Thursday, July 15, 2010

Barbara Kantrowitz & Pat Wingert Think Men Have "Venus Envy" - It's Called Andropause, Look It Up
Newsweek seems to be working to keep itself relevant by being controversial. Awhile back they had an article by a gay man saying gay men cannot play "straight" in plays/tv/film. Recently they featured an article saying marriage is no longer relevant.

The article I'm looking at here - Why Men Have Venus Envy - is going to get a lot less attention because it's about men and aging - it's been online for 9 days and has received zero comments. But this piece is equally designed to be provocative, even though it's wrong to the point of being stupid.

Here is the article, I have some things to say below.

Why Men Have Venus Envy

Now that menopause has come out of the closet, men seem to be claiming it as their own. We object.

Barbara Kantrowitz and Pat Wingert


When we were writing The Menopause Book a few years ago, we were often amused by how people reacted to our topic. To women of a certain age, we were rock stars. They had so many questions about the changes in their bodies and were grateful for answers based on science rather than quackery. Men were not so enthralled. In fact, we used to joke that simply uttering “menopause” was the fastest way to get rid of a boring guy at a cocktail party.

Since then, the M word seems to have come out of the closet. Symptoms have been dissected on talk shows, magazine cover stories, and even a long-running hit musical. Talking about your hot flashes at the office is not the taboo it used to be (although we still wouldn’t recommend it—TMI). And, most important, there has been an explosion of research about the effects of menopause that has been covered extensively in the mainstream media.

Maybe that helps explain why, suddenly, it seems like men want in on the menopause action. A recent slew of headlines about so-called male menopause gives the impression that men go through a parallel transition at midlife and deserve just as much sympathy as women do. How ironic that a phase of life many women would like to skip seems to have generated a kind of Venus envy. But the fact is, guys, menopause is ours. You can’t have it.

Technically, male menopause is an oxymoron. That’s because it’s physically impossible for men to experience menopause. No man that we know of has ever been visited by what our grandmothers used to refer to as Aunt Flo: a monthly menstrual period. The technical definition of menopause is no visits from Aunt Flo for 12 months. But if you don’t have monthly periods, there’s nothing to stop. Hence, no male menopause.

You’d think that would be the end of the argument, but facts have nothing to do with this. Instead, there seems to be a determined effort by men to deny the effects of aging. They’re not getting older; they have a condition.

In fact, a small percentage of men may actually have a condition that explains some symptoms, but it’s not menopause. The correct name is “late-onset hypogonadism” and identifying it was the subject of a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine that inspired many of the latest “male menopause” headlines. European researchers surveyed 3,369 men between the ages of 40 and 79 and found that a very small number of them suffered from a drop in testosterone levels and three symptoms that appeared to affect their sexual health: erectile dysfunction, reduced sex drive, and fewer morning erections.

A few caveats here. First of all, the study found that only 2 percent of men appeared to be suffering from this. Compare that with 100 percent of women who go through menopause. Frankly, there’s no comparison. Also, all of these difficulties relate to sexual health. Granted, that is important, but real menopause affects every part of a woman’s body, not just her G spot. Even the lead scientist in this study, Dr. Frederick C. W. Wu of the University of Manchester in England, concedes that there is a risk of overestimating the number of men who suffer from this condition. The data about symptoms came from interviews with patients, not clinical observations by doctors, so it might not be completely accurate. And many of the men also suffered from other medical problems, particularly obesity, that may have hurt their sexual health.

We’re not trying to be anti-male here. In fact, we’re trying to be helpful. Men who may be thinking of taking testosterone as a remedy would do well to recall the experience of millions of women who routinely received hormones for menopause until a massive federal study called the Women’s Health Initiative indicated that this therapy increased the risk of breast cancer and stroke. There are still many unanswered questions about the safety of testosterone therapy (for a summary, click here). Until there’s more research, it would be wise to be wary.

But back to the larger issue. Menopause is ours. We have earned it by enduring decades of menstrual periods, mood swings, and all the other inconveniences that come with being a woman. It wasn’t always fun, but it was our life. For most women, menopause isn’t just an end to all that; it’s also a moment of psychological and emotional reckoning. When your periods stop, you know something has changed irrevocably in your body. You may exercise and watch your weight and use sunscreen every day to keep looking as young as possible. But inside, your body is definitely aging. Women can’t be in denial about that the way men can.

As we have become more comfortable talking about these changes, women have begun to share valuable information and are talking more openly with their doctors about what they are experiencing. These are all good, positive developments.

As for men, start your own conversation. There’s beer in the fridge. You can get it yourself.

OK ladies, let me be clear here - we do not want your menopause, and your ignorance of male biology makes you sound ignorant. Calling andropause "venus envy" might make a catchy title for an article, but it's flat wrong.

