Male Menopause: Reality Not Myth

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.

What’s your experience with Male Menopause?  Please share a comment below.

You also take the Male Menopause Quiz.

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Comments

  1. Rick Pack says:

    Interesting that women rapidly agreed with your proposals of menopause but men much less so. I am in my early thirties and I readily accept your ideas. I wonder if cultural changes in how we represent gender, to which you have necessarily contributed and thank you for doing so, have caused younger men to find menopause / andropause a more plausible idea. We have watched our fathers and other men develop and change. We have also experienced the dramatic adoption of ideas concerning human psychology and biochemical contributors like hormones and neurotransmitters.

    • Rick Pack says:

      I also think these cultural changes will cause more men to explore ways of reducing the consequences of manopause / andropause.

      • Jed Diamond says:

        Rick, thanks. Times definitely are changing and more and more men (and women) are recognizing and accepting that we all go through hormonally driven transformations and that understanding and accepting who we are can go a long way towards accepting others. Its good to accept ourselves and our deepest levels and manopause is an important stage in our journey.

  2. Mark Groesbeck says:

    For those of your readers who have a difficult time believing in male menopause, they need to speak to someone like me. Diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 54 (I’m now 61), I underwent surgery and radiation before ending up on androgen deprivation therapy for just over 3 years. For those who don’t know, ADT is typically used as a last resort “palliative” treatment for prostate cancer that is not cured by either surgery or radiation, or as in my case, by both. Regarding my cancer, ADT turned out to be everything I could have hoped for. My continually increasing PSA, the blood test score that is the current best means of diagnosing and measuring the advance of prostate cancer, fell immediately to undetectable after receiving that first injection and stayed that way for the next 3 years of every four month shots. This treatment is essentially a form of chemical castration. It is used to slow or stop the production of testosterone, the male hormone that fuels the growth and spread of most prostate cancers. Before doctors were able to accomplish this chemically, the standard treatment was actual castration. The fact that I live in a time where their is a chemical means of accomplishing this atrocity and I didn’t have to be subjected to having my testicles removed, is the only thing (other than the stopping of my cancer) that I am grateful for. The rest of the experience has been a nightmare.

    Much like when a pre-menopausal woman is plunged into menopause when subjected to a total hysterectomy, castration, whether the physical or chemical variety, plunges a man immediately into andropause. At least that was my experience. Hot flashes, breast tenderness and growth, personality change, lethargy, total lack of sex drive, crying bouts, impotence, joint and muscle pain, and depression is just a partial list of what I would experience over 3 years of treatment. Still, it was extremely effective in putting my cancer into remission. As of this writing, I have been off treatment for almost 2 years and my cancer has stayed in remission. But it took nearly a full year for me to return to something close to my pre-androgen deprivation therapy self. I would gauge myself to have returned to about 80% of the man I once was. I will remain off treatment until such time that my cancer shows signs of returning. If I’m lucky, that may never happen. But if it does, I will have to think long and hard about whether I’d subject myself or my wife and family to that again. I too was once a male menopause skeptic. I definitely am no longer.

    • Jed Diamond says:

      One of my earliest supports was a doctor who treated men dealing with prostate cancer. He said, “Until I read your book it never occurred to me that many of the symptoms that we induce when we give men drugs that deprive them of androgen occur naturally as we age.” It is an awakening for many to realize that we call experience a hormonally based change of life.

