Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!


Male Menopause

Male Menopause: A Recent Concept

Male menopause is a relatively recent concept referring to a kind of emotional or psychological crisis that occurs for some men during their 40s, 50s or early 60s. Because men do not menstruate, menopause is a somewhat inappropriate term for this male phenomenon. It is also referred to as mid-life crisis.

Male menopause or mid-life crisis typically manifests itself as symptoms of depression for no obvious reason, intense reflection on the direction one's life has taken as well as on what the future holds, and perhaps some personality and behavioral changes that may put a strain on relationships.

Just as estrogen production diminishes in women during menopause, so does testosterone production in males during this stage of life. The physical consequences are much less dramatic for men than for women, but some men do experience changes. These include taking longer to achieve an erection, less strongly felt ejaculation, and a longer refractory period (after ejaculation, the time it takes for a man to be able to ejaculate again).

Symptoms of Male Menopause

Most men also experience gradually declining levels of strength and endurance. On the other hand, ejaculatory control is likely to be increased, and the man remains fully able to cause a pregnancy. Furthermore, regular physical conditioning can combat much of the decline in strength and endurance.

For some men, the physical changes of mid-life signal a threat to their masculinity and virility, setting in motion psychological distress and behavioral changes. There are those men who experience mid-life as so threatening that they seek to prove their youthfulness, strength and virility by seeking out multiple sexual encounters, perhaps with younger partners, or by participating in strenuous physical activities.

Not all men experience male menopause, and of the men that do, only about 25 percent are profoundly affected. The duration of a mid-life crisis is highly variable. It may be concentrated into a few months, or it may last up to several years.

Generally, having a supportive and understanding family and being able to discuss the ongoing concerns of mid-life will help men negotiate this sometimes troubling time without major residual problems.

For further information you may want to read: "The Menopause Self-help Book" by Susan M. Lark, M.D.; "The Quickest Ways to Handle Problems and Discomfort: 60 Second Menopause Management" by Carol R. Schulz; "The Silent Passage: Menopause" by Carol Sheehy; and "A Woman Doctor's Guide to Menopause" by Lois Jovanovic, M.D. with Suzanne Levert.

Copyright 2002 Sinclair Intimacy Institute