Episode 11: Surviving Male Menopause with Jed Diamond
Has your wife been getting on your nerves lately & and you don't really know why?
When you ask your husband to clean the yard and he suddenly throws a fit totally inappropriate to your request, is it possible he's experiencing something other than laziness or irritability? Could he be going through something called male menopause? Or is "male menopause" just an excuse some men use to explain their irritability?
We'll get the answers to these and other unanswered questions about men from our guest, Jed Diamond. Mr. Diamond has been a licensed psychotherapist for nearly 40 years and is the author of seven books including The Irritable Male Syndrome and his international bestseller, Male Menopause, that has thus far been translated into more than 16 languages - proving that male menopause is not just an American excuse for not cleaning the yard. Mr. Diamond describes the symptoms of male menopause such as irritability, lack of energy, heightened stress levels and changes in sexuality. He explains why the condition is not just due to a loss of testosterone but a state akin to puberty, when new hormones come on line and change everything. Is there anything you can do about it? Yes, says Jed Diamond, the condition is totally treatable. Listen to this podcast and you'll find out what to do about that "crazy" man of yours.
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David: Hello and welcome to the Third Age with the doctor and the Man from Hollywood. I’m David Debin, the man from Hollywood. On this show we turn the myths of aging upside down. As you know we sort out the scientific and the trendy, the medical and the cultural and we will tell you everything eventually that you need to know about living in the third age. Now, remember, we guarantee, if you listen to us on a consistent basis, you will never grow old. That’s an iron-clad guarantee.
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You are listening to the Third Age and unfortunately, for us, the doctor, Peter Brill, is on vacation. The doctor went to Turkey. Then he wound up in Italy at a cooking school. So he’ll probably gain a lot of weight.
Merissa: But it’s a good kind of weight. Yeah. [Laughs]
David: Yes, good food. A cooking school in Italy. On a beautiful old villa. Not bad, huh.
Merissa: He’d better gain weight.
David: And I hear Turkey is fabulous. I’ve heard it from several people. We’ll miss Peter but we’ve got a fascinating show today, so don’t go way.
Here’s a question for you: if you ask your husband to clean the yard or if your wife asks you to clean the yard, and he suddenly throws fit. Totally inappropriate at your request, is it possible he’s experiencing something call “male menopause?”
Or is male menopause just an excuse some men use to explain their irritability? Now I have to confess that I’ve done that in the past. I’ve said, well, come on I’m going through male menopause!
We’re going to find out if it’s an excuse or if it’s real and who uses it. We’ll get those answers from our guest: Jed Diamond. Jed is the author of “The Irritable Male Syndrome” and “Surviving Male Menopause.” There might be some information here that you can’t afford to miss so don’t go way.
You’re listening to “The Third Age” the show that separates the truth from the lies, the medical from the cultural, the show about anybody who’s age 50 plus or even 45 plus. The show that tells you how to live with passion, purpose, the joy in the aging process. I’m David Debin. I’m here with…well, I’m not here with my partner, Peter Brill, who’s on vacation but I’m here with Merissa Scobassi [sp] who’s my associate producer and Jared Pelts [sp] my producer who is not allowed to talk.
We have the honor of having a great guest with us today. I want to tell you a little bit about. His name is Jed Diamond. He’s been a licensed psychotherapist for nearly 40 years. Nearly 40 years, that’s as old as I am. [Laughs] Less 25 or so.
He is the author of seven books including “The Irritable Male Syndrome” and his international best seller “Male Menopause.” That has thus far been translated, listen to this one Merissa. “Male Menopause” has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, German, Greek, French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Polish, Slovak, Greek, Hebrew, Bulgarian, Korean, Portuguese, Indonesian and Malaysian, which means that this is a thing that everybody in the world is dealing with, right.
Merissa: Wow, it’s a global phenomenon. Yeah.
David: Welcome to the show Jed Diamond.
Jed: I’m glad to be with you.
David: Well, it’s a treat to have you because we haven’t really gotten to talk about this. We’ve been on the air for quite a while but we haven’t gotten to talk about this particular syndrome. Tell us a little bit about it. What is the irritable male syndrome and why is it important to understand it?
