Men can be deeply affected by a variety of changes to their bodies and minds that start during their 40’s and 50’s. Night sweats in men and hot flashes in men are relatively common. Three different underlying physical and chemical processes – a mid-life crisis, male menopause, or andropause – may be the root cause for these changes. Read on to understand what these are, what the most common symptoms are, and how to manage the impacts of these symptoms.
What is Male Menopause – Manopause?
Manopause. Male menopause. Midlife crisis. Andropause.
These terms are used interchangeably in the marketplace, and are confusing because men do not have the same drastic fluctuations and changes in sex hormones that underlie the female menopause.
Yet, so many men aged 40-60 experience such significant emotional and physical changes that we do need a name for this stage of life. This will allow men to start to talk openly with their family and employers about their challenges, and seek medical help when appropriate.
Whereas andropause is a true medical condition, often caused by injury, disease or medication, and there is overlap between the symptoms of andropause and midlife, we will use the terms “male midlife” and “male midlife crisis” to recognize the significance of the male experience of aging without confusing it with hormone change.
Andropause is a medical condition that exists when there are no or extremely low testosterone levels (Testosterone – the main male sex hormone). True andropause exists only in men who have no functioning testicles, due to illness, disease or accident. This can happen at any time of life – some men are born with andropause – so andropause is not specific to mid-life, although it may be diagnosed at that time if the testes stop functioning due to an illness or injury that happens mid-life.
What is the Male Mid-Life Crisis?
A mid-life crisis is a relatively common experience in men, and it can be an extremely chaotic and tumultuous time. A ‘typical’ midlife crisis is defined as a period or phase of life, usually between the ages of 40 and 60, when a man begins to question their accomplishments or achievements in their lives to date. While ‘crisis’ is the common term used for this experience, in fact it is a natural process that can, in the best case scenario, include re-assessment, adjustment and acceptance. A midlife crisis can also be a factor contributing to male menopause, which is discussed here.
Signs you may be experiencing a mid-life crisis as you turn 40 or older include:
Experiencing a sense of running out of time to make any life changes or life decisions
Experiencing general dissatisfaction with life, or questioning your existing life choices
Downhill From Here
A sense that your best days are behind you, that it’s all ‘downhill’ from here.
Increasing mood swings or mood changes
Feeling trapped in your life
Increasing anger at the world in general for being unfair
Withdrawing from work, family, and life in general
Increasing anger at specific individuals (such as bosses or family members) that you perceive to have held you back or been unsupportive
Exhibiting changes in behaviour, especially destructive ones that are listed below…
1. starting or increasing drinking and illicit drug use 2. starting or wanting to start an extra-marital affair. 3. spending money on atypical items (like a sports car or a new boat). 4. spending money recklessly and/or beyond your means. 5. Leaving or wanting to leave your family. 6. Taking up high-risk sports and hobbies like sky-diving or rock climbing. 7. Having more focus on and changing your appearance, by changing the way you dress, significantly increasing your workouts, or considering (or having) cosmetic surgery. 8. Dropping long-time friends and relationships
When will my Mid-life Crisis Go Away?
It is possible to come out of your mid-life crisis better and happier than when you went into it because a mid-life crisis leads to either ‘growth or destruction’. The growth happens when men consider the underlying causes of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, and make careful and thoughtful decisions and plans to change and address those causes.
Unfortunately, you may come out of your mid-life crisis much less happy and satisfied than when you went in if you follow the destruction path. This happens when poor choices and insufficient positive actions result in radical changes such as leaving your family or spending money beyond your means.
These destructive choices may feel like they are going to improve your life and your circumstances in the moment, but instead they often destabilize your life and remove carefully built community support systems.