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Yep, Male Menopause Is the Real Deal

Yep, Male Menopause Is the Real Deal


I stared at my partner, incredulous, and demanded to know: “You’re what?!”

“I’m in menopause.” He explained plaintively.

“You can’t be,” I scoffed.

“Why not?” I could feel his hackles rising now.

“Because… Because that’s my thing. And I just did that for ten awful years. We’re finally free.” I reeled at the utter cruelty of biology and the universe. But apparently his doctor recommended he look into hormone replacement therapy.

***

Welcome to my life and a conversation I had with my partner only a few years ago. We’d just returned from the most horrendous trip to Spain — horrendous in that it was such a relationship letdown.

Allow me to paint the picture: You’re on the most romantic trip of your life in Malaga, Spain. You’ve waited years, you’ve saved, you’ve bought lingerie, your room overlooks the endless blue of the sea, and you’re finally alone without a random but well-loved child feeling comfortable enough to spit something directly into the palm of your hand at a moment’s notice. And the person you’re with won’t have sex with you. He turns away, and within moments, he is snoring chastely beside you.

Across the courtyard, on a shadowy balcony, you spy a couple, maybe ten years your junior, thrusting passionately against one another, his hand cupped over her breast — not a care in the world except for one another. The loneliness of your situation hollows you out. You tell yourself he’s simply tired from the flight. A journey like this would wear out any spry 60-year-old.

This is deeply personal, but I’m sharing it because, in the end, it’s how we all grow. I went through a phase in my relationship probably two years ago when my partner, who has lusted after me since the age of 25, suddenly chose to stop having sex with me. It started before that trip to Spain, but Spain was a low point. We went through a total sexual dry spell in our relationship for two years. To be clear, this man has lusted for all women since Nixon resigned. So, color me perplexed.

Like a lot of recovering Type-A women, I went straight into fix-it mode, interrogating him, “What’s going on? What are you feeling? Tell me, what’s up? What are you going through? Are you questioning your sexuality? Is it me? Am I fat? Am I too old? Are you not attracted to me any longer? What is it?”

I went to the dark place. I was like, this is it. Either I start all over and find a new partner at age 52, or I accept that this is our new normal and that we are in sexual lockdown for the rest of our lives. This, of course, is highly unsatisfying because not only was there no intimacy in addition to no sex, I had finally made it through the throes of menopause and for the first time since the age of 12, I wasn’t at war with my hormones, and I felt great and ready again.

In that context, I thought, well, the only thing I can truly control in this situation is me. So I stopped doing that external validation thing so many of us do where we ask our partner, “How do I look?” I would go to the mirror and say, How do I look? I look fantastic. Thank you for asking, Alisa! And I began reframing my sexuality and sexual presence as something internally sourced. I didn’t need to be validated by a man, which is NOT something we teach in a heteronormative context. It’s ingrained from our earliest days that an external partner needs to validate that we’re beautiful, and it’s a total fallacy.

So when my partner went in for testosterone screening, it sunk in that it really, truly wasn’t about me. It was all about hormones.

It turns out testosterone production in males surges during puberty and rises incrementally up to the age of 30. And then starts dropping again. Of course, men don’t want to talk about it. The stigma is enormous. Symptoms such as reduced libido, fatigue, mood changes, erectile dysfunction, and physical changes can significantly affect quality of life and be mistaken for depression, which can lead to the wrong meds for what’s truly going on.

To make matters worse, only about 5% of men with low testosterone receive treatment, according to a 2018 study by the New England Research Institutes. That’s mostly because, as we all know, most men won’t go to the damn doctor once a year.

Turns out there’s a variety of treatment options, each with pros and cons. There’s TRT, topical gels, testosterone pellets, testosterone injections, even new oral medications. (Go figure, they have a plethora of options for male menopause, smdh.)

The only wrinkle was his past cancer, which made him a less-than-ideal candidate for TRT. So, we opted for the recommended lifestyle plan: a much more disciplined sleep schedule (a real bedtime for once with a sleep aid); a plant-based diet designed to drive testosterone production that included cruciferous vegetables, nuts and seeds, healthy fats like avocados and olive oil, and soy products (which wasn’t as tough a change as I thought it would be, given all the new veggie substitutes); and a more rigorous workout schedule of strength training and swimming.

The results weren’t immediate, but with a little weight loss and processing of his own trauma and self-confidence related to his cancer, plus added sleep, his testosterone levels rebounded. And it’s important to note that this might not be the case for everyone. But I still remember the night things shifted.

It was early evening, just after dinner, and I didn’t have to dress up or do anything. The connection was electric. And I think it was because we’d both done the work to get back to each other. I had come into my own self, and that, of course, is crazy sexy. And it was as if he had too and also watched all of Bridgerton — the full-bodice ripper — and was suddenly giving big Duke energy.

And we’ve loved happily ever after…

Alisa Kennedy Jones is the mom of two daughters, an author, a screenwriter, and EIC of The Empress, a global weekly newsletter dedicated to obsessively curating a less hellish peri/menopause for women everywhere and heads The Institute for Women’s Futures dedicated to the science of midlife women thriving. Her next book THE EMPRESS AGE: Awakening Midlife Women’s Wisdom and Wit is due out in 2025.



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