I had cause recently to read up on 'night sweats'. I did this on the Internet, as you do, when you need to find out more about something that's been on your mind. Okay, I guess I have to admit at this point that I have in fact been suffering from night sweats, a condition that has meant that in recent times my night's sleep has been disrupted far too frequently. So I searched for more information on the web and narrowed my search down to "night sweats in men". All the sources I read, after having excluded various other medical conditions that may be indicated by night sweats, were pointing towards one thing: Andropause, or the Male Menopause, also sometimes described as Androgen Deficiency of the Ageing Male (ADAM). (The word Decline is sometimes substituted for Deficiency).
I would not be entirely honest if I said that I'd heard of the term andropause before now. And even from the literature that I've come across, it is clear that there is considerable controversy among the experts as to whether andropause, or the male menopause, is a valid concept at all. However, it seems undisputed that there are distinct biological changes that take place in men during mid-life, which are comparable in some ways to the female menopause, even though it is also undisputed that unlike women, men can continue to reproduce well into old age.
Menopause is a "complete cessation of reproductive ability caused by the shutting down of the female reproductive system.." Andropause on the other hand is "a decline in the male hormone testosterone. This drop in testosterone is considered to lead in some cases to loss of energy and concentration, depression and mood swings. And while andropause does not cause a man's reproductive system to stop working altogether, many suffer bouts of impotence.." (cough!)
I won't bother you too much with all the technical details, which I'm sure all of us are perfectly capable of scouring the Internet for. I do wish however to go a bit further by saying that apart from the night sweats, several of the other supposed symptoms of andropause that I discovered during my search, do in fact apply to me as well. So what are those symptoms and what is my response to each of them?
- Hot flashes ................. Not sure
- Excessive perspiration .... Most definitely
- Loss of libido ............... Maybe
- Impotence .................. No comment
- Anxiety ..................... Sometimes
- Depression ................. I think so
- Impaired memory ......... Can't remember
- Lack of concentration .... Maybe
- Fatigue ..................... Sometimes
- Insomnia .................... Yes definitely, but mostly because of the night sweats
And talking about this now is not out of place, because only this evening I was informed of my impending appointment as an Elder in the church. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was attending the Young Men's Group meetings. Well, I suppose the time comes when each of us must confront the reality of ageing. But have no doubt, I intend to wear all of my grey hair with pride..
And recently I have noticed that people have been referring to me as "Sir" when they talk to me; strangers, some even of my mother's age.. Hmm, I know about the traditional English politeness, but this is nothing to do with that.. I'm not sure if I'll get used to being called Sir, or even whether I like being so called..