Midlife changes can challenge both men and women. While those that face women are widely recognized and treated, men’s symptoms are less commonly known or understood. It is only in recent years that the phenomenon of men’s midlife changes has come to light.
Here are some of the symptoms that men may grapple with, along with suggestions for managing them before serious problems develop. As always, consult your doctor before trying a new exercise program or taking a medicinal supplement.
Decreased sex drive. As testosterone levels drop after age forty, sometimes as much as fifty percent or more, men can lose physical desire that for many was a staple of their youth. Fortunately, there are many ways to treat this condition. Check with your doctor before trying these:
- regular exercise three times or more each week
- weight loss to reach a healthy size
- nutritious diet with foods that build stamina
- more patience and relaxation during love-making
- an understanding wife
- prescription drugs like Viagra
A combination of some of these may fit a man’s particular needs. Experiment until you find a regimen that works for you.
Hair loss. Losing hair can be embarrassing for some men. Hair transplants often are successful, though some guys opt for hairpieces or supplements. A new, shorter style can enhance that masculine look (remember Yul Brynner?), while some medications purport to help grow new hair in both men and women. Ask the pharmacist about these and other options.
Weight gain. As male hormones that used to build and maintain muscle mass begin to diminish, it is important to follow a routine exercise plan to strengthen muscles and keep them active. Ask your doctor about a plan that is right for you. Typically, it is wise to begin with a twenty-minute workout three times a week and build from there. Remember to warm up and cool down to avoid injuries or sprains. Also be sure to eat a healthy diet that emphasizes three vegetables and two fruits (minimum) daily, or whatever your doctor recommends.
Health problems. Heart conditions begin to surface in many men by age forty, sometimes leading to unexpected and fatal heart attacks. Have an annual checkup and follow your doctor’s orders to keep fit and help your heart function in a healthy manner. If you smoke, stop to prevent lung cancer from developing. Avoid excessive alcohol intake so your liver will remain healthy. Stop eating junk food and opt for healthy snacks.
Mental health. Midlife is a time for reevaluating life goals, such as travel, career, and retirement. Don’t lead a mundane life; instead, set new goals or try something different to enjoy life at each step. To avoid a hum-drum marriage, share a meaningful activity with your spouses, such as exercise, reading, or travel. Some men grow depressed over lost jobs or decreased earning potential. If you find yourself struggling with negative or anxious feelings, make an appointment with a counselor to objectively discuss these issues.
Midlife can provide a wonderful opportunity for reflection and goal assessment. Take a few careful steps to protect your mind and body so that you can enjoy the many good years still to come.