  3. Diana says:

    I’ve been with my boyfriend since Nov 24, 2012..Everything was going great with/between us then come the 26th of Dec and he out of the blue just started saying mean and unimaginable things to me..Like “I told you from the start I didn’t want to be in a relationship, I told you right from the start that I didn’t want no commitment..I don’t know if I can handle doin this with you on a regular basis…blah blah blah” and it went on and on…So I come right out and told him IF YOU don’t like me and YOU don’t want to be here then there’s the door go thru it get in your truck and get the hell out of here and DON’T come back..! He gave me a hug and told me he was right where he wanted to be and that we’d let things “ride” and see where it takes us…So come the 26th of Jan here we go again..Same ole conversation, same time of the month..”I told you I don’t know IF I want a relationship, I told you I don’t want NO commitment…blah blah blah” and once again I told him there’s the door don’t come back..Well same ole thing we’ll let it “ride” and see what happens..Everything was fine for us all month long til it come near the 26th..I had marked it on the calendar in January when it happened as it all seemed to familiar from Dec..So I decided to look male pms up on the computer and I found Jed Diamond’s site with the quiz and had him take it and it proved that he had “IMS”…So April 20th was his birthday and we had gotten him some of the herbal supplements suggested and he started taking them right away..Well last night we went out and ended up having dinner some friends joined us and the 4 of us laughed and had a good time as soon as we got back to his place it started..I walked over to give him and kiss and he blurted out “WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LEAVE ME THE F*CK ALONE”…Well that was a new way to start the same ole conversation but it wasn’t soon it went to the same ole conversation “I told you…blah blah blah blah blah blah”……..Needless to say it cuts thru me as if he’s reaching into my chest from my anus and ripping my heart out..Although I know what’s going on it still hurts as I don’t know if he means it or not and I love him with all my heart and soul..He’s a wonderful man but I just can’t stay on this rollercoaster I’ve been on for the past 6 months..April 20 (his 59th birthday) I gave him a hug and a kiss and said “Happy Birthday Babe I love you” and he gave me a hug and looked me square in the eye and with such feeling he said “I love you too” and gave me a kiss…That was the third time in the past 4 months he said that..Then after he says…”Oops that was a mistake”….Immediately I start crying..He has to know how it hurts me…I just don’t know what I can/should do..Then the next morning he’ll say I’m sorry I didn’t mean what I said lets just let things ride and see where they take us…..I’m so devasted I don’t know what to do…He refuses to get counseling or talk to a therapist and yet he does admit there is a problem and yes he does say its pms..I said to him tonight before he left to go home I said so where does things stand for us and he said we’ll be just fine don’t worry about things its just my pms…I need to know what to do about this…I’m so beside myself with fear, anger, hurt..I so badly want to tell him to leave and never come back but as I said I love him so much its not funny…

    • Jed Diamond says:

      Diana, I know how painful and confusing this can be. When a man is under the influence of The Irritable Male Syndrome, he can make life miserable for himself and anyone who is close to him. I’ve had great success counseling the women first. Often I can help stabilize them and help them get back on track in their own lives. Often we can get the men involved later on. If I can help, feel free to drop me a note.

      • Diana says:

        Jed…He left Monday for work out of town this is the first time he’s had to go out of town (and he’ll be returning for out of town again next week for work as well) since we’ve been together and I was sort of looking forward to him goin thinking it would give him time to think about us and miss me..But, I know him well enough to know that he doesn’t even think about me nor miss me..He’ll be coming back to town sometime Friday evening and I know he won’t come see me or come get me to take me to his place to spend the night just so we can be together after a week apart..I tried calling him last night and he just let the phone ring and go to voice mail..When he goes like that without me he just totally ignores me and the fact that I even exist..I’m also wondering IF he isn’t Bipolar..He can sit down and within minutes be asleep..Doesn’t matter if he’s at work on lunch break, sitting in the rocker recliner or where he is he just goes off to sleep..He just doesn’t seem to “care’ about how anything is..Doesn’t care if his lawn is mowed, doesn’t care if his haus is a pig sty, doesn’t care what I seem to do or who I do it with and when we go out and we run into people he knows he just ignores the fact that I’m even standing there to introduce me..Back in Feb tho he did take me to a “nascar 500″ party and he did introduce me to his friends as “my girlfriend” that put me over the top of the world…Everytime it comes to the 26th of the month I prepare myself for the worst not knowing when it might start..I do love him and am trying to be patient with him and help him/us get thru this but he just doesn’t “seem to care” IF he/we do…His ex wife did a real number on him/his emotions when they divorced after 25 yrs of marriage and now says he has “NO feelings” and that the “L” word isn’t in his vocabulary but yet he’s told me “I love you too” 3 times and said it with such feelings and looked me directly in the eyes when he said it and yet says “oops that was a mistake”…How do I deal with this..? He told me when we first started going out that he doesn’t want NO drama and won’t deal with any sort of drama..Well HE’s the one creating all the drama..All I’m doing is just riding the emotional roller coaster..I never had this sort of drama in my life and I’m having a tough time with it..I keep telling myself that IF he doesn’t come see me/call me friday or by 3 pm saturday that I’m done…But its just so hard..He’s such a good person and I know there’s problems that needs worked thru and I don’t want to give up on him so soon if this can be fixed..What is there as far as herbal for bipolar..? He doesn’t have medical insurance so its not like he can just go to the dr for diagnosis and meds…I’m really willing to work this out with him and he acknowledges there is a problem and he wants to get it under control (or he wouldn’t take the supplements) but yet I’m a emotional wreck…HHHEEELLLPPPPP.! What do I do..Where do I go from here..? Any suggestions.?

        • Jed Diamond says:

          Diana, These are the kinds of questions that can’t be answered in a blog. I would be happy to do some counseling with you. I’ve found that these kinds of issues can usually be addressed and help given. If you’d like to explore that, drop me an email at Jed@MenAlive.com and put counseling in the subject line (be sure and respond to my spam filter if its the first time you’ve written).

