Leslie Carol Botha: It seems that hormones affect men and women’s behaviors alike. In the end a lack of understanding of how hormones affect our behaviors creates havoc in the home or at the office. Jed Diamond notes that hormone imbalance is men and women is not taken seriously and often ridiculed. Science and psychology prove otherwise.
Male Menopause / Andropause: How It Impacts Men, Women, and Families
By Jed Diamond
“Man is not the enemy here, but the fellow victim.” – Betty Friedan
The male mid-life is often talked about in general or humorous terms, but rarely is it discussed seriously. In this article I suggests an alternative to the traditional treatment given to men in the media.
I am a 50-year-old man who has been married for 22 years. My wife and I have two wonderful teen-aged children. About six months ago, my wife’s niece (I’ll call her Rene), whom I had never met, came from another country to live with us so she could go to college in the United States. She is in her early 20s.” As I read Abigail Van Buren’s (Dear Abby) column in my local newspaper, I shook my head and thought, “Here’s another family headed for trouble.”
“For the first few months everything was fine. Now I find myself thinking about Rene all the time. I think I’m in love with her. I travel quite a bit because of my job and every time I come home it’s torture. I have to act as if nothing is going on in my mind. No one knows the way I feel,” the letter went on.
“If I tell my wife, she’ll be crushed and it will be the end of our marriage. If I tell Rene—who has done nothing wrong and loves my wife like a mother—she may want to return to her country without finishing her studies.
I have always tried to do the right thing. I never thought at this age I’d be feeling this way. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s life, including my own. What should I do?”
-Desperate in Delaware
Abby’s response was clear and direct
Although it’s common for older men to fantasize about younger women, the consequences of your fantasy could irreparably damage at least five lives. Talking this out with someone you trust would be helpful. I recommend a professional therapist, who can help you assess the consequences of acting out this fantasy.”
Though Abby’s advice was good, I felt it didn’t get to the heart of the matter. What is really going on in the lives of millions of mid-life men? How can we help our teen-age children deal with their hormonal, physical, emotional, and sexual changes when we are so confused about our own? What can we do to help families get through this difficult time of life without splitting apart?
Based on my own research that culminated in the publication of my book, Male Menopause, I sent a response to Dear Abby.
I was pleasantly surprised that my letter ran under a headline for her column which appeared in newspapers all over the country –
SYMPTOMS OF MALE MENOPAUSE ARE REAL
Thank you for the sensitive response to Desperate in Delaware, a 50-year-old man with an obsessive attraction to a younger woman. I have been a psychotherapist for 34 years and have seen too many men destroy their own lives and the lives of those they love because they didn’t understand the inevitable changes that go on in a man’s body, mind, and spirit at mid-life.
I’ve found that my understanding of these issues has been greatly expanded since recognizing that men go through a form of “male menopause,” generally between the ages of 40 and 55.
Marc Blackman, M.D., chief of endocrinology and metabolism at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center says, “The male menopause is a real phenomenon and it does similar things to men as menopause does to women, although less commonly and to a lesser extent.”
I believe thousands of families could be saved from splitting apart if men and women learned about the newest research findings on this crucial time of life.
- More than 25 million men in the U.S. are now going through male menopause.
- 52% of men between 40 and 70 suffer from some degree of erectile dysfunction.
- Men, like women, experience complex hormonal rhythms that affect their mood, their physical well-being, and their sexuality.
- Emotional symptoms include irritability, worry, indecisiveness, and depression.
- Physical symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, short-term memory loss, and sleep disturbances.
- Sexual symptoms include reduced libido, fear of sexual failure, and increased desire to “prove” he can still perform by seeking a younger partner.
- Male menopause is like puberty the second time around where a man must face issues of identity, sexuality, dependence, and independence.
- When a man is going through Male Menopause it makes it very difficult to be an effective parent.