Whats in a word? The word “menopause” is something we normally relate to a female’s passage through the reproductive years and into the “better years”, years free of the monthly torment associated with the menstrual cycle.
Women experience “the change” between age 45 and 55. The aging process brings about changes not only in women but also in men.
The obvious physical sign of lack of menses is an obvious give-away that the female is approaching menopause. Males on the other hand undergo a more gradual shift in the aging process.
Males experience the reproductive change involving the connection between the testicles, the hormone testosterone, the brain, and the pituitary.
The female changes involve the pituitary gland and the brain as well as the ovaries. Hers is more abrupt and his is a very gradual change.
The medical community has been debating the presence of male menopause and some refer to it as andropause, which according to Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary, is the “male counterpart of menopause, when the production of testosterone decreases and there are accompanying mental symptoms..
They both refer to the same symptoms the males have regarding aging and they can start experiencing these symptoms as early as 35.
Andropause is also referred to as viropause which simply means “a syndrome associated with a lack of or absence of testosterone” according to Dr Malcolm Carruthers book: Maximising Manhood.
The symptoms of andropause have been stated as being:
- Extreme fatigue
- Joint aches
- Stiffness in hands
- Hot flashes
- Sleep disturbances
- Anger bouts
- Reduced libido
- A reduction in ejaculate
- Premature aging
- Hair and skin changes
There are however other reasons for testicular malfunction such as:
Viral infections (mumps)
Surgical removal of the testis and the male reproductive tract due to hernia repairs, or testicular cancer or even when a vasectomy is performed.
There is also a genetic abnormality that can cause testicular failure known as chromosomal mosaicism.
Heavy smoking can also cause testicular issues
Chemotherapy can have damaging effects upon the testicles
It is rare, but there can be pituitary tumors
Spouses, employers, physicians, psychologists and other health care providers all need to be more aware of the existence of male menopause so that males who suffer from it can receive the support and medical help they need.
It is important for all involved to understand that whether you call it male menopause, andropause or viropause, the condition characterized by the symptoms described earlier are all can be treated and relief given so that men can again enjoy life.
Just as other disease such as thyroid disease and diabetes are treated and lives return to being productive, so those suffering from male menopause can be treated.
The more we know as a society regarding conditions such as this, the more comfortable men will become about seeking medical help so that they can feel better and in turn they can cope better with relationships in home and at work.