  4. Susan Peterson says:

    My heart goes out to all the ladies going through this… I can relate to exactly what Diana is saying… this happened to my husband and i through 2005 and 2006. It broke my heart. I’ve never been the same since. On the upside… after 20 years of marriage I asked him to leave as he was beyond reproach with his thoughtfulness and emotional cruelty with myself and our boys. A few months after he left he said that he woke up one morning and said to himself ‘ what have i done to my life?’” and then started his slow journey back to us.. . painfully for him as it was a big fear..10 months later he entered into personal therapy and within 4 months we were back in marriage couselling. we have been living back together since 2008 and he has mentioned that he wished he had sought help when he first started to feel angry all the time before the switch flipped and he was unapproachable. After he was on his own in 2006, yes, and there had been an affair., which now sickens him …. i bought him your bookand said please read it… it took him weeks to pick it up but when he did and he realized that he was not alone and that there was something that could be ‘fixed’ he became more relaxed and open to the idea of therapy. I think its great Jed that you have brought male menopause into public awareness… i had never considered it but when he first started to feel angry in 2005 and we ‘googled’ his symptoms… your website popped up.. sadly he flipped before we could act on this new knowledge and he went into denial and closed off. The more men and women that acknowledge this … the more families will survive…. it will be as common as the symptoms of female menopause and men will not be running for cover because they do not understand what they are going through.. Again, thank you Jed for your books.. it left the door open.. and my heart to Diana and all the ladies who feel so helpless since this ‘stranger’ appeared in their lives. its a scary time.

    • Jed Diamond says:

      Susan, thanks for your thoughtful comments and sharing your experiences. As you point out men can recognize there is a problem and turn their lives around. Sometimes it takes the woman to set her boundaries that she needs to take care of herself, at the same time encouraging the man to seek help and support. I’ve found that everyone has their own timing for opening up and getting help. Men are often slower than women. But we all want the same thing: a good relationship that meets our needs and supports our health and well-being, someone who has our back and is there for us, who can reach out when they are hurting, and give support when needed. We can have that kind of relationship, but most of us have had traumatic experiences in the past which often cloud our present choices. So getting help can…well, it can really help. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Lisa Paton says:

    Hi Jed
    I live in Australia where I feel we are behind the times with the impacts of hormonal changes on men. My husbands issues were not just with ageing he is 51 in January but a 11 years ago he was diagnosed with a prolactinoma and low testosterone. The man I knew was there inside came an went on a regular basis. Some years ago when I tried to explain to his GP his mood swings etc and my theory on how the hormonal imbalances impacted on his moods I was fobbed off and told no that this wouldn’t be happening. My husbands tumor is a microadenoma which is situated in the middle of his pituitary gland so very difficult to remove without removing the whole gland. He now receives and has done for quite some years quarterly testosterone injections prior to this he received them fortnightly until I told the endocrinologist if she continued to give him those he could come and live with her. And although the quarterly injections have been a lot more effective and his moods a lot more even we then came across another hurdle ulcerative colitis. More doctors throwing in more glucocorticoids and nobody even considering the impacts of their treatments on my husbands moods and the impacts on his family. Once again when I tried to raise my concerns I was fobbed off. It took me, through the fear of him doing something to hurt myself and my daughter(not my real husband the one that the hormonal imbalances was creating) that I employed a solicitor to get him to move out. I had tried to explain to my husband the behaviour but he couldn’t really see it all. I think he knew some of it but I think he didn’t want to see it. After about 4 months of being separated and me refusing to see him he started to consider that there may be something in what I was saying and also that our daughter backed up what I had said. I had at this stage found your web site so when I got your email updates I forwarded them to him. Which I think has helped because I think he thought he was the only man with hormonal issues which just isn’t manly now is it!!! The struggle was and is far from over but part of the reconciliation agreement was that he see a psychiatrist now this wasn’t because I thought he was a nutter this was because I believed that a psychiatrist would know more about moods than another medical practitioners given their choice of career and the added bonus was they have to do normal medicine prior to becoming a psychiatrist. Finally someone who is getting it mind you I have had to do a heap of research on ulcerative colitis IBD the impacts of stress on this and the interaction of all of this on the HPA which is literally mind blowing stuff. I have tried to stick to mostly scholarly articles so when I was looked at like a mad wife I could reference back to something solid. But to say the very least I have been given a new respect and awe at this thing we call a body and how intricately hormones work in even the basic functions of our gastrointestinal system and how stress and other factors can not only impact on this system but how these impacts can be so interrelated with hormonal imbalances and problems.

    • Jed Diamond says:

      Lisa, what a journey you and your husband are on. I know how difficult it can be to get health-care professionals to understand these changes and to address them effectively. Thanks for sharing your experiences so other can learn. I hope as more people get involved we can expand the focus of health care to include issues related to Male Menopause and related issues. Do stay in touch and let us know how things are working out.

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