Jed: Well, it’s really evolved from work that I did on developing the male menopause or andropause. As you point out, any man who’s 40 and over is going to go through a change of life that going to be every bit as real and change producing as what women go through but we haven’t recognized it. We understand menopause in women but we just haven’t understood andropause in men and we got research from countries all over the world. When the book came out it was quickly translated into at this point 30 languages.
We know now that this affects sexuality. It affects relationships. And it affects our mood. That’s where the irritability is proven to be a very key symptom and the second round of research produced the book, “Irritable Male Syndrome.”
David: Uh huh. So where women have menopause, which is strange, why don’t men have menopause and women have “women-opause.” I don’t get that but men have, what you call, andropause, right?
Jed: That’s the more technical term. The common term is male menopause. The more accurate scientific term is andropause.
David: Why do look at menopause in women as something that’s medically and scientifically explainable. It’s something that can be treated and understood and needs to find a mate with lots of patience. As opposed to men who…I’ve never heard anything that was as specific scientifically for men.
Jed: Well, I think there’s a couple of reasons for that. One is that it wasn’t so many years ago. 40 or 50 years ago the women’s change of life was laughed at, was joked about. It was, oh, yeah you are just getting old and women are just like that. That was before there was serious research done on women’s change of life.
Recognizing that it’s not all in their head. It is hormonally based. This affects all aspects of their body, mind and spirit. It’s only been really in the last five or ten years that this kind of research has been going on throughout the world and actually most prevalent in Europe but also Asia. The United States as we are and in so many other areas of medicine is really quite far behind that we’re still just catching up with what the world has known for a long time, which is that men go through a change of life in a similar way that women go through change of life.
David: Can you take us a little bit step by step, in terms of the comparison between men and women? What are the equivalent hormones and stuff that need to be replaced or how it works?
Jed: Well to give you an overview about it what I would suggest is helps people get it is if you think of puberty. I think everyone would recognize that males and females go through puberty.
This is when hormones come online and there are bodily changes. There are sexual changes. There are interpersonal changes. Social changes. And we recognize that. What I suggest to people is that male menopause or andropause is similar to menopause in women. It is like puberty the second time around.
Now the hormones are going offline. They are decreasing. In men, the significant hormone is testosterone. For women, it’s estrogen. Really the only major difference that we found in the research, is it clearly as women’s hormones drop, they reach a point where they can no longer have children and the closing down of the estrogen pathways.
Where for men, we go through symptoms that can be severe to mild. But we don’t reach a point until much, much later in life where we can no longer reproduce children. So those are the differences but in terms of the hormones, the mood, the change in relationships, sexuality issues: very similar between men and women.
David: That’s interesting because we talk about the Third Age as sort of another adolescence, in which you have things happening to you physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually that as in adolescence you can’t really quite understand at first. You just seem to be swept up and battered around by the waves of these changes.
David: And so when you compare it to puberty, that makes a lot of sense to me. Because it’s like adolescence. Adolescence can get very irritable for no reason at all, right?
Jed: Exactly. We recognize, as we get older, and what the research found was that the chief symptoms that we are seeing in men and women is changes in sexuality. In male cases you have a loss of libido and sexual desire in many cases; a loss of erectile function. Irritability is one of the chief symptoms, as I said, that led to the second round of research on irritable male syndrome. A lack of energy where you just feel fatigued and tired, even though you may be exercising and eating well, you still may feel overwhelmed.
Heightened stress levels that affect, again, mind, body and spirit. And the good news is that all of these things can be treated. We have a whole program that looks at hormones, that looks at diet, which looks at exercise, looks at relationship and people don’t have to suffer. They don’t have to lose their sexuality and they don’t have to suffer the irritability that so undermine good relationships.
David: So we’re not treating everything as your doctor would, everything gets treated under the aegis of one pill, to solve all, or two pills to solve all. You feel that there is more than just adding a hormone to your day.
Jed: Exactly Most of the research on men would conclude either that men don’t go through a change of life since they can continue to reproduce later in life, there must not be anything at all called andropause. That’s one group of doctors.
Second group of doctors say, well yes it does exist and it is only related to loss of testosterone and so the treatment of choice is testosterone replacement. What we do at our clinic and you know I said through my web site where people can get information. We look at all the systems.
