Manopause: What Every Man (and Woman) Should Know

A few weeks ago, when the content editor announced that the theme for June would be dedicated to topics only covering men’s health and social topics that intersect with men’s health, I responded within minutes with my blog topic.

I knew this was a great time to address something that gets so little attention in the media and quite frankly is under recognized and certainly under addressed in the medical community.   So much so, one of the blogger guys on our team quickly sent a spunky “Reply All” that went like this:

Me:  Great. I like the Men’s Health theme.

Spunky guy:  Doc, is that when I start dating women 15- 20 years younger (over 21) than me and I get a convertible?

Editor: Hey, Dr. Jada does not give free advice….read her blog or book her on the podcast in the fall!

Me: LOL!!! Umm, sorta kinda…but it’s’ also when the little blue pill is really why you came to the Doctor-NOT the athlete’s’ foot you said, so you can keep the younger babes you attract with the drop top Corvette.

Spunky guy:  In his Denzel plays Frank Lucas voice… “that’s that blue magic!!” LOL!

Editor: Hey bloggers, how about you channel some of that energy into your content!

I decided to do just that!

Manopause is a term that has been coined to parallel well-known female fate–Menopause.  Menopause in women represents the physiologic opposite of puberty in girls.  Around the fourth decade of life, women begin to experience a decline in ovarian function, plummeting levels of estrogen, which results in an eventual cessation of the menstrual cycle, the final frontier of “the change”. Menopause is generally defined as the loss of menstrual function for a full year as a result of loss of estrogen due to ovarian failure.

The male equivalent of menopause is more formerly termed Andropause.   Similarly, the predominant male sexual hormone, Testosterone, begins to decline, leaving a trail of symptoms strangely resembling a boy going through puberty with a few significant exceptions (hint think sex).  In fact, some have described Andropause or testosterone deficiency as Reverse Puberty.

Unlike the wild estrogen drop women experience over a relatively short time, men will have a much slower decline and varying hormone levels.  The changes can be so gradual that often hormone deficiency is overlooked as a potential cause for health issues in men.   Men may begin to have small declines in testosterone levels as early as age 30.  By age 40, most men will have lost about 10% of their testosterone hormone production, which continues to decrease by approximately 1% each year.

15 Signs & Symptoms of MANOPAUSE Every Man (And Woman) Should Know

  1. Low libido and diminished erections
  2. Night sweats
  3. Male Pattern Baldness and Loss of body hair
  4. Fatigue
  5. Irritability
  6. Depression and Apathy
  7. Sleep problems and restlessness
  8. Poor Concentration and Memory Loss
  9. Reduced Muscle mass and strength
  10. Enlarged breast tissue (Man Boobs)
  11. Weight gain and body fat  (especially abdominal obesity)
  12. Infertility
  13. Loss of self esteem
  14. Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  15. Loss of Height (gradual and often missed)

Now, many of these symptoms are variable and any single symptom alone may not be explained by low testosterone, often called Low T.  However, several of these in combination may warrant further investigation.  Keep in mind that testosterone is just one of many hormones that work in sync to balance mood, emotions, metabolism and sexual physiology.  Each of these hormones play an important role in your overall health.

It’s important to note that suicide rates have been found to increase in men between the ages of 40-65.  Some believe there is a correlation with Andropause, hence really giving credence to the term Midlife Crisis. More studies are needed to further explore this stage of the aging process.

The good news is that more than ever before there are a number of options for treatment.  One of the best ways to manage changes of aging is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  A protein rich, low sugar approach to eating can keep many circulating hormones in proper balance.  Green leafy vegetables and colorful fruits keep cells healthy and high functioning.  Likewise, vitamins and supplements can help support missing nutrients and precursors needed to function optimally.

Daily physical activity is critical to keep lean muscle and reduce excess fatty tissue.  A little each day goes a long way.  Adding hand weights to a 30 minute walk can be a power workout for busy people on the go.  Exercise, especially outdoors, can help strengthen bones, improve mood and get rid of stress and anxiety.

When it comes to medications seeing a doctor experienced in detecting and managing Low T can be very helpful.  Since diagnosis of Low T can be difficult, in addition to a thorough history and physical examination, specialized laboratory testing is often required. These tests are also important for monitoring hormone levels during Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT).  Some insurance plans may not cover the cost of tests or therapy; however, it may very well be worth the investment.

After all, it’s much less than a convertible Corvette!

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Jada Moore-Ruffin, MD

Dr. Moore-Ruffin is a board certified family physician and a graduate of Meharry Medical College. Dr. Moore-Ruffin was one of four post-doctoral fellows selected to join the Inaugural Satcher Health Leadership Institute Health Policy Leadership Fellowship in 2009. During that time, she focused on the national obesity epidemic at the community and policy levels.

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