Do Men Go Through Change of Life?
What's Male Menopause?
Many people think that "male menopause" is a contradiction in terms and usually refer to it as a joke to describe a man's midlife crisis.
However, truth be told, there is some validity in this term that accurately describes physiological changes that occur in men similar to midlife changes that occur in women.
Traditionally, women have been the gender that was referred to as going through the "change" which actually meant the change of life. This was a term coined decades ago to describe the time when a woman's ability to conceive or reproduce had ceased.
More succintly though, usually the "change" was referred to when describing certain changes in a woman's personality, her body and even her mental outlook. Most all of these changes have a direct relationship to the decreasing hormone levels in a woman's body.
So why can't men have the same decreasing hormone levels and experience a syndrome very much like menopause in women? They do and in fact, more and more studies are showing that it can be as traumatic and as life-changing an event as it is for women.
One of the main reasons that health care providers and the everyday person haven't given it much thought is because men can go on fathering children well into their 80s, maybe even beyond. For that simple reason alone, much research wasn't really devoted to figuring out how men's bodies change in a very similar fashion to women's as they age.
Aging and Testosterone Levels
Have you ever wondered in the last decade why so many men are on Viagra and Cialis? It's struck me as odd for some that there are all these men who all of a sudden have erectile dysfunction.
Millions of dollars in little blue pills aside, scientists and pathologists have coined the new phrase for male menopause as andropause.
This word sums up what is really at the root of most of these so-called ED problems and why so many men are having a tough time facing the aging process.
Just as in women, men start to experience a decrease in testosterone starting at around age 30. It's estimated that men lose on average at least 1-2% of their testosterone per year after that.
So by the time a man reaches the ripe old age of 50, he's feeling the loss of guy hormones much like women start to miss their girl hormones.
Exactly as it is for women, men also begin to experience physical changes.
While menopause and andropause are of course two different things, in reality, they have some similar symptoms like:
- hair loss
- weight gain--especially in the middle part of the body
- lack of energy
- lack of libido or sex drive
- erectile dysfunction or impotence
- mood swings
- decreased muscle mass
- bone loss or decrease in bone density
- memory loss
- temperature changes--yes men can have cool and hot flushes
Studies also show that low testosterone levels may have an impact on increased morbidity rates from cancer and cardiovascular disease in men.
How Can You Treat Andropause?
Again, much like in the feminine version of decreasing hormonal levels called menopause, andropause can be treated with hormonal therapy--namely testosterone or androgen.
However, the down side of hormonal therapy for men is that it can increase the risk of certain cancers such as prostate cancer. This is an identical parallel to women who take hormonal therapy to combat symptoms of menopause and face the increased risk of breast and uterine cancers.
So what's a man to do?
The answers lie in being honest about feelings and symptoms. Sometimes that's more difficult for men to do than it is for women but it's essential. Talking it over with a medical professional is key and checking blood levels is a great place to start.
Monitoring should be done to keep an eye on bone density to guard against bone loss and risk of factures.
Without hormonal therapy, testosterone levels can be supplemented by natural products such as Provacyl which is a natural supplement in pill form. It doesn't require a prescription because it's an herbal supplement.
Other herbals such as ginkgo biloba and vitamin E are also said to increase sex drive and offer relief of symptoms such as memory loss.
Some foods are said to naturally increase testosterone levels and some lifestyle changes may help as well. See the table below.
Lifestyle modification such as getting appropriate weightbearing, regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, staying at the correct weight, and not drinking, smoking or doing drugs also help fight some of the more prominent symptoms of andropause.
Most of all, being honest about the changes that he feels occurring in his body is the front line treatment for men as they age. Contrary to being a sign of weakness, it's a sign of a man's character when he can admit that he has a physical problem and doesn't relegate it to work stress or a midlife crisis.
No one likes playing "beat the clock" but as we age, there are some simple cold, hard facts that we all have to face. Our bodies don't feel the same way they did 10 or 20 years ago. They don't respond the same way they did at that age either.
Understanding the process is part of the "cure." In order to work on something and make it work better, you have to recognize the symptoms and then formulate a plan of action.
Whether we can in fact reverse all the effects of aging is doubtful, but there's no reason why healthy men can't enjoy a happy, enjoyable lifetime beyond male menopause. The same is true for women.
Lifestyle Changes to Boost Testosterone
- sleep--if deprived of sleep, testosterone levels decrease dramatically the older you get and is the #1 cause for decreased testosterone levels--without good sleep, your body can't rebuild and that includes testosteronekeep a good weight but don't become underweight
- get rid of belly fat but keep it to a slow weight loss--1 or 2 pounds per week
- low-carb high protein diets can affect testosterone negatively
- drinking can kill your testosterone levels--moderation is the key--never more than 2 or 3 drinks per day if you want to keep your testosterone up
- give up smoking--and think about the drugs prescription or otherwise you put into your body--these have a negative effect on testosterone
- skipping meals can have an adverse effect on testosterone so eat regularly
- recommended diets include those high in zinc and monounsaturated fats
- weight lifting is known to build muscle mass but also try jumping rope or other gym exercises
- don't stress the same muscles two days in a row when working out--it stresses muscles and decreases testosterone production--allow recovery time after heavy exercise
- build muscle but instead of many reps, do less reps with more weight
- have morning sex
- use it or lose it--set aside time for regular sexual activity to maintain testosterone levels
- don't cut all the fat from your diet--you need fats to produce testosterone
- regular exercise of at least 1 hour per day--aerobic exercise at least 3 times per week--try cycling, walking, swimming, hiking or running
- do compete--challenge yourself mentally, physically or do something "outside the box" like sky diving or something you've always wanted to do
- avoid negative stress
- got sun? Studies show that vitamin D increases testosterone so make it a point to get out in the sun every day
Foods That Increase Testosterone
- lean beef
- poultry--white meat
- omega 3's--think salmon
- cottage cheese
- brussels sprouts
- nuts--nuts are recommended as a bedtime snack--just a handful of protein packed nuts are said to increase testosterone
- whole grains
- avoid soy! In women, soy is not recommended due to changes in hormone levels and in men soy lowers testosterone levels--there are studies currently ongoing about the high levels of soy in our diets and the health risks associated with it
Think natural state as much as possible, grilled or broiled not fried.
It's said that men over 30 should balance calories between protein, carbs and fats--in that order.
Avoiding carbohydrate packed foods which are also high on the glycemic index and bad for men as they age will help you boost your testosterone.
High protein and moderate levels of fat are necessary for enhancing testosterone which in turns builds muscle--at any age.
Monitoring Testosterone Levels
According to the video below, a testosterone level below 300 can signal the onset of the symptoms of andropause.
Check with your doctor and have standardized testosterone tests. These can easily be added to blood work panels and should be part of routine health maintenance for men along with PSA levels.
Make sure you ask if there are any criteria for lab work, such as not having intercourse for 48 hours before testing, as in the PSA test. Certain levels can be skewed by sexual activity, so it's important to know the facts before you have levels tested.
Even if hormonal therapy is not being used, lab work is a good way to track the aging man's testosterone levels and to also determine what effect, if any, lifestyle modifications and/or diet has on increasing testosterone.
Most importantly, remember that men and women as they age face the same kinds of issues. Being open and honest with your medical provider is a great step towards dealing with decreasing testosterone levels but also realizing that it's a normal part of life...the change of life...is key.
Normal Testosterone Levels According to Quest Diagnostics
Men of Age