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Wed, 5th October 2016

There's the cats paws, the dogs paws the women's menopause and now the manopause. Why do they call a women's issue "men-o-pause"? No idea, but does the male equivalent, we'll call the "manopause" really exist?

It's not so dramatic or sudden as the female changes, but yes, it certainly is a reality. In Australian women, average age 50.6 years (in reality anywhere from 35 to 55), monthly ovulation ceases. Hormonal production winds down gently or abruptly and pregnancy risk zeroes out.


But blokes? Here is a different story. Same age band but gradually their production of the all vital testosterone hormone gently deteriorates. So does sperm production. Ever so slowly or maybe abruptly. Legend says Charlie Chaplain was still fathering kids at 80, but that's Hollywood myth. He didn't and couldn't. Heaps of guys go through the "mid life crisis". Their work becomes boring, their enthusiasm and zest for life starts to dwindle. No hot flushes, simply a feeling that life is passing them by. Others younger are getting the promotions as their faces start to wrinkle, sexual urges drop often as opportunity lessens.


Booze consumption invariably increases, some stupid ones continue to smoke. Both reduce sexuality, specially the ciggies which reduce penile (and later heart) blood flow. So erectile capacity drops, heart and brain power all deteriorate. As most then exercise less, often eat more, weight increases, as does the risk of diabetes and elevated blood pressure and stomach issues. Medication for all these further depress sexuality, desire and performance. This further aggravates the downward spiral.


What to do? Some think more testosterone will give the desired "kick". But if blood levels are in the normal band, it's a no no. It merely increases the rate of prostate enlargement. This clamps down on the urethra (the tube taking the piss out of you), which is even worse. Maybe it's time to talk to your GP who for the Medicare rebate will listen to you for ten minutes. A psychologist can also help, but that's $120 a session. Sit down and navel gaze. Write down the Good Things in Life, and The Bad Things in Life.


Two columns. Then alongside each, write down your own way of dealing with it. This may take a month. Then write down "I will bloody well fix all of the above". Sign, date, and get to work. Set a daily goal, a weekly goal, a monthly and annual one. Get your body back to shape (your GP can easily help arrange this). Lose some weight, get some more exercise each day, eat sensible food, avoid junk, drink lots of water, stop the ciggies and less booze each day. Enlarge your circle of friends. If you don't know how, lots of churches are currently semi hysterical, but have a social circle it's easy to break into. For centuries this was the way people met (I met my wife at one). You've got to make the effort. As the gardening bloke on ABC television is currently saying each day "Every day life is a celebration". Just try.



Diarrhea was recently featured in this column. We have discovered another cause which could affect many people, now aspirin is being so widely used as a mild blood thinner. "Unbuffered" aspirin can cause ongoing embarrassing diarrhea. A switch to "buffered" aspirin can quickly overcome this issue. As my wife found after three years of misery.


You are correct. Don't simply break an ordinary aspirin into four and take a quarter a day. It might be cheaper but using buffered Cartia or buffered Asterix could save a lot of gastro intestinal discomfort including diarrhea. What an observant reader.

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I have terrible difficulty sleeping at night. I start thinking of something, which becomes a mountain. Whereas next morning, it is really a nil event. I mentally write letters to people who have done me some wrong, and stuff like that. Now I am taking some sleeping pills, but have dreadful dreams, and often waken yelling out as an awful event is about to terminate my life.


Twenty per cent of Australians have a sleep problem and about seventy per cent at some stage. Stillnox, a beautiful sleep inducer, headed the list, but sleep walking and crazy dreams put it in the "no no" basket. All previous ones weren't much better. Mogadon, the big break through 40 years ago was also notorious for bad dreams. You are chemically interfering with the intricate neuronal system. The more you interfere with nature, trouble inevitably looms.

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I love "blackberries" - the electronic one.


Today, every smart person works, sleeps and eats with their "blackberry" or similar device. Many are addicted, and it is never turned off. 24/7, and any call must have an immediate response - like within ten seconds. It is the business fashion piece of the new millennium. It is fast developing into a mild form of OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder. When it totally takes over your life, it's time to see your doctor! As an alternative, try nature's blackberries, which are full of vitamin C and other essential vitamins and minerals!

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I turn 90 next month, and have foolishly smoked, but sensibly gave it up ten years ago. I went cold turkey, and it wasn't hard. Do you think it will help me live a bit longer after all those years of having been an internal incinerator?


Absolutely yes. For many years, the medical belief was that if you stopped smoking for five years, the lungs repaired themselves, as if you had never smoked. We weren't too certain about other organs and blood vessels. But this is no longer mainstream. You simply inherited longevity genes and were lucky. Statistically you should have been dead at 50. History records a doctor who on his 100th birthday was asked how come. This, he said, holding up nicotine stained fingers, plus a whiskey. Do not hold these weird exceptions as the rule. Kids, don't start in the first place, and major problems later on will not occur.

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I underwent unbelievable stress over a period of seven years, none of my making, and felt like jumping under a bus. I lost eight kilos, couldn't sleep, and looked gaunt and miserable. However all problems gradually resolved. Now I have the reverse. I've put on nearly six kilos (a stone), and am worried I'll get diabetes, blood pressure or heart disease!


Stress is today's biggest psychological bogey and can have severe medical repercussions also. It can strip the body of weight, cause sleepless nights, anxiety and depression. It is horrible, and the anti-depressants often make many feel worse or incur other symptoms. Try and get a bit more exercise each day (walking is best), keep off confectionary, go easy on the slops, forget cakes or pies and stick to the basics of fruit, veggies, nuts, berries, low fat dairy products, lean meat and fish.

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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.



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Dr James Wright is associated with lovely Vimiera Retirement Village ( in the leafy Sydney (NSW) suburb of Eastwood. It is operated by Mediaid Centre Foundation (, a non-profit Public Benevolent Institution which provides housing for the elderly, as well as providing a large amount of health information.

Waiting to hear from you Dr James Wright.