Menopause is a normal change in a woman’s life when her period stops. That’s why some people call menopause “the change of life” or “the change.” During menopause a woman’s body slowly produces less of the hormone estrogen and progesterone. This often happens between the ages of 45 and 55 years old. A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months in a row.
What are the symptoms of Menopause?
Every woman’s period will stop at menopause. Some women may not have any other symptoms at all. Most women approaching menopause (perimenapause) or who are postmenopausal will experience hot flashes, a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the upper body and is often accompanied by blushing and some sweating. The severity of hot flashes varies from mild in most women to severe in others.
Other common symptoms experienced around the time of menopause include:
• Irregular or skipped periods
• Mood swings
• Racing heart
• Joint and muscle aches and pains
• Changes in libido (sex drive)
• Vaginal dryness
• Thinning of bones
• Bladder control problems
Not all women get all of these symptoms.
What is Andropause (male menopause)?
As men approach middle age and beyond (40 and older) they may experience a phenomenon similar to female menopause, called Andropause. Unlike women, men do not have a clear-cut external signpost to mark this transition, such as the cessation of menstruation. Both menopause and Andropause, however, are characterized by a drop in hormone levels. Estrogen in the female, testosterone in the male. Resulting bodily changes occur gradually in men and may be accompanied by changes in attitude and mood, fatigue, a loss of energy, sex drive and physical endurance.
What’s more, studies show that this decline in testosterone can actually put men at risk for other health problems such as heart disease and weak bones. Since all this happens at a time when many men begin to question their values, accomplishments and direction in life, it’s often difficult to link the changes that are occurring to more than just external conditions.
Unlike menopause, which generally occurs in women during their mid-forties to mid-fifties, men’s “transition” may be much more gradual and spread over many decades. Attitude, psychological stress, alcohol abuse, injuries or surgery, medications, obesity and infections can contribute to its onset.
Although a decline in testosterone levels will occur in virtually all men as they age, there is no way of predicting who will experience Andropausal symptoms of sufficient severity to seek medical help. Neither is it predictable at what age symptoms will occur in a particular individual. Also, each man’s symptoms may be different.
Andropause is the time in a man’s life when the hormones naturally start decline usually during their late forties or early fifties. This decline continues into the eighties. Many have questioned whether the male menopause is more myth than reality. The Andropause is a gradual process and not exactly the same as menopause. However, like women undergoing menopause, the decline in hormones in men result in them suffering from symptoms of the Andropause. However, like the menopause, symptoms of Andropause can vary from person to person.
What are the symptoms of Andropause?
Between the ages of 50 to 70, some men report symptoms such as erectile dysfunction (failure to achieve an erection), general tiredness, mood changes, night sweats and sometimes palpitations. Most men attribute erectile dysfunction to be the most significant event of the Andropause. Apart from erectile dysfunction, mood changes can take place too. Some men complain of nervousness, irritability and even depression. Others undergoing andropausal changes report having feelings of wanting to be closer to family and friends. In the andropausal years, men take on a more “maternal” role, as if transitioning to become more motherly than fatherly. It is interesting that many men do not sense these changes in themselves, but rather it is women that notice this change.
In andropausal men, night sweats and palpitations occur because of an overactive autonomic system in response to falling testosterone levels. To assess for hypogonadism, which is in part the clinical basis of the Andropause, the doctor will check for physical signs in men including hair loss particularly in the armpit and genitalia.
The keys symptoms include;
• Lack of energy
• Low sex drive and difficulty getting erections or erections not as strong as usual
• Irritability and mood swings
• Loss of strength and muscle mass
• Increased body fat
• Hot flashes and night sweats