in his 40s/50s or his partner!
There are many symptoms which both women and men in mid-life can share – mood swings, fatigue, night sweats, low libido and that feeling that life is passing you by. Just as oestrogen levels dip in women, so too does testosterone in men, but often in very different ways.
Of course, there’s the usual joke about knowing your man is having a mid-life crisis when he wants to buy a red Ferrari or starts wearing lycra and riding a bike! But it’s no joke when the this leads to man-boobs, feelings of hopelessness or impotence.
You may have herd the term the ‘male menopause’, but this can be misleading suggesting it occurs in a similar fashion to the female menopause, which triggers a sudden drop in certain hormone levels. Whereas, the symptoms of male menopause, sometimes called the andropause, are often a result of lifestyle factors or psychological problems. Testosterone levels do decline in men from the age of 30 or 40, but gradually at around 2% per year which is unlikely to cause any problems.
In some cases, a testosterone deficiency – known as late-onset hypogonadism – can be the cause of the menopause-like symptoms that men encounter. However, this is far less common and needs to be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional.
Exercise and diet will play a huge part in healthy ageing and reducing the symptoms associated to the andropause. Being overweight, sedentary and drinking too much alcohol can lead to health problems such as obesity and type-2 diabetes which increase the risk for late-onset hypogonadism. Lack of sleep, stress, and low self-esteem can often lead to loss of libido, erectile dysfunction and mood swings – it’s not just a drop in testosterone that’s responsible. Impotence might be caused by physical or prostate issues and require medical attention.
The benefits of exercise can lead to improved physical function, better sleep, reduced stress and elevated energy levels and confidence. Taking up a sport that was enjoyed in their younger years can help to reinvigorate your man in his later years. It will also help improve heart health, bone density, aid weight loss and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Similarly, a healthy diet can provide a host of benefits. Top up on Zinc, found in spinach, beef and shellfish, along with Vitamin D, from sunlight in the summer months and supplements during the winter. Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene (especially when cooked), which help maintain a healthy prostate.
The same advice – eat well, drink less, move more – goes for men and women whatever their age, but is even more important as we hit mid-life. Working out together, encouraging each other to eat healthily and talking through turbulent emotions will help your relationship to flourish and show you that whatever menopause you have, you can take control and live your life to the full.