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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Andropause - the male midlife crisis

For years, many have dismissed the changes that middle-aged men experience both mentally and physically and simply attributed them to mid-life crises. However, we now know these changes are more than just circumstance or because of other extraneous factors, but instead, are largely due to an inevitable decline in male hormones, resulting in andropause, the male equivalent of menopause.
Unfortunately, andropause is often misdiagnosed, or never treated or addressed at all due to the vagueness and wide variety of its symptoms. During the middle-age or mid-life years, most men are settled, have established themselves and have reached a point of stability that instead of being comforting, may cause some to question choices they've made, reevaluating their lives and accomplishments.
This mid-way point through one's life also causes many to think about an end to their youth, growing older, retirement, and their own mortality. Also, during this period of time, parents are aging, or needing our care at the same time our children are growing up and leaving the nest. All of these events and situations that are seemingly causing classic signs of mid-life crisis may actually be directly related to a decrease in hormones such as androgen and testosterone.
Unlike their female counterparts, men are able to reproduce well past andropause, although sperm quality and production may still be seriously affected. Testosterone, necessary for the production of healthy sperm, usually begins to naturally diminish after a man reaches the age of 40.
Symptoms of andropause may surface as early as the mid 30s, or in some men, as late as their 60s, but are most common during the 40s and 50s, and include the following:
- Difficulties with memory, alertness or concentration.
- Decreased muscle tone, weight gain, and an increase in body fat.
- Changes in urinary function or habits.
- Lack of energy or strength, decreased desire for physical activity.
- Mild to moderate depression and or irritability.
- A diminished sex drive coupled with a decrease in sexual function or ability.
- Changes in hair growth or loss, as well as noticeable changes in skin quality.
- Hot flashes, similar to those experienced by female's during menopause.
Treatment for andropause may involve the use of hormone replacement therapy, known as HRT, for men who are experiencing more severe symptoms of the condition. HRT may be useful for improving mood, relieving depression, increasing energy, and reducing anger or irritability. Many men who have received hormone replacement therapy including testosterone also report an increase in their libido as well as a decrease in insomnia or sleep problems.
For most men, a holistic or natural approach such as lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, are usually all that is necessary to control symptoms of andropause. Experts recommend a diet rich with fiber, vitamins and minerals, particularly C, D, E, and zinc, which can be found naturally in foods such as leafy green vegetables, or through supplements.
These small changes not only help to reduce signs of andropause, but also offer many physical benefits for the body in general. A regular exercise program, at least three times per week, helps to reduce stress, increase heart rate and blood circulation, and also boosts the body's natural immune system.
Read latest research on this interesting male menopause phenomenon at:

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