Much is being made in the press of the Menopause (at long last). There’s also a growing movement suggesting that Men go through something similar – a ‘Manopause’ if you will.
Our initial reaction to this was to roll our eyes and ignore what on the surface seems like nonsense. Typical bloody blokes, can’t let us have anything without needing something worse… But there are some interesting pieces of research suggesting it may be true.
Not a menopause in the conventional sense. Men don’t have ovaries, so they can’t menstruate and can’t stop menstruating. They don’t get hot flushes and they won’t experience the same severity of symptoms as women.
All menstruating women will eventually find their periods stop and they’re no longer fertile. This is the biggest argument against the existence of a male change.
Instead, men go through something being termed the ‘Andropause’. Up to half of men over 50 struggles with falling testosterone levels, thought to lead to a range of conditions like mood swings and erectile issues.
It differs in that there’s no set time frame. Menopause is categorized in two ways:
Peri-menopause (when hormone levels begin to change, and symptoms begin)
Menopause (the time when there has been no menstruation for 12 months and no other cause can be identified)
For men the process is just ongoing, there’s no event that marks its start or end.
There’s much debate over the impact of this loss of testosterone though. Many scientists doubt its impact on the male physiology, although it clearly affects the mood. The same loss is seen in those with diabetes, so it’s not easy to assess how many men go through it or why.
All menstruating women will eventually find their periods stop and they’re no longer fertile. This is the biggest argument against the existence of a male change. Men can continue to produce sperm and therefore procreate often into their 80s and beyond.
Much of the argument depends on defining what menopause is, but it’s certainly factual that entering old age can have a negative or challenging impact on men. To get diagnosed is difficult. It’s a matter of testing the blood levels, but lots of doctors don’t believe in the condition so often won’t refer for it.
Whether it exists or not, men do report experiencing the same loss of confidence and societal perceptions as us women. Philipp, 56, said:
“I’ve been successful since I left school. My drive and ambition have never waned and nor has my determination to remain fit and healthy.
It would appear that the male menopause may be more psychologically tied to the process of ageing rather than an actual physiological shift
“I’m more than aware though of the dozens of younger competitors coming through, all keen to take my job and many believing that I’m an old man, rather than a valuable resource.
“I’ve seen so many colleagues eased out of the business before they were ready. I’m nowhere near wanting to retire, but I’m afraid the choice will be taken out of my hands”.
Many men also struggle with the loss of libido or infertility. Especially if they have a partner who is still active, this can lead to feelings of frustration and feeling ‘emasculated’. The old adage of the ‘mid-life crisis’ often happens around this time.
It would appear that the male menopause may be more psychologically tied to the process of ageing rather than an actual physiological shift, however, it’s clear that regardless of gender, ageing in a society that doesn’t value the old or infertile is a challenge for many.