Several years ago, I met a man, who, from the moment we met, I felt an instant attraction towards. Sweet, thoughtful, with rugged good looks, he was the kind of guy that made it really easy for a woman to fall for, the one you want to bring home to meet your parents! He seemed to have everything that I had ever wanted in a partner, and he even did the dishes! But wait, this is just the beginning of the story, and, like many modern-day fairy-tales, this one does not have a happy ending!
He was older than I, by about a decade, which at the time, made him around 52. We were dating for about 2 years, when I started to notice strange yet subtle changes in his behavior. Initially, he began to cancel dates with me.
As time went on, he would fly off the handle for no reason, and became increasingly argumentative. While we previously were very sexually active, he started making excuses for not wanting sex, and would often-times, initiate an argument just to avoid the bedroom. Additionally, when we did have sex, his erection left, at best, something to be desired.
His moodiness increased and he finally sought medical attention. He was told that he had a testosterone deficiency, and was started on replacement therapy, and eventually felt better. In fact, he felt so much better, that he ended up cheating on me, and the relationship ended shortly thereafter. Hence, how I was introduced to the concept of “male menopause”.
Causes of Male Menopause
Like its female counterpart, male menopause, occurs due to a decrease in sex hormones, and is more common than many people think. The male sex hormone, testosterone, starts to decline in men at a rate of about 1% per year, starting at approximately age 30.
These changes become most evident after the age of 70. Although most men don’t report experiencing symptoms of male menopause until they are over 50, some can begin to develop symptoms as early as age 40.
Testosterone bears the burden of inducing and preserving sexual characteristics of the male. Without it, little boys would probably look and sound more like little girls, as testosterone is also responsible for secondary sex characteristics, such as facial hair and deepening of the voice.
Male Menopause Symptoms
Male menopause symptoms can be extremely disruptive for men, causing them to feel ashamed and embarrassed. Depression, fatigue and irritability can put a damper on social affairs as well as employment and family life. While some men will dismiss it as part of growing older, the decrease in energy and vitality they may feel may prove too difficult to ignore.
What brings many men to the doctor’s office, however, is when symptoms of male menopause involve their performance in the bedroom. Since testosterone is the major sex hormone in males, then it is no surprise that a deficiency of it can cause decreased libido leading to, as I discovered with my previous lover, a somewhat “incomplete” erection or impotence.
And as most of you women out there know, nothing can make a man feel more inadequate than not being able to perform sexually.
Also leading to a source of embarrassment and concern for men, is the decrease in strength and endurance that occurs from testosterone deficiency. Because lowered testosterone can lead to muscle weakness and weight gain, normal, everyday tasks may now become difficult, causing men to feel even more confused and defective.
While occasional bouts of impotence or other symptoms like depression, or low energy are common and may not be related to testosterone deficiency, if the problem persists, a simple blood test may be all a man needs to diagnose the problem and start him on the right track.
Treatment for Male Menopause
Hormone replacement therapy remains the “gold standard” of treatment for symptoms of male menopause. The following forms are available as a method of delivery for testosterone replacement:
1. Injection–Testosterone can be delivered by injection, but the fear and pain of having a shot, can be a real turn off for some men. This method also requires frequent visits to the doctor’s office, as the shots must be delivered by a health care professional.
2. Pills–Most common way of testosterone replacement, and the method most easily “swallowed” if you will!
3. Patch-Convenient patches can be applied topically to the skin and must be replaced daily.
4. Implants-Pellet implants are inserted every 6 months into the stomach, upper arm or buttocks.
Be sure to discuss which method works best for you, with your primary care provider. Remember, as with any medication, there is always risk involved and the potential for bothersome side effects. Your health care provider can review these with you, and it ultimately remains your decision if you choose to embark on the road to recovery with hormone replacement therapy.
The importance of lifestyle changes is paramount to those suffering from low testosterone levels. This includes a healthy, well balanced diet and exercise program to improve health and reduce stress.
Eating more fruits and vegetables and staying away from processed foods, fats and sugars will also prove beneficial. Supplements that may be recommended by your doctor may include Zinc and Vitamin C, as well as a multi-vitamin and mineral tablet. As usual, always make sure to discuss supplements with a health care professional, before taking them.
It is important to note, that while male menopause symptoms can be debilitating for men and their families, treatment options do exist and hope can be rendered to those who suffer.
Men who have the courage to take responsibility for their health, and seek treatment for a condition that may cause undo shame and embarrassment, will be thankful that they did.