MAN-opause: Break on through to the other side

January 19th, 2015




“Male menopause is a lot more fun than female menopause. With female menopause you gain weight and get hot flashes. Male menopause – you get to date young girls and drive motorcycles.”


– Rita Rudner



While the above quote may be good for a wry smile the truth is usually closer to the following example…



Many years ago a male client in his mid-fifties came into my clinic and explained the reason for his visit: “Well, Jeremy, my body has become hard and soft…but in all the wrong places.”


male menopause 1-150x150


Last week we looked at the energy mechanisms involved in female menopause (click here if you missed it). This week we will attempt to balance the ledger somewhat with a look at the shifts that happen within male energy during this period of life.



In traditional Chinese medicine we said, that with menopause, women became hotter and dryer as they move out of their hormonal years. Contrastingly, men’s natural fiery yang starts to cool and become damper in male menopause. It is often referred to as ‘andropause’ – referring to a drop in testosterone which is an androgen.



Some noticeable physical effects of this can be:


  • A drop in the metabolic flame with easier weight accumulation, particularly in the breast and abdominal areas.
  • Lowering of potency and libido
  • Decrease in testosterone production over time
  • Thinning of the head hair while other hair growth areas continues (body, ears, nose).
  • Becoming less physically active and more introspective




Sexual energy and male menopause



Men are the energy ‘losers’ in sex in the sense that they lose seed with every orgasm. This is highly energy intensive. Women only lose one egg every month and that is quite taxing enough for many. Let us look at the energy of this and its relationship with the change of male menopause.



The Water element (click here) containing the Kidney/adrenal gland system is the one primarily responsible for male sexual energy. The Kidney system has the titles of ‘Minister of Information and Health’. Whereas woman share some of the sexual energy roles between their Water and Earth elements (for more on the Earth element click here) men have ‘all their eggs in one basket’ so to speak. This makes the energy responsible for both general health and sexuality more vulnerable in men. Let us break it down a little.




Keeping that Zing



© Matt Groening

© Matt Groening



In traditional Chinese medicine ‘Yuan Qi’ (loosely translated as our genetically inherited start in life) is seen as our base, stored energy.[1]



This reserve can be further distilled into ‘Jing Qi’. The word ‘Jing’ suggests a precious metal like gold. This gives one an idea of the high value the Chinese placed on this energy and the importance of its conservation.



After this it can be distilled one last (physical) stage: ‘Zing Qi’.[2] This describes the sperm and egg that carry the DNA ‘information’ for the next generation. As such it is considered highly concentrated energy.



Regular readers may remember from last week that the Kidney/adrenal energy system controls our seven year cycles of maturation and ageing. There is an obvious correlation therefore between ageing, health and potency in men just as there was a similar correlation with the fertility in women with the cessation of menstruation. While this by no means rules out sexual activity for the both genders after fifty it does denote a shift in our our psycho-sexual nature.




‘La petite mort’ – the little death and the male psycho-sexual nature



‘The little death’ as it is translated from the French is one expression describing both the transcendent state of orgasm and a sense of loss. We now know that there is connection between male health and vitality, ageing and sexual potency. Any man will notice their ability to ‘recharge’ after ejaculating is greater in their youth than middle age.



There is more to the sexual psyche than the ability to give or receive pleasure however. The emotional component of the Water element controlling male sexuality is fear and survival. At a psycho-sexual level, the ability to fulfil their role to help create life also justifies their utility and existence. Looked at through the filter of male menopause this can seem like they only have death to look forward to. This is why some of the male potency issues accompanying male menopause can lead to morbidity and depression.



A famous example of this was the suicide of Ernest Hemingway. A internationally respected writer and also known as a ‘man’s man’, the onset of middle age and poor health saw him fall into a depression. Being treated for hypertension and believed to be depressed about his failing physical abilities, he was diagnosed with hemochromatosis (the inability to properly metabolise iron) resulting in toxic levels accumulating in the joints and organs. It is also linked to depression.



An apocryphal story attributed to him shortly before his suicide has him exclaiming: “I can’t hunt, I can’t go to the bullfights and I can’t have sex any more. What is the point of me?”



Alternatively we could also view this as a chance for breaking through our dearly held myths about ourselves. Every challenge is an opportunity for growth and usually presents itself to our ego as a kind of death. It is our choice whether to accept it and break on through or fall into denial and self-destructive patterns.






“The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive.”[3]



The other side of this connection between the ability to create life and the fear of death is over-compensation. The now clichéd male mid-life crisis where a man desperately tries to prove to himself that he ‘still has it’ by adopting a more youthful lifestyle from his overly romanticized past can now be seen in the light of a wider existential fear of utility and relevance.



There are some men who try to reclaim their youth and relevance through dating younger women – Groucho Marx’s famous “You’re only as young as the woman you feel” approach to middle age. The attraction to and desire for continued value to the contrasting feminine energy can also be seen in addictive tendencies towards ‘false feminine’ substitutes:



  • Alcohol (‘from the nipple to the bottle’)
  • Junk food: the instant oral gratification of feeding
  • Pornography, affairs, use of prostitutes: the instant gratification of experiencing a positive female response and confirmation of their masculinity.



All of the above serve the function of confirmation from feminine energy that:


  1. They exist and,
  2. Are worthy of confirmation, love, attention, relevance and value as males.



The perceived alternative is existential irrelevance and death. It seems then, that at every age, ‘growing up is hard to do’. Curiously, the ups and downs of such male concerns elicits little sympathy from their female counterparts who often adopt (humourously or otherwise) the ‘Yes, but we suffer more’ approach.





We said last week that female menopause was the climb down the other side of the hill from puberty half a life time before and an opportunity to resolve any unfinished issues from that time. Likewise, the often missing rituals of manhood and masculine security and confidence are revisited during male menopause. Perhaps now we may have some understanding how this can manifest on physical, energy and psychological levels at the same time.




‘It’s good to be king’ – What are the positives of male menopause?



The drift back to the centre, energy wise, is an ideal time (if it has not been developed previously) for a man to get in touch with his more Yin, feminine side. This is a wonderful opportunity to deepen and mature qualities such as empathy, patience and a more philosophical acceptance of change.



Both men and women have the chance to cross over from mere accumulated experience and into wisdom at this time. Without this we merely become older children. Aged care is full of those who have seemingly made the journey from the sand box to the nursing home without having changed their understanding or behaviour very much. This arrested development can only happen when we resist or ignore the opportunities presented to us for change and evolution.



If more men saw the change of male menopause less like a descent into powerless irrelevance and more as a rite of passage into a deepening of the Self and the strength of hard won wisdom there would be far less denial, over-compensation and sadness attached to it.






Till we no longer need to take pause at all (well, apart from an occasional pause for thought) and another Monday sees us break on through to the other side of a new week



[1] This is why the Kidney/adrenal system is also the Minister of Information – the ”information” being the transferance of DNA from one generation to the next.

[2] In tantric practice there are methods to refine this energy further but that is another subject, or blog, entirely

[3]Born to Run’. Bruce Springsteen. Columbia records. 1975



© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own unless otherwise indicated or if the original source is unknown at the time of writing. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation:


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