Why is the term Andropause unfamiliar?
November is Male Health Month and I want to address a little known male condition which occurs at MidLife.
While the female Menopause is notorious, the same cannot be said about the male passage into MidLife: Andropause, which is sometimes referred to as Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome. This very important stage in a man’s life brings with it just as many challenges and yet, while there are countless websites, groups, research, books and articles to support women through the peri-menopause, the actual menopause and then the immediate post-menopausal years, a man has pretty much nowhere to turn for help and information - there seems to be little interest in smoothing men’s journey into middle age and beyond, despite the obvious health implications.
Dramatic hormonal changes from one’s mid-forties onwards herald the coming trials and tribulations of middle-age: primarily oestrogen and progesterone for women, progesterone and testosterone for men – yes, progesterone is not just a female hormone, it is in fact the precursor to testosterone! And as hormone levels drop, they make way for a number of symptoms which are well known in the menopause but which are actually present in the andropause as well. For instance:-
· Aching and/or stiff joints
· Apathy and depression
· Decreased vitality, strength and endurance
· Decreasing muscle mass
· Pale, dry skin
· Diminished energy levels and unremitting fatigue
· Hair loss
· Insomnia and general sleep disturbances
· Loss of libido
· Low self-esteem
· Mood swings and irritability
· Poor memory and concentration
· Rapid ageing
· Thinning bones
· Weight gain – and in all the wrong places!
· Even hot flushes and night sweats
These are just a few examples of symptoms which andropausal men can experience, all of which can lead to loss of productivity, low performance at work, an overall feeling of rapidly losing one’s edge and general poor quality of life as a result of what feels like an all pervasive, mental and physical, utter and absolute exhaustion. Furthermore, dropping testosterone levels are increasingly associated with serious health conditions like osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and dementia.
Natural menopausal therapies have been shown to hugely influence wellbeing in middle-aged women and result in a remission of symptoms, and many of these can equally be applied to middle-aged men. Needless to say, lifestyle changes are hugely important, and an andropausal healing approach needs to include a nutrient-dense diet, specific dietary supplements, movement, sleep, stress-reduction and relaxation, as well as hormonal balance which is an increasing cause for concern.
Men make small amounts of oestrogen, just as women make small amounts of testosterone, and the equilibrium between the two hormones is critical to MidLife health and successful ageing. Too much oestrogen in a man will block the action of testosterone, and unfortunately we are all of us, men and women, being exposed to oestrogenic excess due to the huge and insidious increase in xenoestrogens in our environment. Xenoestrogens are taking over the planet! And it is very difficult indeed to protect oneself from them because they are everywhere. These chemicals are found in everything from pesticides to food containers, toiletries to hormone-treated animal products, household cleaning agents to plastic water bottles - and they mimic oestrogen, blocking the hormone or binding to its receptors, thereby increasing the amount of this more female hormone in the male body and creating oestrogen dominance where there should be testosterone dominance – and unchecked oestrogen levels can lead to serious health conditions, from chronic inflammation to prostate cancer.
Andropause is not a life stage to be feared – or to be denied and ignored. And we need to hear more about it. There ARE solutions, natural, effective solutions which can ensure an easy transition from one juncture over to the next. And they are easy to apply and implement.