"Male Menopause"- Andropause
An Oriental Medical Perspective
Cameron Bishop DAOM, L.Ac.

We all know about our lady friend's menopause. In Chinese Medicine it is called the "Second Spring" when the body becomes more fertile in wisdom in exchange for the end of childbearing years. If one takes care of themselves before the change in the late forties, they have a bettter "Second Spring". Often overwork, poor nutrition, lack of or too much exercise, and sleep problems all creat new problems in the later part of life. The body just cannot hold the same pattern of youth and begins to breakdown. Like a untended piece of land, the body too can be culitvated back into productivity given enough time and mindfulness.

I have noticed with my male patients in their forties,  there starts a observation of decline in the astute. Mild to wild symptoms become more aware.

Physical Symptoms are:

• Decreased stamina
• Fatigue
• Decrease in exercise effectiveness
• More frequent infections
• Decreased urine flow, strength and/or stop stopping
• Stiffness in joints
• Feeling fat or a plateau in weightloss
• Gaining weight for the first time in life
• Erectile Dysfunction
• Increase in time needed to recover from injuries
• Sleep disturbances

Psychological Symptoms can be:

• Irritability
• Depression
• Anxiety, nervousness and/or panic attacks
• Loss of libido
• Less will power
• Loss of sexual enjoyment
• Loss of interest and self confidence
• Feeling "time is running out"

These symptoms vary by constitution, age, drug/alcohol/smoking use, genetics, lifestyle, work situation, stress level, nutrition, exercise habits, environment and more. Western medicine is beginning to recognize the process through symptom management. Much like menopause, the first step has been hormone treatment and we all know how that ended up. Emotional symptoms are often treated with medication that temporarily relieve the symptoms and often aggravate other conditions. For example, anti-depression medication may create improved sleep and mood but aggravate the libido, increase erectile difficulties and decrease the ability to ejaculate. Some cause weight gain and/or constipation. The use of testosterone can make you feel temporarily like a god but can increase weight, decrease natural testosterone production, lead to hair loss and more.

An Oriental medical approach is to understand the interrelation of the symptoms into common syndromes. The first is to divide it into a change in the yang chi. An increase can lead to outbursts of anger, high blood pressure, certain sleep disturbances. A decrease can lead to feeling cold, bags under eyes, lack of will to do things, urination and sexual problems. The yin chi is also looked at which is less usual but be symptoms of the decline is temperature variations, energy at night rather than the day, sleep problems, and name a few. Both the yin and yang chi have variations amongst the organ systems and the complexity is beyond the scope of this article other than to say an accurate Oriental Medical diagnosis can lead to a complete treatment strategy to allow a healthy ride into retirement.

As men we need to decide which strategy we want to have for aging

• Live fast and hard and leave a beautiful corpse
• Follow blindly the path before me
• Ride even and consistently for the long ride, with self knowledge

Simple changes in diet, exercise, nutrition, and an addition to herbal and acupuncture therapy when necessary from a holistic, rather than symptom based approach,  allows the body's ecosystem to be the healthiest. Giving up the model of our body being a car - broke, fixed or rigged can be one of the healthiest paradigm shifts we can do. Tending to our bodies ecosystem can allow the storms and changes of seasons in life to go the most gently. We become what we cultivate.