We look at the hormonal system. We look at physiology and brain chemistry. We look at the sexual relationship. We look at interpersonal relationship. We look at stress levels. We look at a person’s spiritually at this third age time of life. So as we look through all systems, then we come up with a plan that is very specific that may include hormones, it may include exercise. It may include counseling. The good news is that if we balance the various systems in a man’s life all the aspects start to get back on line and the 50, 60, 70 and 80s can be rather than the beginning of the end, can be the end of the beginning. The end of the first stage of life and the entering the third age stage of life that can be so vital.
David: That’s great. We’re going to come back. We’re running out of time. We’re going to take a break. Don’t go way. Want to hear more.
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The Third Age. David Debin, here, the man from Hollywood. We’re with Jed Diamond who has written many books. He’s been a therapist 40 years and he’s written two books in particular that have us fascinated today. One is called “The Irritable Male Syndrome” and the other is “Male Menopause.” We’re finding out that this is an actual thing. It’s not something that men make up to get out of doing the garden. Or just a joke, right.
Jed, would you, before we go on, tell us a little bit about how we can get your books and tell us about your website and so everybody can get more information than just here.
Jed: The web sites really were developed out of the research that we did. I mentioned that we have now research with over 60,000 men from all over the world. Probably the largest research study that’s been conducted. We have two web sites. One called www.menalive.com is the main site and then the specific site for irritable male syndrome is www.theirritablemale.com. You go to that site, you can take the quiz that will score to see what degree of irritability you might have and it will even tell you which type of irritable male syndrome.
We found in the research that there are actually nine different types. You can tune in to and once you take the quiz it will tell you what the problem may be and then we have books, tapes, CDs, videos a whole host of resources that people can get to help you with that as well as sign up for my free newsletter that I have made available and for your listeners I’m giving a gift of one of my popular e-books for those that sign up over the next number of hours after we do this show.
David: Great. And is that on the irritablemale.com?
Jed: You can do it on either site. The Man Alive site will sign you right up quickly and you can get the free e-book and get on the mailing list for future information.
David: Would you consider licensing that out? I think that’s a perfect e-mail address for me: [email protected] or something.
David: Do you use that?
Jed: It’s part of the web address. Yeah, people can write me at “the irritable male.”
David: Well, you haven’t sounded irritable lately. Do you have this? Are you old enough to have male…?
Jed: Yes. I have gone through this. I’m now 64 so I’ve been through a lot of this. I write a lot of my own experiences and what my wife’s been through having to live with me during this change.
David: OK. You know what we’re going to do? I asked for somebody to call in. If we can get one person to call in and take the test.
We do have somebody that called in, Jed. Let’s bring him on the air now.
Are you there?
David: Hey, how are you? What’s your name?
David: Jim. Hi, Jim. Welcome to the show.
Jim: Thank you.
David: Thank you for calling in. I don’t know if you’ve heard that we are talking to this really incredible writer, Jed Diamond, who’s finding out stuff that we need to know about male menopause.
David: And I notice that on your web site, Jed, you have a test and maybe you could ask Jim some of the questions on your test and then maybe at some point a little later on explain how he stacks up in having male menopause or not. And what he could do about it. Is that reasonable, Jed?
Jed: Sure. You know I could certainly give you some of the top questions that you would want to ask and if you went to the quiz on the web site you could take the whole test and it would score it for you and give you more in depth information.
David: OK, Jim are you ready or are you…
Jim: I’m ready. I can barely hear Jed. I don’t know if he’s speaking into his speaker but if he could improve on that it would be great.
David: OK, Jed can you speak up a bit?
Jed: Is that better? If I talk real loud?
Jim: Go ahead.
Jed: All right. The first one looks at just the general level of irritability. We have a scale from “not at all irritable” to “irritable most of the time.” So, generally what level of irritability do you feel that you experience.
David: I have to hear the question first.
Jim: UM…. Really. You get irritated by the question. I would say that I experience irritability.
Jed: So another question we would ask looks at your general energy level. Because we find that often as people go through this their energy level goes down and they feel less vital, less vigorous. They fall asleep perhaps earlier when they really want to have more energy or they just don’t have the get up and go that they’d had. That’s another question from “not very much” to “yes, I feel fatigued more than I would like to be.”
Jim: I probably would skew that question a little differently because last year they installed a pacemaker in me. Whatever energies that I was not experiencing before that because of a congenital heart condition I an now the “battery man.” So I have more energy than I had when I was 13!
Jed: OK, good.
David: You got the energizer bunny here.
