Manly Science 

The latest "male menopause" treatise is in a recent issue of The New Yorker, by the respected writer/physician Dr. Jerome Groopman. He pours cold water over much of the movement from a number of sober scientific angles, not the least of which is that most of the "male menopause" research has been paid for by the very drug companies that manufacture the "cure."

As Groopman deadpans: "The pharmaceutical industry is, of course, in the business of inventing treatments. Some people wonder whether it may help invent diseases, too."

Groopman, like everyone else, recognizes that there are, indeed, fields of performance in which men begin to flag as they get older, whether the boundaries of those fields are lined in chalk or pillowcases, and that a little boost for some may be in order.

But he also suggests that a lot of what should be regarded as a simple, natural life process is subject to misdiagnosis.

I think he's right. Who wants to risk the side effects of steroids, which are too hideous and gruesome to discuss here, just because he's reached a point in his life where he'd rather have a noon nap than a nooner?

If you, or someone you love, suffers from symptoms that you suspect might be signs of "male menopause," keep Dr. Droopman's — oops, I meant Groopman's — advice in mind. Look beneath the surface, as the symptoms you're seeing might not be of "male menopause," but of plain old maleness, period.

For example:

Symptoms: Night sweats, insomnia, incessant flexing of thumb on right hand.

Suspected cause: Male menopause.

Actual cause: Passage of six months since the last televised Monday-night NFL game.

Symptom: Muttering, irritability, irrational outbursts of unprintable four-letter words.

Suspected cause: Male menopause.

Actual cause: Bud Selig, who has yet to be publicly hanged, is still the commissioner of Major League Baseball, where yet another strike looms.

Symptoms: Excess fluid buildup in oral cavity, mandibular spasms, inexplicable attraction to open flame.

Suspected cause: Male menopause.

Actual cause: 19 million pounds of perfectly good ground chuck were recalled from the market, at the height of the summer barbecue season.

Symptoms: Whimpering, uncontrollable tremor in right foot, irrational urge toward mayhem or self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

Suspected cause: Male menopause.

Actual cause: Wife sold classic red '68 427-cubic-inch GTO to her nephew, replaced it with one of those cute little Pontiac Azteks, in teal green, because "it's more practical for a couple our age."

Symptoms: Repeated contraction of stomach muscles with co-related expansion of chest muscles, compounded by irrational need to search comb for loose hairs and check butt and top of head with hand-held mirror.

Suspected cause: Male menopause.

Actual cause: Approach of 35th high-school reunion.

Symptoms: Facial tics, muttering, uncontrollable contraction of jaw muscles resulting in semipermanent grimace.

Suspected cause: Male menopause.

Actual cause: In-laws are sniffing around for an invite "to the beach" for Labor Day weekend.

Symptoms: Bizarre, mournful chanting of five-digit numbers, burning sensation in right-rear pocket area.

Suspected cause: Male menopause.

Actual cause: Prodigal child has proved smart enough to get into Princeton, but not quite smart enough to get a scholarship to pay for it; education funds were "conservatively" invested in a mix of Enron equities and WorldCom bonds.

Symptoms: Lassitude, lack of interest in lace teddies, deafness to question, "Are you coming to bed, dear?"

Suspected cause: Male menopause.

Actual cause: Near-terminal addiction to "defensive gems" segment of ESPN's "Baseball Tonight." (Followed by mandatory hourly replays of the day's home runs on "SportsCenter.")

Symptoms: General malaise, feelings of loss of hope, sense of impending doom.

Possible cause: Male menopause.

Actual cause: There's a sale at Nordstrom. S

Dave Addis is a columnist for The Virginian-Pilot. This column was first published there.

Opinions expressed on the Back Page are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.



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