Male Menopause Treatment

Is the concept of male menopause just that: a concept? Or is male menopause something real and identifiable? British researchers decided to find out by assessing male testosterone levels, setting down a list of male menopause symptoms, and checking them against self-reported symptoms in a group of male participants.

Small Percentage

The researchers discovered that while male menopause seems to be quite real, a much smaller percentage of men suffer from the condition than scientists had supposed. Only 2% of males aged 40-80 suffer from the symptoms of this condition.

The condition known as male menopause, also known as andropause and sometimes late-onset hypogonadism, has been thought to be the result of a decline in the levels of testosterone that come with age. This would be the male version of what happens when a woman's estrogen levels go into decline as a result of menopause. The idea of male menopause has often been met with skepticism in the medical community, however.

But the well-respected New England Journal of Medicine just published an online article (June 16, 2010) in which the senior author of the British study, Dr. Ilpo Huhteniemi states, "Some aging men indeed suffer from [male menopause]. It is a genuine syndrome, but much less common than previously assumed."

Huhteniemi says these findings are important because they prove the existence of a genuine condition in which androgens, the male hormones, go into decline, bringing on symptoms comparable to those brought on by the female menopause. On the other hand, male menopause is uncommon, and it will be important not to over-prescribe androgen replacement therapy. Huhtaniemi is a professor of reproductive endocrinology at the Imperial College London's department of surgery and cancer.

Doctors have been giving men testosterone supplements to counter what was perceived as a decline in androgen, though it is not known whether these supplements are effective or even safe. The research team from the Imperial College London, along with scientists from the University of Manchester checked the testosterone levels of 3,369 men aged 40-79 and checked to see whether symptoms could be linked to low levels of the male hormone.

Nine Symptoms

The list of 32 symptoms was found to contain only nine symptoms that could be correlated to decreased levels of testosterone. Three of these symptoms were physical in nature and included an inability to perform strenuous physical activities, walk beyond one kilometer, or kneel/bend over. The other symptoms were psychological in nature and included fatigue, lack of energy, and sadness.

However, researchers found that these six symptoms had only a peripheral link to low levels of testosterone; while the last three symptoms were of a sexual nature and showed a clear connection to a lack of testosterone: infrequent morning erections, lessened libido, and erectile dysfunction. The authors conclude that unless a man displays all three of these sexual symptoms in addition to a confirmed decline in his levels of testosterone, he should not be considered to be in a state of late-onset hypogonadism and should not receive treatment. 

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