DEAR ABBY: Some time ago, you gave a very sensitive reply to "Desperate in Delaware," a 50-year-old man with an obsessive attraction to a younger woman.
I have been a psychotherapist for 34 years and have seen too many men destroy their own lives and the lives of those they love because they didn't understand the inevitable changes that occur in a man's body, mind and spirit at midlife.
My understanding of these issues has been greatly expanded since recognizing that men go through a form of "male menopause," generally between the ages of 40 and 55.
Marc Blackman, M.D., chief of endocrinology and metabolism at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, said, "The male menopause is a real phenomenon and it does similar things to men as menopause does to women, although less commonly and to a lesser extent."
I believe thousands of families could be saved if men and women learned about the newest research findings on this crucial time of life.
-- More than 25 million men in the United States are now going through male menopause.
-- Fifty-two percent of men between the ages of 40 and 70 suffer from some degree of erectile dysfunction.
-- Men, like women, experience complex hormonal rhythms that affect their mood, physical well-being and sexuality.
-- Emotional symptoms include irritability, worry, indecisiveness and depression.
-- Physical symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, short-term memory loss and sleep disturbances.
-- Sexual symptoms include reduced libido, fear of sexual failure, and increased desire to prove he can still perform by seeking a younger partner.
These problems are treatable. If your physician is not familiar with male menopause, ask for a referral to a physician who is. -- JED DIAMOND, DIRECTOR, MEN'S HEALTH CLINIC, LONG VALLEY HEALTH CENTER, LAYTONVILLE, CALIF.
DEAR JED: Over the years, the idea that men experience a midlife change has been joked about. I'm sure many people will be relieved, and others will be surprised, to learn that male menopause is a fact and it is treatable.