Yes, men go through menopause, or as it is commonly referred, “andropause.” Male menopause can be a leading cause of midlife crisis in men and quite damaging to a marriage. If you’ve noticed a decrease in energy, signs of depression and a lack of desire for sex in your husband, pay attention, he could be experiencing a slump in his testosterone level.
Symptoms of Male Menopause:
For some men, low testosterone is the norm. If this is the case there may be no signs or symptoms. Other men, those with normal or high testosterone levels will exhibit definite signs and symptoms when testosterone levels decline with age. Low testosterone levels may cause the following symptoms:
- Sleeping habits: Just as with menopause, low testosterone levels can cause insomnia, night sweats and other disturbances in sleep patterns.
- Emotional changes: Low testosterone levels can cause a loss of motivation, sadness, depression, problems with concentration and withdrawal from friends and family.
- Physical symptoms: Like the middle aged woman, low testosterone levels can be responsible for weight gain, reduced muscle strength and decreased bone density. There can also be hair loss and hot flashes.
- Sexual function: Low testosterone levels will make it hard for the older man to impregnate a woman; he will have fewer spontaneous erections, lack of sexual desire and at times, erectile dysfunction.
Effects of Low Testosterone on Marriage:
It isn’t a big stretch for me to say that the depression and sexual changes that come with lower testosterone levels can have a detrimental effect on a marriage. “Depression that affects one partner has an effect on the other partner, the relationship and ultimately the entire family. Nearly 15 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the U.S. population age 18 and older, are affected with a major depression in a given year”, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
According to WebMD.com, “When a man has erectile dysfunction, it may affect and/or change his relationship with himself and his partner(s). The man may be embarrassed and even feel guilty, making it difficult to talk to his partner about this issue. Erectile dysfunction has a direct impact on how it affects a man's life and marriage. It is suggested that erectile dysfunction is involved in one in five failed marriages. Erectile dysfunction not only affects the man but his partner as well.”
Is Testosterone Therapy the Solution for Male Menopause?
Low levels of testosterone can be treated with intramuscular injections, testosterone patches, testosterone gels or oral tablets. Each of these will provide sufficient levels of testosterone replacement.
There are side effects that come along with testosterone replacement therapy. Testosterone replacement therapy is a long-term treatment for those who need it and no long-term studies have been done on the effects of the therapy. You need to be aware of this before beginning the therapy and commit to taking it long-term.
Normal side effects of testosterone replacement therapy include nausea, an erection that won’t go away and will require medical attention, acne, increased appetite, mood swings, fluid retention, headaches and liver damage.
Many men choose to go on replacement therapy regardless of the lack of long-term studies and side effects for various reasons, mainly the impact it has on quality of life and self-esteem. Men want to be able to function sexually, they want to please their wives and cultivate that intimate relationship.
The fact that there are no long-term studies done on the effects is something that should be discussed between a husband and wife. A decision about whether to use such therapy should be based on the needs of both spouses and with the knowledge that the therapy could be detrimental to a husband’s health if used long-term.