This is a guest post by my husband, Tom Brooks.
Hello readers, Tom here! Since turning 55, my wife began calling me ‘Grumps’ instead of ‘Gramps’. I realized I was changing but didn’t know why until came across an article about Jed Diamond’s book, Male Menopause – this one is for the guys!
GRUMPY old men have long been an established figure of fun. In recent years they’ve even had their own TV shows – but now they’re up for therapy. Now is seems that crustiness among us mid-life chaps isn’t just advertisement – it’s real!
Now it’s a known fact that most men experience ‘change of life’ symptoms. Officially it’s labeled IMS – irritable male syndrome, a condition resulting in depression, moodiness, anxiety and low sex drive. Before you roll your eyes and say this is another crazy notion, Dr. Gerald Lincoln, of the Medical Research Council on Human Reproductive Sciences, who coined the term, IMS, emphasizes that there is a gradual decline in testosterone levels in men after the age of 30 which may be linked to mood changes and irritability. Jed Diamond, a 61 year old American psychotherapist specializing in men’s health, says it’s an identifiable condition resulting in depression, moodiness, anxiety and low sex drive. He personally interviewed hundreds of people and has concluded that IMS can, and does, destroy relationships – it almost broke up his own marriage.
Testosterone, like it or not, is that much publicized male hormone that becomes the cause of everything from adolescent pimples to road rage. In all fairness, it is fundamental to the development of male sexual characteristics. IMS, however, is caused by more than just hormones. IMS is a multidimensional problem, in which hormonal fluctuations interact with psychological and sociological factors which can affect men strongly, particularly in mid-life.
According to Diamond, there are four related aspects of IMS.
- Hormonal functions, particularly testosterone affecting physical and mental changes.
- Physiological changes in neurotransmitter levels like dopamine and serotonin, linked to depression.
- Stress levels, such as job concerns or whether they have enough money to retire.
- Male identity issues, such as finding their place and importance in society.
When does this normally occur? Andropause or male menopause generally occurs between the ages of 40-55 but sometimes as early as 35 or as late as 65 – and not all men go through it! As mentioned, it is tempting to lump many symptoms together – such as anxiety and irritability and their erosive effect on relationships – under what is loosely called mid-life crisis but IMS adds the hormonal and physiological aspects. When Diamond conducted an on-line survey on Men’s Health website he received over 10,000 responses from men and women discussing how IMS destroyed their happy lives.
Treatable? Diamond believes IMS is treatable using a combination of mental, spiritual and physical exercises but also advocates testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which remains controversial issue having regarded in the past as both unproven and also possible linked to prostate cancer, while this has been clinically unproven. Other experts recommend (HGH), human growth hormone as a safer, more effective route.
The medical world remains far from decided on the issue of male menopause itself, although more and more medical authorities are accepting it. Dr. Lincoln discussed his work along colleagues dealing with young men on testosterone replacement therapy for testicular cancer or other conditions, and if they came off their supplement, they became depressed and sometimes irritable. They could tell you if you had given them a placebo pill instead of testosterone. So, men clearly require a critical level of testosterone to maintain male behavior.
Dr. Lincoln also maintains that TRT is not a quick-fix solution for age-related problems. He points out other medical conditions, such as diabetes or low thyroid function, can cause impotence. He commends Diamonds book and encourages more research into the listed men’s health issues.
On a lighter note, comedian Elayne Boosler says: “When women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another county!” For men on the verge of TRT, however, the solutions may not be quite so simple.