Male menopause? Myth or fact it won’t be as bad as mine

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p10 pic - Credit: Archant

I am going to touch on men. Not literally. I should cocoa.

Touching on them is not usually something I do. But because they may ? and I say only “may” ? get a bit of a raw deal from the fairer sex (women, allegedly), I find myself suffering a rare pang of sympathy. I’m hoping it will wear off.

You see, in addition to the much vaunted but medically unproven “mid-life crisis” it seems there is also the male menopause or “andropause” as they’ve taken to calling it.

Female menopause ? I’m on safer ground now ? manifests itself in a number of symptoms. Women might experience all, some or none of them. My menopause has brought me night sweats, panic attacks, hot flushes, a regional loss of moisture and an inability to be cope with my husband reading aloud to me from the newspaper. Especially when I’ve already read it.

Pair this set of problems with the signs of ageing (varifocals, osteo-arthritis, wrinkles, grey hair, bunions, veins, saggy bits, bigger nose, smaller urges etc) it all adds up to a being best suited to jumping out from behind hedges and scaring small children.

My menopausal troubles have been checked by Hormone Replacement Therapy but I have only make-up to fend off ageing. And that doesn’t work as well as it used to.

But that’s enough about me. Let us now spare a thought for men... right, that’s enough of that. Back to me. Only joking.

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Men must surely undergo a lessening of their drives as they move away from the hormonal peaks we know, chronologically, as puberty (breaking voice; body hair; sniggering at anatomical terms), teenage years (smelly trainers, spots, angst) moving into the 20s, 30s, 40s and then to the much-vaunted mid-life crisis (mlc) as clearly portrayed in Top Gear. It definitely exists, the mlc, because outside surgery hours even my own GP (now retired) was scudding about in a leather jacket and a sporty MG convertible. Until then, I had thought of him as simply a gentleman doctor of the old school. The sort that warms his stethoscope before pressing it to your chest.

And it’s a fair bet that there are thousands more top professionals out there who have a yen to do something devilish before the urge to go on three-week cruises and dead-head the roses overtakes them. I have been watching my husband carefully, waiting for the signs but unless the desk in his office is piled high with brochures about kayaking and adrenaline-rush weekends there’s been nothing yet. Even when a discussion about Skype (he has an elderly aunt in Ohio he would like to talk to) revealed it might prompt unsolicited contact from Olga in the Volga, Minx from Minsk and other single maidens from the former USSR, it did not immediately (as far as I know) spark his interest.

As for male menopause, NHS choices says men may experience hot flushes, mood swings, loss of muscle mass and fat redistribution, tiredness, dry and thin skin, increased sweating, poor concentration, irritability and loss of enthusiasm. It could have been written for me... I’m going to cut and paste it into my CV.

NHS Choices goes on to say, however, that the term “male menopause” is unhelpful and “in many cases the symptoms are nothing to do with hormones”. Which seems a bit of a shame as, unlike us women, men have no single thing to blame.

My husband’s slight concern about entering male menopause was brought on by his itchy fingers... no, he hasn’t been shoplifting. The skin on his hands is itchy and he wondered if this might be something to do with andropause. Sometimes, access to the bottomless well of knowledge available on the world wide web can be as curse as well as a blessing, methinks.

There is HRT for men. But, much as I love my husband, and I truly do, would I really want to live with a hormonally-boosted man with all that might entail or should I count my blessings and simply come to terms with such minor eccentricities as his predilection for shouting down the panel on television’s Question Time and his daily declaration that he is going to “write a letter to the editor”?