Male menopause not a myth

Researchers pinpoint nine symptoms for determining presence of condition

18 June 2010

For the first time, researchers have identified the symptoms linked to ‘male menopause’, which results from low testosterone production in ageing men.

Unlike female menopause – which affects all women, usually from the age of 40 onwards – male menopause affects only 2 per cent of elderly men and is often linked to poor general health and obesity.

Of nine symptoms associated with the condition, the three most important are decreased frequency of morning erection, decreased frequency of sexual thoughts (or sex drive) and erectile dysfunction, according to the latest research by the University of Manchester, Imperial College London, University College London and other European partners.

These symptoms together with low testosterone levels are required to establish a diagnosis of late-onset hypogonadism, or male menopause, the researchers said in a study published in yesterday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The findings should provide new guidance for physicians prescribing male testosterone therapy to ageing men with a dwindling sex drive, the researchers said.

Use of testosterone therapy has increased by 400 per cent in the United States since 1999, but not at all in other developed nations, they added.

Professor Ilpo Huhtaniemi of Imperial College London, who co-authored the study, said men who exhibit sexual dysfunction symptoms but have normal levels of testosterone can be reassured that something else is causing their problems and hormone treatment will not help.

For the study, researchers measured testosterone levels in 3,369 men aged between 40 and 79 from eight European centres, and asked for details about their sexual, physical and psychological health.

Other non-sexual, physical symptoms associated with male menopause include an inability to engage in vigorous activities such as running or lifting heavy objects, an inability to walk more than 1km, and an inability to bend, kneel or stoop.

Psychological symptoms include loss of energy, sadness and fatigue, although the three showed minimal links to low testosterone, researchers said.

The researchers concluded that a range of other symptoms are not linked with male menopause and could be ruled out. Among them are changes in sleep patterns, poor concentration, feelings of worthlessness, nervousness or anxiety, as well as difficulty getting up from a chair.

The study comes after other experts writing in the journal Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin said there was ‘no evidence’ male menopause existed at all.


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