Thursday, June 13, 2013

Older men and Andropause or senior slump

In light of a just concluded series of workshops on gay men's health for older men forty and upwards it was interesting to see and hear some of the materials presented and that many of us have lived to see the marker despite an HIV /AIDS pandemic that wiped out and is still though slowly doing its damage to friends near and far. Despite the new technologies in pharmaceuticals and lifestyle choices that can extend our quality of life and lifespan we still as gay and bisexual men have to be cognizant of maintaining as we age gracefully and be ever more vigilant. I had done this post some years ago on my sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch how timely that it has come to be relevant some four years later, have fun:

Older men and Andropause or senior slump

As we age and live longer as gay and bisexual men I thought it prudent on the strength of a Facebook discussion thread in one of many Gay men over forty group/pages to share this information. I was shocked to learn that so many men have erectile dysfunction issues or diabetes leading to similar problems coupled with lowering testosterone levels. Several men want to of course continue living in healthy relationships especially worldwide with gay marriage becoming a reality co-habitation is made even more a social norm. However sexual health is crucial for men if such co-habitation is to be any meaningful separate and apart from friendships.

Andropause is the equivalent to or mimics the menopause condition that older women have in their years of life. It is basically a steady drop in the male hormone testosterone below the normal levels over time which affects nearly every other thing in the males’ body which can lead to erectile dysfunction, mood swings similar to menopause in women and fat deposits around the mid section of the body which may eventually lead to other lifestyle diseases and problems such as diabetes.

It is also called ADAM – Androgen decline in the aging male,

SHAM – shifting hormones in the aging male and another colloquial name is macho pause.

Symptoms and suggestions

Symptoms include loss of desire for sex as interest in sex falls otherwise known as the senior slump, erectile dysfunction and paranoia due to lack of sexual desire with frustration setting in. Irritability and depression with loss of sleep are spin offs as well due to the problems in their respective relationships. Hot flashes and severe mood swings with more frequency as the problem ages. On an average andropause may set in as the testis shrinks slowly and the adrenal gland that produces testosterone begins a slow decline of production of the hormone thus decreasing the availability in the male body usually in the early to mid fifties in most men, it can be earlier but it progresses as one gets older. It unfortunately a natural process for the testosterone levels in a man to fall but there may be some things one can do to maybe delay or significantly slow this occurrence.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle is one broad way then exercise and nutrition come into play as well. Avoid smoking, proper stress management skills, resting well, lowering or eliminating alcohol intake and eating well are recommended though simplistic as they may sound. Avoid or seek to decrease the physical condition of central obesity or fat around the tummy although our Jamaican culture prides “Big Belly Men” as sugar daddies or a sign of prosperity in life it can be dangerous especially as it relates to andropause. As the belly gets bigger the testosterone levels get lower and the testis get smaller as well. The actual belly fat is a sign that a man is actually producing less testosterone among other ailments and conditions as well.

Back pain is not necessarily a sign of andropause as Jamaicans like to attribute sexual prowess by the conditions of the back there may be other reasons why an older man may have back pain such as heavy object lifting or improper posture while seated and took much weight by the pot belly pulling on the rest of the body. There is no specific diet that promotes testosterone production one has to manage every day diet reducing fat intake, carbohydrates and sugars. A test is available known as a Testosterone Level which can determine the levels of the hormone in the body and possible limited testosterone treatment but not all men qualify for this kind of intervention. If a man has a very large prostate or signs of prostate cancer, heart disease, liver disease then they do not qualify for testosterone treatment. However if one doesn’t have those predisposing factors then there are dosages of testosterone that can be administered by a qualified professional.

Cardiovascular effects

The fall in testosterone levels has a number of negative effects on cardiovascular health it modifies the system, it can accelerate hardening of the blood vessels, the belly fat around the tummy area often time seeps into the bloodstream which speed up the levels of cholesterol which causes impaired circulation to the heart or long term heart disease.

Andropause can speed up the aging process tremendously. 

The emotional and behavioural changes can lead to violent reactions which paranoia men are usually very unhappy due to erectile dysfunction and with both partners in a heterosexual sense having meno and andropause it can be very confrontational. Services are available through sex therapists and Urologists (specialist who looks at problems of the urinary system) who can determine and recommend ways to resolve the issues, the urologist can test for testosterone levels and prescribe treatment where appropriate.

Bone density issues

Bone density may be affected as well as testosterone is a substance produced in the testis and the adrenals that an effect on several other parts of the body’s function. The hormone with the adrenals helps to build protein and influence the production blood cells in the bone marrow and bone formation so if one testosterone levels begin to fall one can loose bone mass thus affecting cell production which may lead to osteoporosis where the bones themselves become porous making the individual prone to fractures easier than normal.

So fellas begin to adjust your lifestyle as you get older we too have our challenges as we age not only the ladies.

Peace and tolerance



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