Posted on: September 27, 2019
Macho Men & Andropause
Stereotypes about men abound.
For example, the macho man is tough. He never whines about pain. He just keeps on going, no matter what. In fact, pre-GPS, he’d never stop to ask directions because that would be admitting he was lost!
Macho man, high-risk behavior, ignoring the body’s symptoms, is one theory for why women outlive men.
In my practice, it’s usually women who are more proactive about preventative health care than men. It’s usually the wife who drags her reluctant husband to see me. “There’s nothing wrong with me!” he says, at first. Later, he’s grateful.
The “Pause” that Depresses
In both males and females, hormones decline as we age.
Menopause signals the cessation of menstruation and the end of a woman’s childbearing years.
So-called “male menopause” is andropause. Men aged 40 to 70 may experience a 60 percent decline in hormones.
Lower hormone levels in men (specifically testosterone, DHEA, and thyroid) result in symptoms associated with aging, such as depression, low sex drive, fatigue, irritability, loss of muscle mass, erectile dysfunction, and more.
Men often think if a symptom appears, it’s “just” due to aging. They think nothing can be done about it, so why think about it.
Too often, men ignore their symptoms. That can be dangerous, even fatal.
Straight Talk About ED and CVD
When men experience erectile dysfunction (ED), they may blame aging or stress. The macho man may not want to talk about it, feeling his manhood or identity is threatened.
Often, making love then becomes a stressful event. Talking about it may embarrass both husband and wife. Each may feel guilty, wondering if they are somehow to blame.
Some men try an erectile enhancing drug, such as Viagra, without investigating the underlying cause.
Let’s demystify erectile dysfunction.
When a man is sexually aroused, the arteries to his penis relax, allowing more blood to flow into it. The increased blood in the penis fills the spongiform bodies (tissue that swells like tiny water balloons), making the erection firm.
Although the arteries relax to allow more blood to flow into the penis, just the opposite happens to the veins there. Normally, the veins carry blood away. But during arousal, the veins clamp off, causing the blood to stay in the penis. This maintains the erection.
Erectile dysfunction may signal that the blood supply going into the penis is blocked, or that the veins are leaking the blood out on the other side. It can be an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or diabetes.
In other words, it’s usually a circulatory issue, and it can be fixed. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
However, ignoring it could lead to an early grave.
CVD – the Silent Killer
Heart disease, also known as the silent killer, is still the world’s leading cause of death.
It’s called “silent” because few, if any, warning signs appear before a heart attack or stroke kills. Even athletes in their 40s, seemingly in perfect health, die from CVD.
It doesn’t have to be that way. I screen for these seemingly silent processes and advise my patients on how to correct them. You can increase your joy in life (and love) at the same time.
You want your love to last, right? (Wives, you want your husbands to last, too!) Monogamous, regular sex has been proven to extend your life. The more you have it (for men) and the higher the quality (for women), the healthier you are.
But that wasn’t happening for Eric.
Eric was a successful, busy executive. He worked long hours, often missing meals or grabbing fast food, running to his next meeting. His wife and kids understood how important his work was to him.
The years rolled by and the kids grew older. In his off-hours, Eric slumped into middle age on his recliner, with his beer, chips, and remote control close by. He said he was just tired from work, but his wife worried about him.
He lacked the energy for anything beyond work, eat, TV, sleep, and repeat. His belly (even his breasts) grew bigger and his daily rut grew deeper.
Fat and fatigued, Eric lost his desire for most activities, including sex … and he had difficulty sustaining an erection.
His wife was smart. She knew his symptoms shouldn’t be ignored. Even though he didn’t want to talk about it, she loved him enough to keep urging him to seek answers.
He finally booked an appointment with me.
Discovering Causes – Delivering Results
Eric was sheepish about having gained so much weight around his middle.
I explained that belly fat is especially toxic – it’s almost a self-perpetuating monster in middle age. As hormones dip, weight gain around the middle is common. Compounding the problem, vital organs, surrounded by fat, become sluggish.
Even worse, belly fat changes what testosterone there is into estrogen! Low testosterone suppresses the urge for physical activity. Plus, his blood sugar was leaning toward diabetes, which explained his junk food and alcohol cravings.
Eric’s lab tests revealed that his estrogen was too high and his testosterone was too low. This helped explain the breast enlargement and exhaustion. His suboptimal thyroid hormones were another fatigue and weight gain culprit.
Fortunately, he learned the main cause of his ED. Eric had markers for circulatory inflammation – an early warning of CVD. If blood vessels become hardened, blood can’t flow properly and erections can’t happen normally.
Because his father died when he was a teen, Eric was now motivated – he didn’t want to follow that path.
With his wife and family’s support, Eric changed. Together, they committed to a better lifestyle: healthy meals, less screen time, and more movement.
After correcting his nutritional deficiencies and balancing his hormones, Eric regained his energy and enthusiasm for life (including in the bedroom). He became more physically fit, less stressed, and more productive at work.
Eric’s family and career benefitted from his commitment to become healthier.
How about you?
If you know someone following the same downward spiral path that Eric was on, would you please discuss that “difficult” topic with him? For his sake.
Let him know there’s nothing to be ashamed of. And ignoring a problem doesn’t help – and it could hurt – a lot.
It’s easy to book a complimentary 15-minute appointment with me by clicking here.