21 Jun The Male Menopause
Managing Andropause & the Middle-Age Male Shift Naturally
“Men get menopause too?” My friend’s teenage daughter asked me this recently as we drank herbal tea out in my garden one afternoon in late spring. The tea nearly shot out through my nose. “Well, not exactly,” I replied. I explained that while men definitely go through a change, it doesn’t involve a total shutdown of their reproductive organs.
But that’s not to say that men don’t experience symptoms associated with declining hormones. It’s important to mention up front that just as women’s experience with menopause is subjective, that is, an individual process, so to is a man’s experience with the changes occurring in his body.
Men also go through a natural hormonal shift as they approach middle age. As testosterone sets off on a downward trend, some men experience changes in mood, energy, fatigue, and more. Lifestyle choices impact the severity of symptoms; some men don’t experience any noticeable changes.
This is one of the primary differences between menopause and andropause. Nearly all women experience at least some uncomfortable symptoms as their sex hormones begin to decline.
If you’re a man reading this, you may be experiencing signs or symptoms of andropause, and looking for some information on how to manage them. Women reading this might be doing a private little jig with the knowledge that yes, men too suffer from declining sex hormones.
What is Andropause?
Andropause, or male menopause as it’s commonly referred to, occurs with the onset of age-related changes in male hormone levels. Similar to menopause, andropause is characterized by, but not limited to, physical symptoms like low libido, increased body fat, and decreased body density. Emotional and psychological symptoms may include depression, low self-confidence, difficulty concentrating, and decreased motivation.
It’s interesting to note that this same group of symptoms appears under alternate names like testosterone deficiency and late-onset hypogonadism (a condition characterized by insufficient production of testosterone or sperm or both) (1).
Men experiencing andropause may also suffer from symptoms very much like those that commonly show up from women in menopause: swollen or tender breasts, loss of body hair, or hot flashes. They may also notice a decrease in testicle size.
The Role of Testosterone
Besides maintaining the health of men’s sex organs, what else does testosterone do?
Primarily, testosterone drives many of the most obvious changes that occur for men during puberty. It contributes to their mental and physical energy, hair growth, and lowering of the voice. It also sustains muscle mass, regulates adrenaline, and plays a role in other significant evolutionary features.
As testosterone levels drop at about a rate of 1% per year in the thirties, according to the Mayo Clinic, certain health conditions may cause early onset or more severe andropause.
Managing Andropause Naturally
Some men may be reluctant to seek help for symptoms on the basis of social stigma. Culturally, there seems to be much less acceptance of men airing their emotional, psychological, or physical struggles, particularly if related to declining sex hormones. Many men would prefer to keep such information tightly under wraps.
However, many men can manage symptoms just by making smart lifestyle choices, like eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, getting restorative sleep, and reducing stress as much as possible.
A key way to minimize and help prevent stress is through energy work, like Reiki. This fairly modern modality originating in Japan works with the body’s subtle energy centres and channels. It helps to relieve stagnant energy blocks and restore a vital energetic flow throughout the body.
I have seen significant shifts in men who visit me regularly for Reiki. The process also encourages men to “check-in” with their physical body on a more nuanced level, noticing the less obvious states that are usually running in the background like a modem.
Such a level of mindfulness isn’t just a byproduct of a Reiki session. It also begins to infiltrate their daily lives, bringing greater awareness to their state of being on a moment to moment basis. I know of no better stress management tool than awareness and allowance of our immediate experience. Reiki is an effective and supportive modality for this.
If you’re noticing signs of andropause, and are interested in an alternative, supplementary therapy, give me a call. I use healing modalities like Reiki and Hypnosis to ease symptoms and help men navigate this phase of life with more ease.
I’m located in Durham Region, serving clients in Clarington and surrounding areas. I look forward to hearing from you.