My book, Male Menopause, was first published in 1997. Like all the books I’ve written, the theme developed from conflicts I was having in my personal life. My wife, Carlin, was going through menopause and I was sure that when she got through it all our problems would be solved. I was sure our sexual problems, relationship conflicts, and fears about our future would disappear as soon as she was off the hormonal roller-coaster.
But the reality was different. She got back to her old self, but our problems remained. After one of our many blow-ups she suggested, in her usual kind way, that maybe I was going through some kind of male change of life. I was insulted. It was bad enough that I had to go through her menopause, she wasn’t going to turn me into a she-male going through my own male menopause. No way!
I decided to explore the changes that men go through between the ages of 40 and 55 and prove to her that it was nothing like what women went through. Surely there was no such thing as “male menopause.” At first, my preconceptions were validated. Most doctors and health-care professionals were convinced that men might go through some kind of psychological or social mid-life crisis, but only women had hormonal changes. And of course only women could have an end to their menstrual cycles since only women had menstrual cycles to begin with.
The first shock to my belief that male menopause was a myth came when I got the results from a questionnaire I had developed detailing possible hormonal, psychological, and social changes that men and women experience. I had asked questions about “hot flashes,” sure that this was something only women had. To my surprise, I found that 25% to 35% of the men I surveyed said they had times where they were burning up and had sweats, even when the room was cool.
From there I decided to bite the bullet and do a more in-depth study. Based on the results I wrote three books, Male Menopause, Surviving Male Menopause, and The Irritable Male Syndrome. After years of research I concluded, “Male menopause (also called Andropause) begins with hormonal, physiological, and chemical changes that occur in all men generally between the ages of forty and fifty-five, though it can occur as early as thirty-five or as late as sixty-five. These changes affect all aspects of a man’s life. Male menopause is, thus, a physical condition with psychological, interpersonal, social, and spiritual dimensions.”
“The purpose of male menopause is to signal the end of the first part of a man’s life and prepare him for the second half. Male menopause is not the beginning of the end, as many fear, but the end of the beginning. It is the passage to the most passionate, powerful, productive, and purposeful time of a man’s life.”
Many men were still skeptical, but women got it right away. “Of course, men experience hormonal changes. I’m glad someone finally acknowledged it.” When men recognized that there was help and the help could improve their sex life, they were on board as well. The main skeptics seemed to be the medical professional, mostly male, who didn’t want to admit that there was any “real change” going on for them or their patients. I got nasty letters and guys walking out of the room when I presented at professional conferences.
The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer reminds us that “All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self-evident.” We’ve definitely passed through the first stage and second stage. My books have been translated into more than 20 foreign languages and I’ve been asked to present my findings at conferences throughout the world. I get letters from men and women telling me that what they have learned from my books have saved their relationships and in some cases saved their lives.
Even the medical community is getting on board. Kenneth Goldberg, M.D., former Medical Director of the Male Health Institute says, “Men know little about their bodies and even less about their aging process. Male Menopause provides valuable information that can help a man and his partner live better and longer.”
It’s a clear indicator that the male change of life is real, when we now have our own term, manopause. In their book Manopause: Your Guide to Surviving His Changing Life, authors Lisa Bloch and Kathy Silverman tackle his changes head on. The truth is we’re all in this together, men and women. We can recognize that we are all fully human and have hormonal, physiological, psychological, sexual, social, cultural, and spiritual changes. But there are differences between men and women at all stages of life, and that’s wonderful.
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