Men are the stronger sex. Many believe that men are better at coping with physiologic changes of aging than women. However, studies have shown that the average life span of men is shorter. Women generally live longer than men. This is even true in my geriatric practice. The centenarians I take care of are mostly women.
Aging is inevitable in both sexes. The body will have to undergo changes and if one is not psychologically and emotionally ready to face these, he may have to suffer from depression and anxiety over the loss of many body functions as a consequence. Changes in the body usually start at 30 but become more manifested at 40. Perhaps, this is the reason why we say, “Life begins at 40.”
Male menopause. Many will argue that this does not exist but more and more men suffer from psychological distress when issues are not properly addressed. Men may go into andropause between the ages 40 to 55.
During this time, they may experience the same symptoms of the perimenopausal stage in women such as changes in attitude and mood. Moreover, he may also question his accomplishments, his values and even his career path.
Besides general physiologic changes, andropause may bring about urinary and sexual changes in varying degrees. The gradual failure of the testes to produce testosterone, the male hormone, may present the following symptoms: reduced sexual desire or libido, reduced sexual potency and difficulty in developing or maintaining erection, ejaculatory problems, reduced fertility and urinary problems such as increased urination frequency especially at night, a weak urinary stream, hesitancy during urination, difficulty starting urination and urinary incontinence.
There are more inevitable changes as we travel the journey of life. Men and women will experience slowing down of cognition as the brain “shrinks” and will also have delayed reaction time. There will be senile cataracts and narrowing of peripheral vision as well as difficulty discriminating sounds because of changes in the sense of hearing. Taste buds will be altered by 60-percent, hence, the usual craving for food will also be affected. Sense of smell also declines.
Muscle function will start to decline at age 40. Muscle wasting is certain unless a good exercise regimen with resistance training is espoused. The bones will also start to undergo changes at 40.
These changes in the musculoskeletal system will cause a particular weakness in manhood. Aside from obvious weakness in grip and joint pains, sexual endurance is affected. Note however, that these changes are physiologic and hence, may be normal as we age.
At 40, more psychological issues surface, women may be more emotional when they experience these. Men, because of fear of losing their masculinity, may hide these symptoms from their doctors. Truth is, women feel pang over the loss of youth while men feel dread. Men may fall apart and will find meaning in different avenues and relationships unless they know what to expect in advance.
Here are simple steps to cope with the changes in the body as one turns 40 – 1) see your doctor if you experience any symptoms 2) advocate a healthy lifestyle through balanced diet and exercise 3) feel good about yourself and choose to be happy.
Dr. Fred Goldman, a physician who turned 100 in 2011, had this to say, “Have a clue why I lived this long? Maybe because my office is a mess and I keep saying I am going to clean it up. That keeps me going.”