Let's clear up a few things - no one with a clue calls it male menopause - it's andropause. And andropause is not the same thing as the medical condition known as “late-onset hypogonadism.” Andropause is far more common than the article suggests, because they're looking at a medical disorder, not what nearly all men have to deal with as they age.

Unfortunately, a lot of people still wrongly refer to the condition as "male menopause," which generates dumb articles such as the one above. No matter what someone calls it, it's a very real condition.

This article comes from Discovery Health, where they really should know better than to call it "male menopause":

Most people know that women experience menopause, but did you know that some men go through a kind of male menopause? For men who believe they are going through the proverbial midlife crisis, some doctors and researchers say you may actually be experiencing a form of male menopause called "andropause."

Shocking as it may be to some men, male menopause, or andropause, is becoming more widely recognized and accepted by physicians for the changes many middle-aged men experience — from energy loss to depression to loss of libido to sexual dysfunction. And some clinicians are recommending that certain men experiencing these symptoms, along with a host of others such as decreased bone density and weight gain, seek hormone replacement therapy and other treatments.

"It's like puberty in reverse," Jed Diamond, a California psychotherapist and author of "Male Menopause" and the forthcoming book, "Surviving Male Menopause", says of andropause. Like puberty, the changes that andropause wreaks in aging men, Diamond says, are "hormonal, psychological, interpersonal, social, sexual and spiritual."

Andropause is characterized by a loss of testosterone — the hormone that makes men men. Most men see testosterone levels drop as they age. However, some men are impacted more than others are. Diamond says that as many as 25 million American males between ages 40 and 55 are experiencing some degree of male menopause today.

"Male andropause can be very insidious," explains Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a Manchester, Conn., cardiologist board certified in anti-aging medicine. The loss of testosterone, which can happen to men as young as 35, is gradual, with testosterone levels dropping just 1 percent to 1.5 percent annually. Unlike the precipitous loss of estrogen that women hitting menopause face, the gradual loss of testosterone may take years to exact its mark on men with a host of symptoms not unlike changes menopausal women experience.

Irritability, fatigue, depression, reduced libido and erection problems are hallmark signs of andropause. "I felt like I didn't want to move," says Cecil Dorsey of Vernon, Conn. The 68-year-old retired truck driver, who discovered via a blood test nearly four years ago that his testosterone levels dropped, said, "I just didn't want to be bothered by anything."

A Fresh View on an Old Condition

Although the first study on male andropause was published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" in the mid-1940s, it's only recently that the U.S. medical community has taken notice of this condition, says Dr. Adrian Dobs, an endocrinologist and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Typically, men suffering from the symptoms of andropause are treated for a specific medical condition. And therein lies the problem, Diamond maintains. For example, an andropausal male may be diagnosed with depression and prescribed an antidepressant, and both doctor and patient think the man's problem has been addressed. However, if that man has other symptoms of male menopause such as loss of libido, the antidepressant will only exaggerate that problem.

While it's true that not ALL men suffer from andropause, the number of those who do is rapidly increasing due to all the feminizing environmental estrogens that we are exposed to in plastics, auto exhaust, aerosol sprays of all kinds, pesticides, air fresheners, and even our foods (soy, licorice root, and many others).

Further, while menopause is short term (3-5 years on average), andropause starts as early as 30-35 years of age and continues until a man dies. The results are often misdiagnosed, as mentioned above, as depression, impotence, and other things that are treated with drugs - antidepressants, viagra, and so on. But the underlying condition is dropping testosterone levels.
Andropause is usually caused by a very gradual testosterone deficiency and an increase in sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) that occurs from age 35 onwards. By contrast, women have a sudden onset of menopause around age 51. Testosterone declines 10% every decade after age 30 (1% per year).
Symptoms of low testosterone include reduced muscle mass, belly fat, moobs (man boobs), depression, irritability, prostate growth (usually caused by estrogen, not testosterone), loss of bone mass, cognitive decline, higher HDL cholesterol, and low sex drive/impotence.

Some things we can do: avoid grapefruit (increases the conversion of testosterone to estrogen), take resveratrol (about 250 mgs/day of trans-resveratrol), exercise (especially weight lifting), lose weight (especially belly fat), avoid soy products (especially protein powders with isoflavones), take zinc and fish oil supplements, and get adequate sleep.

If you decide to do HRT with a testosterone product (cream gel, injection), be sure to ask your doctor about something to control estrogen (or use an over the counter product like Novodex XT from Gaspari Nutrition or an ADT supplement [1,4,6-androstatriene-3,17-dione]) - the connection between higher testosterone and prostate cancer is a result of test being converted by the body into estrogen and estrodiol, not the testosterone itself.

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