Jed: Another question looks at sexuality and sexual interest whether there is a decrease in sexual desire or libido as we call it or for some men it’s very heightened that it feels like they are “turned on” all the time. Has there been a change is what we look at. Kind of the level of sexual desire as a man has gotten through this period.
Jim: I would say it’s not as much as it used to be. I’m not horny all the time. Because of some health issues I’ve been kind of slow in that area. I probably could have a better libido. So I don’t know if that answers the question.
Jed: Yes, that would get at it. Related question that we ask has to do with erectile function and whether when we are engaged in sexuality whether erections take longer to come on and whether we have difficulty maintaining erections throughout sexual encounter and again whether there has been any changes in erectile function.
Jim: There’s a medical remedy for that which is handy.
David: Handy or Viagra?
Jim: Viagra or some of the….
David: Either Viagra or by hand. [laughs]
David: I like the word “handy.” OK that’s kind of moot.
Jed: OK. Another common symptom has to do with in the women what they call “hot flashes.” In men often there are just temperature changes. At times you may be in cool room but you are feeling very warm or at night you have night sweats and changes in body temperature.
Jim: I don’t experience any of those.
Jed: OK. Well, those are the common ones that are on the quiz that we offer. There are 50 different areas that we tap into.
David: Yes, I see some of them here. Angry, impatient, blaming, moody, disconnected, bored, aggressive, all of these, but basically just from the few questions that you asked Jim and what you were able to…. We know we aren’t getting any kind of scientific opinion here but was there anything that formed in your mind?
Jed: There would be things. The way we do is the quiz gives you basic insights into what maybe going on and I do evaluations by phone that people can do all over the world people call me. Then in our offices here: obviously again we would be looking at some of the sexual changes to see what causes those. The irritability.
We usually look at four areas that often underlie the irritability. One has to do with hormonal changes. So we might check his, not only his testosterone but estrogen levels, estradiol, cortisol, thyroid hormone, some of the other key hormones.
Changes in brain chemistry. We find that as we change our diet it affects how our levels of things like serotonin and dopamine and other neurotransmitters and we check those.
David: Well, before we check all that, I’m just getting a message that we have to check in with our sponsors. Before we do I want to thank Jim very much for calling in and for taking the quiz.
Jim: My pleasure.
David: We’ll get a full diagnosis to you a little later on and tell you exactly what you supposed to do.
Jim: OK great.
Jed: Hang in there. Everyone else, we’ll be back with Third Age.
David: The doctor is somewhere in Turkey. And speaking of turkeys, I’m really feeling a little irritable myself. I was outside just before and I saw behind my house, a guy has chickens and stuff. I think I’m going to go and bite the head off one of those chickens and …
Merissa: And cook it for later. [laughs]
David: And cook it for later. And what I’m going to do is get a lawyer and use my defense as male menopause. Jed, would that work for me?
Jed: Probably not.
David: You have to be on my side here!
Jed: Oh, I bet it will work.
David: Oh, OK, good. See, now that’s what a real therapist would do. Jed, Merissa has a question for you. Merissa’s our associate producer and she’s in her…she’s just reaching the second age, as opposed to the first age. OK.
Merissa: My dad’s in the third age and I have noticed that he may get a little more irritable and tired and I was just wondering, is there any way or anything that I can do, or perhaps my mom, to help deal with that or what would be your solution be for me to help?
Jed: Well, there are a couple of things that I suggest to people. One is we recognize we all get irritable from time to time. We all deal with stresses in our life. The fact that we get irritable doesn’t mean that we have got a treatable syndrome that we need to be concerned about.
So it really has to do with two issues. One, the degree of irritability. So you see when you take the quiz, many women will take it on behalf of their men. The daughter will do it. Here’s how I see my dad and a wife, here’s how I see my husband and then you get an insight.
Often the men will be in denial. They don’t recognize how irritable they have become. They don’t think it’s there or if it is there, they think, of course I’m irritable. Who wouldn’t be irritable when you do those things to make me irritable?
David: Oh, yes.
Jed: So that’s one way. Take the quiz and then to learn. Many women buy the books and CDs and the information that we have available so that they will better understand what’s going on and can be supportive of the men in their life.
David: What do you think, Merissa? Is there something that you think now that you can do that you haven’t done before?
Merissa: I can take the quiz. Just probably be supportive.
