What is ‘andropause’? And how can understanding it help us in retirement?
I’ve been reading recently about ‘andropause’. Have you heard of this term? I’m fascinated with the idea of a ‘male menopause’ and wanted to research if it’s even based on any scientific fact.
What I discovered was that although andropause is often called ‘the male menopause’, it’s not actually a medically recognised term. You might be wondering why, when ‘menopause’ is.
Well, the reason is that although the male hormone testosterone decreases as men age, that decrease is much less that the hormone changes that women experience when their oestrogen levels drop dramatically as they pass child-bearing age and into later life.
So the term ‘pause’ doesn’t really apply. And instead, you will find that the medical term for this decrease in testosterone is actually called ‘Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome’. And it can certainly affect quality of life for men.
A drop in testosterone
How? Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome can cause a low sex drive (low libido), erectile dysfunction, weight gain especially around the waist, tiredness and mood changes (low mood and/or irritability). Men with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes are more likely to suffer from testosterone deficiency, while depression makes men more susceptible, too. Some studies show weight training can increase levels of testosterone, as can reducing through a healthy diet and lifestyle, with plenty of exercise.
But what I found when researching this was that a lot of the ways to ease the symptoms of ‘andropause’ were consistent with the kind of lifestyle changes that can make us all feel better in later life, andropause, menopause, or no pause at all.
I’m a firm believer that retirement isn’t particularly good for your health. Why? Because inactivity is not a natural state. Not having to get up and out of the house may be wonderful for a short period of time, but when it becomes a daily routine, it will invariably impact on one’s overall health. In other words, being active is essential for good health.
The negative side effects of retirement
Research from the Institute of Economic Affairs backs this up and suggests that retirement may initially benefit health – by reducing stress and creating time for other activities, but adverse effects increase as retirement goes on.
It found retirement increases the chances of suffering from clinical depression by around 40% and of having at least one diagnosed physical illness by 60%.
Loneliness is a huge aspect of retirement. When someone’s social life is tied up with their work, retirement does take it away. Those living alone because of bereavement or divorce are more at risk. As a result, mental health problems are common and according to the Mental Health Foundation, one in five experiences depression.
Lifestyle choices also catch up with you. Smoking, poor diet, and drinking alcohol all contribute to illnesses, including cardio-vascular problems, respiratory disorders, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and many cancers: 3 out of 5 cancers occur in people aged 65 and over.
In addition to this, a new study published in the IZA Institute of Labor Economics showed that early retirement can accelerate cognitive decline. The most significant impact was a delay in recall, which is a factor widely considered a predictor of dementia – which includes Alzheimer’s, a disease that already affects just under 6 million Americans and is projected to affect more than 14 million by 2050. The researchers concluded, “social engagement and connectedness may simply be the single most powerful factor for cognitive performance in old age.”
Weighing up retirement
Although a decrease in a hormone level can certainly have an adverse effect on our wellbeing, it’s a useful exercise to look at everything we are doing in later life, and weighing up whether in fact retirement, rather than being good for our health, is actually causing more problems than it is solving.
Growing older brings with it multiple bodily changes. The progress to death is inevitable, in other words, the ‘anti-aging’ movement is a fruitless effort. But, what is not fruitless is intervention that is safe and effective to delay the inevitable, to reduce symptomatology and to improve the quality and perhaps even the quantity of life.
This is my mission: to help retiring baby-boomers, menopausal, andropausal or otherwise, transform themselves, by rebelling against the aimlessness and traps of retirement and reaching out for a new worthy goal in the afternoon of their lives.
You deserve to live a life of passion and to go out with a bang, not a whimper. Through personal growth and mind-set coaching, I can help you to rebel against the traditional concept of retirement and choose health, freedom and fun instead.
George Jerjian’s new flagship online course – “Dare to discover your purpose,” will be available shortly.