- Men's Health & Wellness
Andropause, What Is It?
Andropause is referred to as male menopause. It is so named because the body begins to produce insufficient amounts of androgens (male sex hormones). These hormones not only affect a man’s sexual function, but as you will see it effects his physical health, mental health, and even his life. Perhaps the most commonly known symptom of andropause is low testosterone. Often diagnosed as hypogonadism (the failure of the testicles to synthesize testosterone), there is a wide range of causes other than the testicles simply not producing enough testosterone.
An andropausal male my show a wide array of symptoms such as sluggishness, weight gain (especially around the mid section), erectile dysfunction, breast growth (“man boobs” or gynecomastia) and an inability to maintain or build muscle. The last one is especially dangerous when one considers that the heart is simply a muscle which is also subject to decay. Is it any wonder that men usually die on average, seven years younger than women, usually of heart disease. Another unfortunate effect of andropause is that a man may notice that his erections do not last as long as it did in his younger days. This is due to the deterioration of the PC muscle, the muscle which allows a male to “hold off” ejaculation. He may also notice that his ejaculate volume and force has declined over the years. This is very predictable when we realize that ejaculation is nothing more than muscle spasm. According to the manufacturer of adult hygene products, adult diapers are sold in greater numbers to men than women. This is because the bowel movements are held in by muscles as well as the ability to hold urine in the bladder. The deterioration of control over these functions is difficult for a man to accept and damages his psyche on a level that a woman could probably never understand.
As men, we are very aware of our penises. In many ways, it is a very important part of who and what we are. Often times we see our manliness defined by the size and function of our little life long friend. Interestingly enough, the corpus cavernosum (the spongy part of the penis that fills with blood to create an erection) can actually shrink in some instances. This is due to the fact that it is comprised of smooth muscle tissue. A change in the function or appearance of our penis can have a devastating impact on how we view ourselves. The psychological aspects of andropause include depression, social withdrawal, anger or irritability, low self esteem, and embarrassment to admit a problem to our mates and medical professionals.
As our testosterone levels decrease, so does our energy and desire for sex. Sexual failure or anxiety of performance also diminishes our tendency to initiate sexual encounters. It is not uncommon for an andropausal male to change his sexual tastes or begin a systematic pursuit of fantasy and experimentation, mostly due to the belief that his sexual dysfunction is the result of boredom in the bedroom. He may try to spice things up by having an affair, consume pornography or even suggest threesomes to his spouse or partner. His feelings of inadequacy spirals into a deeper and deeper personal hell of self doubt and feelings of obsolescence.
This is further compounded by his lack of attractiveness to the opposite sex. As his physical appearance declines and his waistline grows, his visual appeal to the ladies diminishes . But another interesting thing happens in his swat glands. Pheromone levels decrease. Pheromones are sexual attractants used in nature to attract a mate and signal when mating should happen. They are emitted from the sweat glands and are usually odorless to the opposite sex. These include androsterone, androstenone, androstenidiol, and androstenidione; all of which are the result of the metabolism of androgens (male sex hormones). If there are not enough male sex hormones circulating in the body, then there is a decline in the output of sex pheromones. In some cases, the male body could actually begin producing female pheromones, gaining instant repulsion from most women. Feeling rejected, or simply overlooked, the depression deepens, as does the social withdrawal, creating a person whose very personality renders him even more undesirable to the opposite sex.
Luckily, in most cases the symptoms of andropause, if not andropause itself, can be reversed! If you feel that you may be a sufferer, the most important thing to do is be honest. Be honest with yourself, your spouse and your doctor. Explain to your spouse that there have been some changes in your body and that her support and understanding will be important to you and that with a little patience, she will have the virile young man that she had years ago. Let her know that some of the irritability or pulling away from her that you may have demonstrated is actually the result of a disease that can be corrected. Look for an andropause support group or join in some of the discussion groups on the internet. Reassure her that your lack of interest or poor performance in the bedroom is not a reflection upon her or your desire for her. Women often blame themselves because they simply do not understand the inner workings of the male body. If needed, encourage her to read this article and remind her that you will be there for her during menopause.
Even in the most extreme cases of andropause, if the internal deterioration is not reversible, the outward symptoms are. Only in cases where there is actually testicular damage, sterility may result, even though the actual function of the penis and the mental state of the patient can be restored to a healthy condition.