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Male Menopause

Book Review

Copyright © 1997 by Bert H. Hoff


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Jed Diamond, Male Menopause (updated 2nd ed.)(Naperville IL, SourceBooks, 1998. ISBN 1570713979)

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Male Menopause book - 2nd edition
Male Menopause

Is there such a thing as male menopause? In this groundbreaking book, Jed Diamond argues persuasively that there is. He takes several ways to get there. He reviews the research of European doctors, who are in many ways far ahead of their American counterparts, in the areas of andropuse and viropause. He does an excellent job in reviewing the current research on hormonal changes in men and women as they reach mid-life, and how parallel these changes are.

At one point he takes the introduction to Gail Sheehy's classic book on menopause, The Silent Passage: Menopause, (order on-line) removes only a couple of references, and points out that what she says applies to men as well as women. Ms. Sheehy, we should point out, wrote an article in 1993 for Vanity Fair entitled "The Unspeakable Passage: Is There a Male Menopause?" and another for Reader's Digest entitled "What You Should Know about Male Menopause." In The Silent Passage reiterates her belief that male menopause is real.) He sat in on his wife's women's group, with their permission, as they talked about menopause and male menopause. The women were quick to point out that men didn't go through anything like they went through, and several were dismissive of the whole idea. But what struck Jed as he heard these comments was how often he had heard men in his own psychotherapy practice, men in his men's groups, friends, and acquaintances. And how closely they paralleled experiences in his own life.







author
Jed Diamond





Related:

What is male menopause, anyway?




Related:

Top Ten Warning Signs of Male Menopause

Top Ten Life Changes Associated with Male Menopause

Sex after 50: Loss, Impotence, or a Deeper, Richer Sex Life?

We tend to think of the differences between male and female menopause, and overlook the many similarities: cyclical and unpredictable mood swings, nervousness and irritability, neckaches and backaches, memory lapses and losses, decreased concentration, loss of interest and self-confidence, increased anxiety or fear, decrease or loss of sexual enjoyment, feeling fat or gaining weight, and taking longer to recover from illnesses or injuries.

What about those differences? They're due to hormonal changes in the body. This occurs more gradually in men than in women, but the effects are still there. There are only two differences, the suddenness of he female hormonal change, and women's loss of reproductive capacity. Men go through similar, although certainly not identical, experiences. Men don't lose reproductive capacity, but they do go through significant reproductive changes. Because our society focuses so much on "sex" rather than sex, love and intimacy, and because men are taught in our culture to value studly sexual performance, many men would rather crawl through broken glass rather than talk about, much less obtain help for, the problems that they experience. Jet's book is an eye-opener in this regard, because it's a goldmine of helpful information about the impotence or loss of ability to retain an erection that many men experience. His lesson is two-fold; there's nothing wrong with seeking help in order to continue to have a full and satisfying sex life, and there's a full range of medical and natural, holistic and homeopathic remedies available. Men may squirm about reading about relatively painless penile injections, suction devices, and pills that temporarily increase blood flow to the penis. Or laugh. But that's our culture talking: all men think about is their penis, and how big and hard it is. (That's why, also, the clinics in the country schedule private appointments one hour apart: with out American ambivalence between "sex, sex, sex" and prudishness about a completely natural function, men who want to enjoy a natural sex life with their partner are shamed for seeking help for a natural problem.)

What about the "hot flashes"? Jed does nothing to minimize the significance of the debilitating hormonal changes that women experience as hormonal imbalances randomly sweep through their bodies. He merely points to the medical evidence that when men experience such sudden, rather than gradual, hormonal changes they, too, experience these weird symptoms. This book has a surprisingly thorough and well-researched section outlining the effects of hormones on the male body and summarizing the latest medical research in this area. He speculates that hormonal replacement therapy will be as normal, natural and helpful for men as it is for women. It's worth buying the book, just for this information. The differences between men and women? As Jed says, the difference is between falling off a cliff, or rolling down the hill, but you still end up at the bottom of the hill.

But is it the bottom of the hill, the beginning of the end of the road? Here's the real value of Jed's book. Like Ms. Sheehy in The Silent Passage,(order on-line) he describes this as a moving forward, a coming into Second Adulthood, a mature eldership. The message is the same as one that G.G. Jung delivers: at this point in life one either finds a deeper, more inner and more spiritual focus for one's life, or one languishes in angst.

Here, Jed's background in the "mythopoetic men's movement" truly enriches this book. We have no conception in today's society what it is to be an Elder, or why Elders are honored and valued in other societies. They are the Peace Makers, the Spirit Guides, the Elders. He relies on research by people like David Guttman's Relcaimed Powers: Men and Women in Later Life (order on-line)(anthropological research from around the world), but also on the teachings of the "mythopoetic men's movement" and people like Robert Bly (The Sibling Society),(order on-line)(cassette) Michael Meade(Men and the Water of Life)(order on-line), initiated Dagara (Africa) tribesman Malidoma Somé (Of Water and the Spirit)(order on-line)(cassette) and others. If you're wondering what happened to the "men's movement," it's being "mainstreamed I books like Robert Bly's The Sibling Society, Michael Gurian's The Wonder of Boys: What Parents, Mentors and Educators Can Do to Shape Boys into Exceptional Men.(order on-line) and Jed Diamond's latest book. And in slogans like "it takes a village to raise a child," a book title by Hillary Clinton that was first put into wide public parlance through the works of Malidoma Somé years and years ago. The message he delivers is hopeful and inspirational.

There's too much there for me to adequately summarize. Read the book. And check out the other information on male menopause on MenWeb, http://www.menweb.org/meopaus.htm to find out more. But yes, guys, male menopause is real, and there is hope after menopause.

 

Jed Diamond is a psychotherapist with 30 years' experience, and a prolific and noted author. His book Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man was one of the first books of the "men's movement," before it was popularized by Robert Bly. He has also written Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions and The Warrior's Journey Home: Healing Men, Healing the Planet.(order on-line) He's a frequent contributor to MenWeb. His articles include Back to the Future: Implications of Evolutionary Biology and Becoming Native to Your Place.

Help us help men
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Related stories:

 

 Sex after 50: Loss, Impotence, or a Deeper, Richer Sex Life? Part 2 of a book review of Jed Diamond's book Male Menopause, © 1997 by Bert H. Hoff

 What is male menopause, anyway? Here's a quick overview of male menopause and how it affects men's lives.

 A personal perspective. Author Jed Diamond's remarks at the Gaia Bookstore, his first stop on his tour to promote this book, offer some personal perspectives on male menopause.© 1997 by Jed Diamond and Bert H. Hoff

 Top Ten Warning Signs of Male Menopause

 Top Ten Life Changes Associated with Male Menopause

 Mid-Life and the Shaman/Trickster, an interview with Allan Chinen, by Bert H. Hoff

 Men are Not Impotent to Postpone their Sexual Decline, by Gail Sheehy. From New Passages: Mapping Your Life Across Time (Random House, $25). © 1995 The Detroit News, reprinted with their kind permission.

     


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Copyright © 1997 by Bert H. Hoff