David: Yes, be supportive. Understanding is the most important thing that goes on between people anyway.
David: So if you understand what’s going on you can deal with it.
Jed: Exactly. That’s what been one of the big problems. WE didn’t understand and so either we dismissed it, oh, he’s just getting old. Or we label him, he’s just a grouchy old man and we withdraw from him. So if we understand then we are able to recognize, what are the underlying causes? What’s triggering this? What can I do to encourage the man to get help? To get his hormones checked? Get his levels of dopamine and serotonin, brain chemicals understood. What’s going on with him?
David: By the way, Jed, I didn’t tell you but you made some money in commission here. During the break we sold 30 orders of Viagra and 5 pacemakers. [Laughter]
Jed: There you go!
David: So [laughs] you should be getting your check very soon. We’ll have a lot of people hopping around here and we don’t want them in the studio because there are pretty women, but aside from that.
I have a question, that’s a personal question. I don’t mind talking about it. Do I mind talking about it, David? No, you don’t. Go right ahead.
Testosterone. I started taking testosterone for what reason, I guess because my sexual libido was not what it used to be and I was feeling not as competitive as I used to feel. And I was feeling like maybe I needed to have a little more energy. And I thought that testosterone would help me with that. I brought that to my doctor and he said, OK, let’s try it.
So I’ve been doing it. For me, I think, there are up sides and down sides to it. In general can you tell me what they are if there are up sides and down sides so I can see if that relates to me?
Jed: Well, what I recommend when people come to our clinic first of all is to have testosterone levels checked. Because if your testosterone level is not low and you take added testosterone, you can create problems that you didn’t have.
David: What would you call low?
Jed: Well, it varies, person to person, but what we know is that the… You didn’t tell me how old you are.
David: I’m 65.
Jed: OK. So testosterone drops as we age and normal levels are anywhere between 400 and 1200 nanograms per deciliter of blood. So depending on where you are in that continuum and as we get older even when our levels maybe in the normal range, we may still be having symptoms.
David: I think I was at 500 when …
Jed: OK. You may have been in the low end and you may not have been utilizing testosterone adequately. Depending on how you take it. Are you taking shots? Gel?
David: Androgel. I rub Androgel on my…every day.
Jed: The gels give a more consistent dose so it tends to up the levels and you get a consistent response. Guys that take shots will often say, I feel great for the first part of the cycle. The last part, I feel really down. So the upsides are that often people not only feel more sexual energy, but just more general energy, because testosterone affects the whole body not just the sex organs.
Often people also feel calmer, even though they have more energy and they feel more vital and vigorous, they don’t feel that edgy irritability that often goes along with low testosterone.
David: I identify with those three things. What’s the downside? That’s a great upside. I want to feel more sexual.
Jed: Downside, again, is one you don’t want to give it to people who don’t need it.
Jed: Well, because it’s kind of like if you’re driving your car and your oil is on full mark and you put oil in the crankcase. You know, you flow it over and it interferes with other aspects of running the car. The same thing with testosterone. You don’t want to, for instance, up the levels where you are getting anabolic like weight lifters are doing to get that…
David: It’s a steroid?
Jed: It is a steroid in the body. If you take too much that’s where you hear about “roid rage” and irritability from too much testosterone.
David: So it’s got to be regulated.
Jed: Irritability can occur and is more common in low testosterone. The other danger is that prostate cancer, if you have it in your body, testosterone stimulates the growth of cancer. It doesn’t cause it, but we recommend anybody taking testosterone get regular checks with their doctor to be sure that they don’t develop a prostate cancer.
David: Is that only prostate cancer? Or any other kind of cancer?
Jed: If you developed other kinds of cancers there would also in some be reason to stop taking testosterone but prostate cancer is the most likely cancer that men would develop that testosterone could make worse.
David: OK. We could, I could anyway, do another hour and a half with you Jed. You are really fascinating. You have a lot of information that people are really hungry for. We want to send people to your website which is www.theirritablemale.com or www.menalive.com.
We definitely want people to get these books and read them. The “The Irritable Male Syndrome” and “Male Menopause” by Jed Diamond. Important books for this time of life or any time of life.
Jed, thank you so much for being with us. We really enjoyed it.
Jed: I enjoyed being on. I hope we can do again sometime.
David: I do, too. Thank you.