Male Menopause Is A Family Matter

Male Menopause Is A Family Matter - The male mid-life is often talked about in general or humorous terms, but rarely is it ever taken seriously. Both sexes go through puberty, so too do both sexes go through the change of life. just read the Male Menopause Is A Family Matter below conversation.

"Dear Abby:

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 thought, "Here's another family headed for a breakdown."

"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. 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.

"Dear Desperate:

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. Several questions begged to be answered.What is really {going on|happening) 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 release of my book, Male Menopause, I sent my own letter to Dear Abby.

I was pleased that my letter ran under a headline for her column which appeared in newspapers all over the country - SYMPTOMS OF MALE MENOPAUSE ARE REAL

"Dear Abby,

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 35 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 or andropause.

Erectile dysfunction affects 52% of men between the ages of 40 and 70 .

Men, like women, experience complex hormonal rhythms that affect their sexuality, mood and their physical well-being.

Emotional symptoms include irritability, worry, indecisiveness, and depression.

Physical symptoms include weight gain, sleep disturbances, short term memory loss, fatigue and weight gain.

Sexual symptoms include reduced libido, fear of sexual failure, and increased longing to "prove" he can still perform by seeking a younger partner.

Male menopause is like puberty the second time around wherea man must face issues of identity, sexuality, dependence, and independence.

Being a good parent is very challenging when a man is going through Male Menopause.

The Impact on Women

I receive hundreds of letters a week from women who are confused about what is happening to the man of the house. "I believe my husband is experiencing male menopause," this one began. "My husband attended a training course away from home for five weeks. He asked me to visit during the third week, which I did. It was like a romantic get-away for both of us. But when he returned two weeks later something had changed.

I knew something was wrong when I met him at the airport. He was very moody, said nothing was wrong, and wouldn't talk. When we made love, he found it difficult to obtain an erection and seemed angry when I tried to talk with him. Since then he's become more and more withdrawn and uncommunicative. He insists there isn't another woman involved and seemed surprised that I would even bring it up.

What really hurts is how he treats our daughter. They have always been very close, like best pals. Lately he is critical of everything she does. He snaps at her, then apologizes, and later does it all over again. She and I both feel we have to walk on egg shells. Clearly something is very wrong. Our daughter is beginning to spend more time away from home. I'm sure it's because she is so hurt by her father's sudden change of behavior. What's going on? What can I do?"

A Man Begins to See it

Jake reached out to me to tell me how he had come to understand that Male Menopause was the reason for the stress he was feeling with his family. "I'm 45 year's old and have been married to my wife for 23 years. We have four children who range in age from 9 to 19. Until recently I was the kind of Dad I had always wanted to be-involved with their lives, caring, concerned. But something changed when I hit 40. Not since I was a child did I feel such a deep-seated anger and sadness. I would yell at the kids, which I never used to do. Late at night I'd lay in bed with my wife and cry my eyes out. I couldn't believe it was me. I'm a grown man, a truck driver, for heaven's sake, throwing a tantrum like a four-year old or bawling like a baby.

I never knew that depression in men often expresses itself in anger. That was certainly the case with me. I was often irritated and grouchy and sometimes would have angry outbursts over the least little thing. I would tend to blame it on my wife or the kids. I know they began to withdraw and lose respect for me, which made me feel even worse.

One of the most difficult aspects of this time of life is the uncertainty. I question everything. I have faith in nothing. Even though I hate the way I feel, I can't seem to do anything constructive. I seem to be on a downward slide and I am destroying my family. There are times I think of killing myself. At least I wouldn't be hurting those I love the most.

I can thank my wife for helping me break out of this destructive cycle. She lovingly, but firmly encouraged me to talk to a counselor. I resisted for a long time, but finally went to see someone. It was the most important decision of my life. My family is recovering from my "mid-life crazies." I'm beginning to be a loving husband again and my kids tell me that they are glad they have their father back.

Side Bar: 12 Tips for Dealing with Male Menopause in the Family

1.Recognize that when one person in the family is having problems, it affects the entire family.

2.Just like puberty, menopause is an inevitable life passage. Be aware of the most common symptoms of Male Menopause including the following:

Loss of sexual desire for marital partner

Erectile dysfunction

Irritability and anger

Fatigue and low energy

Marital and family struggles

3.Be cognizant that both sexes often go through the "change of life" simultaneously. A great deal of mutual understanding is required to support each other.

4.Parents often go through menopause while their kids are going through adolescence. Since these stages of life are similar conflicts can arise if not understood. For instance, a dad can get upset at his daughter's emerging sexuality because he is uncomfortable with his own sexual changes.

5.Realize that Male Menopause generally appears slowly over a number of years. Symptoms may be challenging to recognize and interpret.

6.Be aware that for some men the symptoms can arise very quickly. "It seemed like one minute he was the normal, loving guy I have always known. The next minute he was moody, angry, and withdrawn," one woman told me.

7.Appreciate the fact that Male Menopause is often precipitated by changes within and without including:

Disability or death of parents, friends, or colleagues

Children leaving home

Job changes or fears of job loss

Slowing down or loss of physical abilities

Sexual dysfunction and worries about virility

Concerns about future goals and directions

Financial worries.

8.Accept that most men will initially deny they have a problem. Since male identity is shifting, even thinking such a change can be terrifying to a man.

9.Understand that there are a number of steps to accepting and dealing with Male Menopause:

Step 1: There is no problem here.

Step 2: If there is a problem here it must be you who has it. You need help.

Step 3: If there's some problem with me, it is minor. (I just need to relax more).

Step 4: If the problem may be more serious, I can handle it myself.

Step 5: Even if I need help, there's no one would understand.

Step 6: If someone understands I need help, I just want him to give me a quick fix (like changing the fluids in my car) and get me back on track.

Step 7: I guess I'm more complicated than my car and I may need support with hormonal, physical, emotional, interpersonal, sexual, social, economic, and spiritual aspects of my life.

10.Accept the fact that most medical professionals don't understand or accept the concept of Male Menopause. Research on Male Menopause is still about 30 years behind research on menopause in women.

11.Realize that the predominantly male medical establishment is caught it its own denial. Surveys have shown a higher acceptance of the concept of a Male Menopause among female physicians than their male counterparts.

12.Rejoice in the fact the Male Menopause can be treated through a variety of treatments including:

Hormone replacement

Exercise and diet

Herbs and medications

Stress reduction, relaxation, and body centered therapies

Cognitive and psychotherapeutic support

Couples and family therapy.

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