Guest post by Mokshadharma Saraswati who belongs to the International Yoga Fellowship Movement and is a follower of Paramahamsa Niranjanananda of Bihar School of Yoga India. She currently teaches Hatha/Raja yoga in the Satyananda style in Chiang Khong, Thailand.
One of the world’s best kept secrets is that men go through a change of life or male menopause. It is called Andropause and normally occurs between the ages of 45-60. Although there has been an upsurge in media attention and available information on the subject, most men will deny any such phenomenon exists. Mention it to just about any red-blooded male and the suggestion is met with protest and indignation.
It is certainly not a hot topic for dinner party conversation, although a man might discuss it in hushed tones with a male friend over a few drinks. Nobody dares mention it in public because it is one of those things we do not talk about in mixed company.
Every woman over 45 knows she is going to have to face menopause at some point in her life. The upside for men is that statistics show only one in every 200 men will go through a really rough menopause. Many are lucky and only suffer mild symptoms. There are 70 year old men out there with the hormone levels of a 20 year old (gotta get me one of them). The downside is there are other men who will suffer most or all of the symptoms.
The difference between men and women is that women talk about their change-of-life experiences, even joking about it, sharing how they manage their symptoms. Women accept menopause as part of their life’s journey. At the first sign of menopausal symptoms, she will seek help and advice. Whereas as man may feel quite unwell, be physically, mentally and emotionally depleted; even feel defeated and drained by the whole experience and still ignore the symptoms and repress his feelings.
So what causes this “unmentionable” situation? Low production of the male hormone testosterone (androgen) can lead to the onset of menopausal symptoms which I will list for you below.
*General feelings of tiredness and lethargy.
*Mood swings and erratic behavior patterns
*Depression, nervousness , anxiety and outbursts of anger.
*Fuzzy thinking and bouts of memory loss.
*Feelings of regret, loss and disappointment.
*Dissatisfaction with life i.e., work, home, family relationships, and friendships.
Certain medical conditions can cause a man’s testosterone levels to drop. These conditions are associated with the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Some men with cancer, diabetes, or any auto-immune disorder may also have low testosterone levels. It can also be triggered by obesity, destructive lifestyle choices, poor diet and total lack of exercise or awareness about what is part of the natural aging process.
For proper diagnosis a doctor will first discuss the symptoms, do a physical examination, and order blood tests to check hormone levels. If the results prove there is a problem, the patient will be referred to an endocrinologist – the person most qualified to deal with management and treatment.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Testosterone replacement therapy will certainly relieve some of the symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and anxiety and will improve libido. However there has been so much controversy over hormone replacement therapy for the female menopause that many women are looking for alternatives rather than face any risk. Sadly many women died before the connection was made between HRT and breast cancer. The positive side to that story is many women have been on HRT for years and swear by it.
Still, it is fair to suggest that a man needs to gather all the information he can about any possible side effects of TRT and then make an informed decision. Do not rule it out; ask questions and get answers that satisfy you and allay your fears before embarking on treatment.
Yoga and Meditation
An experienced and understanding yoga teacher can provide a well balanced yoga practice suitable for a person’s age, level of fitness and problem. Classes will include restorative, rejuvenating practices like meditation, relaxation, breath awareness and cleansing techniques (Hatha yoga). Yoga is based on more than just science. Based on India’s culture and profound philosophy it is like being given a road map, a compass and a sign that says “Stay on the path” to attain and maintain physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Just as yoga comes from ancient wisdom and Ayurveda comes from Indian Tibetan medicine, Chinese medicine comes from an impressive and invaluable source. With a long history of success with acupuncture, there are herbal remedies and beneficial, enjoyable modalities like Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Wu Shu. Chinese medicine suggests the male menopause is caused by kidney deficiency and liver stagnation and also related to heart and spleen. There are many Chinese apothecary shops and clinics with experts who can diagnose and treat symptoms of male menopause.
A personal trainer can set up a program suitable for a man’s age and physical condition. It is not so much about building muscle as building bone density, strength, discipline, cardiovascular care and shedding weight that puts great strain on all the bodies systems.
It may surprise you to know that 35 minutes of brisk walking morning and afternoon can work wonders. It is free along with the fresh air and sunshine. Walking can help you lose weight, control blood sugar, lower blood pressure and reduce stress.
It is not about giving up all the things you love to eat it is about including things that are good for you and excluding things that are bad for you. Sudden drastic changes in diet are not recommended. It is more moderation and gradual change. The stomach needs to be two thirds full and one third empty that is the yoga perspective on eating. Cut down on meat if you are a big meat eater. Eat more vegetable, fruit, herbs, nuts, seeds, pulses, sprouts, whole grains. Drink more water, fresh juices. Cut down on sugar, dairy and fat. Gradually cut down and then out social drugs and alcohol.
B Vitamins can help with stress and boost energy.
C Vitamins can stabilize the production of stress hormones.
Herbs – like Ginseng and Ashwaghanda can counteract the long term affects of stress.
Fish oil supplements can improve cognitive function, boost energy levels and can help prevent heart attack.
L-Arginise is an amino acid that helps dilate constricted blood vessels associated with erectile dysfunction.
Menopause for both men and women can last for years. Tremendous strain is put on relationships. Family life can be seriously challenged, destroyed or disrupted. The support of a sympathetic, loving partner is an asset. A man alone is more vulnerable and isolated.
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