THE MALE MENOPAUSE

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT -

THE MAS­CU­LINE coun­ter­part to the fe­male menopause is called the an­dropause. While it may not be as ob­vi­ous or as ex­treme an event as menopause, men do suf­fer from de­clin­ing hor­mone lev­els as they age. In women, their sex hor­mones rapidly de­cline in midlife, usu­ally in their late 40s and 50s. In men, their hor­mone lev­els also fall with age, start­ing ear­lier, by their 30s, but much more grad­u­ally. As one doc­tor puts it, “Women fall off a cliff while men sort of roll down the hill.”

THE MALE HOR­MONE – TESTOS­TERONE

Sev­eral hor­mones known as an­dro­gens cre­ate and sup­port mas­culin­ity, but the most im­por­tant one is testos­terone, which is pri­mar­ily re­spon­si­ble for, among other things:

In­flu­enc­ing be­fore birth the baby’s later sex­ual pref­er­ence.

Reg­u­lat­ing the sex drive in men (and in women).

The devel­op­ment of male sex­ual char­ac­ter­is­tics, in­clud­ing dom­i­nance, emo­tional and phys­i­cal strength, body shape, hairi­ness, deep voice, and even odour.

Con­trol­ling the pro­duc­tion and qual­ity of sperm.

Testos­terone plays a role in de­vel­op­ing cre­ativ­ity, in­tel­lect, thought pat­terns, as­sertive­ness and drive, as well as the abil­ity to con­ceive new ideas and suc­cess­fully carry them through. It also af­fects gen­eral health from child­hood, through ado­les­cence and dur­ing adult­hood.

Testos­terone is pri­mar­ily pro­duced in the tes­ti­cles. Af­ter the age of 30, a man may lose up to two per cent of the func­tion of the tes­ti­cles with each suc­ceed­ing year. In fact, af­ter age 50, up to 50 per cent of healthy men have low lev­els of testos­terone.

With fall­ing testos­terone lev­els, a man’s abil­ity to en­joy sex de­clines. In ad­di­tion to a low­er­ing of sex­ual de­sire and erec­tile func­tion, men with low testos­terone lev­els may also no­tice changes in mood and emo­tions, a de­crease in body mass and strength due to loss of mus­cle tis­sue, and an in­crease in body fat. The fol­low­ing ques­tion­naire is use­ful:

IIIIADAM – THE AGE­ING MALE QUES­TION­NAIRE

1. Has your li­bido (sex drive)

de­clined? Yes No 2. Do you have a lack of

en­ergy? Yes No 3. Has your strength and/or

en­durance de­creased? Yes No 4. Have you lost height? Yes No 5. Have you no­ticed a de­creased

“en­joy­ment of life”? Yes No 6. Are you sad and/or grumpy?

Yes No 7. Are your erec­tions weaker?

Yes No 8. Is there de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in your

abil­ity to play sports? Yes No 9. Do you of­ten fall asleep af­ter

din­ner? Yes No 10. Has your work per­for­mance de­clined? Yes No If you an­swer ‘Yes’ to five or more of the ques­tions above, you may well be hav­ing low testos­terone lev­els.

COM­MON SIGNS AND RISKS

The typ­i­cal de­scrip­tion of a man go­ing through this process of­ten sounds like this: ‘Over the years, he has grown more ir­ri­ta­ble, more de­pressed, heav­ier, more lethar­gic, and much less in­ter­ested in sex.’

There are also ad­di­tional health risks as­so­ci­ated with low testos­terone lev­els. These in­clude el­e­vated choles­terol lev­els, heart disease, bone frac­tures, and clin­i­cal de­pres­sion.

AC­TION PLAN

For the man who is con­cerned about the an­dropause, have a thor­ough med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion done by your doc­tor. Re­quest a male hor­monal panel blood test for free testos­terone, plus the fe­male hor­mones oe­stro­gen and pro­ges­terone, along with another key hor­mone, DHEA.

Life­style changes: Sev­eral life­style changes can im­prove testos­terone lev­els. They in­clude: cor­rect­ing ab­dom­i­nal obe­sity; op­ti­mal di­etary pro­tein; reg­u­lar ex­er­cise, par­tic­u­larly re­sis­tance ex­er­cise and in­ter­val train­ing; rest­ful sleep; healthy stress man­age­ment; and reg­u­lar sun­bathing.

Sup­ple­ments: Sev­eral herbal sup­ple­ments help to boost testos­terone lev­els. The long list in­cludes Gin­seng, sting­ing net­tle, saw pal­metto, horny goat weed, maca, tribu­lus ter­restris, chrysin, vel­vet antler, tongkat ali, ash­wa­gandha, muira puama, rho­di­ola, and ginger. These are avail­able at health-food stores.

Hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy: Hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy (HRT) is a pow­er­ful in­ter­ven­tion in deal­ing with the an­dropause as it of­ten pro­duces a sig­nif­i­cant and dra­matic im­prove­ment in the symp­toms and a re­duc­tion in the med­i­cal risks. HRT should be un­der­taken in a sci­en­tific man­ner fol­low­ing some ba­sic prin­ci­ples:

Use: Bio-iden­ti­cal hor­mones. Low hor­mone lev­els can be safely cor­rected by ad­min­is­ter­ing the right dosages of the spe­cific hor­mone that is de­fi­cient in the body and not with a syn­thetic drug. This is called bio-iden­ti­cal hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy. Testos­terone can be re­placed by in­jec­tions, skin patches, creams or gels.

Mon­i­tor: Pe­ri­od­i­cally re­peat the blood test, and if nec­es­sary, ad­just the dosage of the hor­mone be­ing given. If these guide­lines are fol­lowed, then HRT is ex­tremely safe and ef­fec­tive, with a pow­er­ful an­ti­age­ing ben­e­fit.

If DHEA (another hor­mone the body uses to make testos­terone) is also low, then DHEA can be taken to help el­e­vate testos­terone lev­els. If the fe­male hor­mone oe­stro­gen or pro­ges­terone is im­bal­anced, this should also be cor­rected.

Detoxify: The mod­ern en­vi­ron­ment is badly pol­luted with chem­i­cals. Many have pow­er­ful hor­monal ef­fects and act like the fe­male hor­mone oe­stro­gen. This makes testos­terone de­fi­ciency worse. Avoid ex­po­sure to tox­ins and harm­ful chem­i­cals as much as pos­si­ble and con­sider a detox­i­fi­ca­tion pro­gram. This helps to cor­rect hor­monal im­bal­ance.

The an­dropause does not have to be the be­gin­ning of the end, but rather, it may be the passage to a pas­sion­ate, pur­pose­ful, and re­ward­ing time of a man’s life.

For the man who is con­cerned about the an­dropause, have a thor­ough med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion done by your doc­tor. Re­quest a male hor­monal panel blood test for free testos­terone, plus the fe­male hor­mones oe­stro­gen and pro­ges­terone, along with another key hor­mone, DHEA.

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