In women, menopause involves an abrupt decrease of female sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, along with cessations of ovulation and menstruation. This marks an end to natural reproductive capability. In men, between the ages of 40 to 65, a gradual aging process with decrease of male sex hormones such as testosterone has been observed. Depending on differences in lifestyle, eating habits, genetics and stress levels, different symptoms can present quickly, and the aging process can increase rapidly. In the majority of situations, the aging symptoms can include but are not limited to mood changes, weight gain, decreased concentration and memory, increased cardiovascular risk, increased prostate cancer risk, decreased sexual functions such as weaker and shorter erection, premature ejaculation, decreased libido, increased nervousness, and a general sense of melancholy or weakening of muscles and bones. There are more wrinkles and duller sensory perception. Significant hair loss or graying can be seen. This is also an important “midlife crisis” stage in which men frequently examine their role in their life and their world. This can determine whether or not men can go through aging gracefully. Male menopause, unfortunately, does exist.
This period in men’s life is defined in Chinese Medicine as the end of the first life cycle of sixty years where the body has achieved peak growth and development and in the process of aging, at times rapidly. This is the time period to prepare for the next sixty-year cycle. Chinese believe that men and women, without illnesses, can live minimally to the age of 120. The goal of managing this Male Menopause period is to slow down or even temporarily reverse the aging process and preserve good life quality. There are ten essential steps to a successful male menopause – that is male aging.
Get rid of illnesses as early as possible.
We have the tendency to attribute all sorts of problems-such as fatigue, depression, incontinence, forgetfulness, or unsteadiness on the feet-to the process of getting old. In fact, most these problems are not part of the aging process and need to be treated. To get rid of illnesses does not mean merely managing the symptoms with drugs. For example, taking antihypertensive drugs for high blood pressure, Viagra for impotence, and aggressive lowering cholesterol statins for hyperlipidemia are just ways to manage the illnesses. Though they are necessary and vital especially in managing moderate to severe conditions, they are not curative ways in addressing the roots of the conditions. Sometimes the roots of the conditions might be genetic and difficult to remedy; we still need to strive for a cure or betterment of the conditions. For example, in hypertension, besides taking a medication, fundamental life style and eating habits need to be modified. Having sufficient exercise regimen, good eating habits and learning Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong can all be beneficial. In elevated cholesterol condition, intake of saturated fats needs to be avoided and intake of fresh fruits and vegetables should be encouraged. Regular physical examination is also a helpful way to discover problems earlier on.
Mild to moderate exposure to sun.
Direct strong sunlight can damage the skin as well as speed up the aging process of the body. Some exposure to mild morning or late afternoon sunshine is more suitable.
Avoid smoking and limit consumption of alcohol.
Smoking damages the lungs and different organs and tissues of the body. It dramatically increases cancer risks. Alcohol can dry up the skin, weaken the blood vessels, and impair the liver and other organs if it is used excessively. Moderate intake of alcohol is advisable.
Eat a healthful diet with good water.
Diet needs to be rich in vegetables and fibers. Avoid high fat and high calorie foods. Avoid overeating. Eat lighter at dinner. Long living men in the world live around areas where the water quality is superb. Good water quality with good trace mineral contents is vital for the functioning of our organs.
Embrace healthful exercise and learn self-healing.
Do exercises that incorporate cardiovascular and strengthening aspects. Do meditative exercises that can promote self-healing such as Tai Chi Chuan, Qi Gong, Eight Treasures, Dao-In, Yoga, swimming and walking. As we get older we actually need to be more physically active, since our bodies need to be moved more frequently to prevent stiffening and aging of the joints.
Keeping Mentally Fit.
One way is to never retire. We can modify and change the jobs we do to something less stressful and demanding, but we should continue to find challenging projects that will exercise our mind and help us stay connected to other people. Take up grandparenting duties. Spending time with grandchildren and young people can help us absorb some of the vibrant youthful energies. Develop new interests, visit new places, make new friends, attend new classes, read new books, work on new puzzles, volunteer in nonprofits or community service to keep your mind fit.
Minimize Drug Usages.
Because we do not metabolize drugs as well as when we are younger, more drugs are likely to cause side effects as we age. Find natural substitutes such as herbs or other alternative treatments such as acupuncture if possible to deal with the problems first. If there is a new symptom, always check to see if it is due to a medication you are currently taking.
Judicious Use of Herbs.
There are many herbs that have anti-aging or aging reduction qualities. These herbs can be powerful in helping to slow down the aging process. Food grade herbs such as Polygonum Multiflori, Dioscoreae, and Reshi can be taken for a long period of time without any side effects to boost immunity. But not all herbs are safe to take for a long time. Consult a qualified practitioner before trying to use them yourself, especially if you have limited knowledge.
Smile more often and keep a positive mood.
Happiness can lift your spirit and slow down the aging process.
Keep away negative energies. Learn to gracefully drive others crazy. There is a saying in my family, if the old folks (the parents) are demanding and difficult, they are probably aging nicely.
Throw Away your Age.
How you feel is important. Knowing your age sometimes can make you feel old. A little denial is quite healthy at times. But never be in denial of your physical capacity, pace yourself in your daily activity level.