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Could Your Husband Be Going Through Manopause?

The equipment may be different, but the symptoms can be the same.

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photo of man with paper bag over his head that has sad face drawn on it
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Tired, grumpy, not in the mood — the equipment may be different, but the symptoms can be the same.

Look at him just sitting there with his graying Clooney hair and trendy dad bod. The nerve. Meanwhile, menopausal women dress for every season in a single outfit. I’m cold! I’m sweating! Are you going to finish that? (*Shakes fist because we know damn well mom bod will never be a thing.)

Truth is, guys don’t get off scot-free when it comes to age-related hormone hell. As many as 40 percent of men over 45 suffer from symptoms of low testosterone: fatigue, brain fog, fat accumulation, loss of muscle and bone mass, sleep disruption, mood changes and lack of sexual desire. And most don’t even know why.

That’s because andropause, the dude version of menopause, is much more gradual. When women hit menopause, it’s pretty obvious — our estrogen level drops, we stop getting our period and hot flashes ensue.

“An average male starts losing one or two testosterone points a year starting at the age of 30,” says Steven Murphy, M.D., a board-certified internal medicine and obesity specialist with a concentration in hormone optimization. “By the time they’re feeling the longer-term effects of male androgen deficiency, it can look like depression or just fatigue.”

Some men chalk symptoms up to getting older and don’t think being tired is worth mentioning to their doctor. Or, they’re embarrassed to admit a drop in libido. “There is less stigma,” Murphy finds, but “around 1 in 3 men still have some shyness or feelings of inadequacy.”

So he’ll listen for things like: “I’ve lost my edge,” “I’m having trouble sleeping,” “I don’t have any desire,” “I can’t focus,” “I can’t recover from exercise, I am sore.”

A simple blood test can determine testosterone levels and even if they’re low, “not all men need testosterone replacement therapy,” says Murphy. “Some need nutrient help. Some need weight loss. Some need testosterone-producing stimulants. Some need exercise and sleep. First we try behavioral treatment, diet and medical screening for common causes: obesity, sleep apnea, thyroid dysfunction, medications that interfere with testosterone effects like Propecia for hair loss.” Another drug you might consider for hair loss is Rogaine. (As always, you should take any concerns about hair loss to a doctor.)

The adage that married men live longer isn’t a myth. Neither is male menopause. If you notice a dip in the quality of his — and your — life, say something, and then encourage him to speak with his doctor.

“Symptoms can be insidious and really affect relationships. Often, men aren't even aware of their suffering until a partner points this out. Low testosterone can result in frailty and muscle loss. If you lose muscle mass, you can be at risk of hip fractures and early death. If caught early and treated, there’s a high likelihood of reversing the effects."