One might wonder why it has taken until this week for Time Magazine to have as their cover story: "Manopause?! Aging, Insecurity and the $2 Billion Testosterone Industry."
Of course all women, if they live long enough, go through "the change" -- the two to five year period where mood swings, hot flashes, gaining weight eating a lettuce leaf, and night sweats accompany the loss of progesterone (100 percent -- yes all of it!), testosterone (70 percent) and estrogen (97 to 99 percent). With these changes in the hormonal makeup, comes the final stage of a woman's development -- the cessation of her monthly period. Twelve months after her last period, a woman is and will be forever post-menopausal.
Women have come to realize that being a post-menopausal woman can, with the right attitude, daily exercise, and having purpose, be the best years. Women actually have a bit of biological help with this. A post-menopausal woman no longer has high levels of estrogen -- the hormone that makes them want to procreate, continue the species, focus on the home and try to keep the peace. She is now testosterone dominant. We are all well versed in what testosterone does for men in the first half of their lives -- it makes them confident and focus outside the home.
So what about Manopause? The scientific name is andropause, and men who suffer with andropause find themselves with a decreased sex drive, lower energy, reduced strength and endurance, erections that are less strong, a diminished ability to play sports, and a decreased zest for life. Falling asleep after dinner as well as a constant questioning of values, accomplishments and future directions are also classic symptoms of lower testosterone.
No man ever wants to contemplate the possibility of male menopause. They want to leave all of this to the female sex. Men have suffered for years thinking that they have depression and other health issues instead of the natural dwindling of their testosterone levels. Currently, doctors aren't sure what percentage of the older male population suffers from andropause -- as low as 10 percent and as high as 100 percent.
However, there is good news. Most women love men who have a feminine side. In the second half of a man's life, as they lose the testosterone and it converts to estrogen, a 60-year-old man will have more estrogen in his body than the 60-year-old woman he is married to. He will start exhibiting behavior that may start to surprise even him -- calling the children every day, learning how to cook and worrying about home decorating or how the dishtowels are folded and put away.
The andropausal man and the post-menopausal woman are more alike than any other time in their adult lives. This is when, with a bit of work, they can make peace with their partners, recall shared history, experience love in a new way and make relevant how it relates to the parts of their lives that they actively care about.
More research needs to be devoted to the effectiveness of testosterone treatment for men, similar to the Women's Health Initiative studies on the effects of giving women unopposed estrogen and then other forms of Hormone Replacement Therapies. In the meantime, my advice to men is "embrace the change."
Jill Shaw Ruddock is the author of the book for post menopausal women, "The Second Half of Your Life," published in the UK by Random House/Ebury in 2011. It will be published in the USA in 2015. She is the Founder and Chairman of the Second Half Foundation and The Second Half Centre in London. She is currently writing a new book about the aging man.