We're not alone. Turns out that researchers have identifying menopause symptoms in men. Who knew?
Known as "late-onset hypogonadism", male menopause involves the drop in testosterone levels that at times occurs among aging men. The Mayo Clinic also notes that male menopause is also known as andropause, testosterone deficiency and androgen deficiency of the aging male. However, there are big differences in how men and women experience these hormonal changes. Medicine.net reports, “Unlike menopause in women which represents a well-defined period in which hormone production stops completely, testosterone decline in men is a slower process. The testes, unlike the ovaries, do not run out of the substance it needs to make testosterone.”
A study by researchers at the Development and Regenerative Biomedicine Research Group at England's University of Manchester that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine identifies nine symptoms that may signal male menopause. Three of these symptoms -- erectile dysfunction, reduced sex drive, and decreased frequency of morning erection -- were associated with decreased testosterone level and contributed to the diagnosis. Additionally, six non-sexual symptoms also may contribute to the diagnosis, although these symptoms were not as strongly associated to low testosterone levels as the sexual symptoms. These non-sexual symptoms included:
- Difficulty in engaging in vigorous physical activity
- Inability to walk one kilometer
- Inability to bend of stoop
- Low energy
- Feeling sad
The researchers suggest that approximately 2% of the 3,369 participants, ages 40-79, in the European Male Aging Study may have male menopause. Researchers believe that male menopause probably will increase with age, from 0.1% for men who are 40-49 years old to 5.1% for men, ages 70-79. Additionally, men who were classified with male menopause were more likely to be obese and have other health problems. Another study by U.S. researchers found an association between male menopause and other chronic health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and metabolic syndrome, which is an endocrine disorder that may increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
The English researchers believe that the study’s findings can help men who are at risk for male menopause through testosterone-replacement therapy. Additionally, the criteria developed through this study may limit the over-diagnosing of male menopause. The Mayo Clinic notes, “Treating aging-related low testosterone with testosterone replacement is controversial. For some men, testosterone therapy relieves bothersome signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency. For others, however – particularly older men – the benefits aren’t clear. The risks are a concern as well. Testosterone replacement therapy may increase the risk of prostate cancer or other health problems.”
The Mayo Clinic warns that a thorough medical evaluation needs to done before a man should attribute low testosterone to normal aging. Other medical conditions, such as sleep apnea, may cause testosterone levels to drop. Recommendations for those men who may be experiencing lower testosterone production include:
- Talking with the doctor to determine whether any other health issues are contributing to the low testosterone.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices, including diet and exercise.
- Seek help if feeling down.
- Be wary of herbal supplements.
I think this information is important to educate both women and men about the potential for men to experience their own version of menopause as they age. This education will help women provide the support to men to negotiate this change; in return, we need to educate them about what we're dealing with as we go through our own change.
Published On: June 25, 2010