There is a common misconception that male menopause is just a derogatory term used by women (colloquially sometimes called “man-opause) to explain irritable moods and lack of energy, but as a cognitive neuroscientist and ageing specialist I believe that it is an issue that many 40 to 60 year old men may suffer from and isn’t to be taken lightly.
Women are not the only ones who suffer the effects of changing hormones. Doctors are noticing that men are reporting some of the same symptoms that women experience in menopause but it may not be as well defined. Men do experience a decline in the production of the male hormone testosterone with ageing. Unlike menopause in women, when hormone production stops completely, testosterone decline in men is a slower process. A healthy man may be able to make sperm well into his 80s.”
Other symptoms associated with male menopause may include mood swings, lack of concentration, lack of energy with tiredness, loss of libido and perhaps impotence. These can have a huge impact on a male psyche and signals a major transition in the male brain.
Male menopause is much harder to quantify
This may be due to a sharp decline in hormones aligning with the female menopause, but this isn’t always the case” says Shaw. “These symptoms are age related, which may be due to or exacerbated by stress, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, depression or anxiety from other triggers that may have taken place. Male menopause is much harder to quantify and therefore is often brushed under the carpet.
I recommend that men should seek advice from their GP if symptoms become too much. The GP may suggest antidepressants, cognitive behavioural therapy or a hormone test for levels of testosterone. There are also actions men can take to help themselves and an exercise programme is a good place to start. Eating well is essential as is replacing alcohol and caffeine with plenty of water where possible.
“If lack of sex drive is causing a rift between a man and his partner, it is a good idea to talk. Spend time with one another. Holding hands and hugging will stimulate oxytocin in the brain, which will reignite feelings of closeness and intimacy. The upside is if testosterone is diminishing in the male brain some researchers suggest his response to oxytocin and estragon may now become stronger thus resulting in more nurturing behaviour.”