(Male Menopause - Part 1)
"Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
-- Satchel Paige
The changes came so gradually they were almost imperceptible. For most of his life he had been outgoing, happy and positive, bursting with energy and vitality and excited about life. Then one day a close friend asked him what was going on. At first he denied that anything was wrong. Then he tried to blame external circumstances for what was happening. But when he finally and honestly faced it, he had to admit that his drive, strength, energy and enthusiasm for life and love were just not what they used to be. He thought that he had many blessings in this lifetime, yet for no obvious reason, a pervading mental and physical tiredness, perhaps even depression, had descended upon him. His body had new aches and pains it had never had before. He had become moody and irritable. He had sleep problems for the first time. At home, family relations had become increasingly stressed and his social life was zilch. Loss of libido and intermittent failure to achieve an erection deepened his distress.
Sound familiar? Perhaps this describes that is happening to you or someone you know. With the baby boomers well-ensconced in their 50's, biochemical and physiological changes have fostered changes in their experience and expression of life. When talking about the hormonal changes associated with aging, what we most often hear about is menopause and hormone replacement therapy. What we don't hear about is the hormonal changes men go through.
The media and medical silence about men's hormonal changes is due in part to our male conditioning -- real men don't cry or whine and we are supposed to be strong and push through challenges with stoic self-sufficiency. We rarely seek help for our medical problems. We define ourselves through our force, power and will. Perhaps another reason we hear so little about male menopause is because we are embarrassed and our egos tell us we are less masculine if we own up to having decreased libido.
The physiological aspects of male aging are presented in the myth of Tithonus, the lover of Aurora, goddess of dawn. Aurora loved Tithonus so much that she asked her father, Zeus, to grant him eternal life. Unfortunately she forgot to request eternal youth for her lover, who began to experience the failure of his libido at about age 50. At age 60 to 70 he was somewhat impotent. By the time he was 80 years old, Tithonus had lost much of his muscle strength, and by the time he turned 90, he walked around stooped, because his bone density was disappearing.
By the time he was 100 years old, he had developed some age-related senility, which was shown in the myth by the fact that he babbled incessantly. At this stage, love's sweet bloom had wilted, and Aurora just wanted to be rid of him. Alas, Tithonus was immortal. Since she could not make him disappear, Aurora changed him into a cicada instead. Thus, the chirping of a cicada is actually the incessant babbling of a senile old man.