In the last decade or so, there has been slew of clinical research on the possibility of the existence of male menopause. "Manopause" (as the kids are calling it) is a pretty controversial subject amongst doctors and scientific researchers-- but, what is it, exactly?
Typically, men experience a .5 to 2 percent decline in testoteronee every year be starting in their late 30's to early 40's. This number is pretty negligible compared to the rapid and excessive decline of estrogen that women experience during menopause. However, depending on the rate of testosterone diminution, some men may experience a loss of as much as 50 percent of their testosterone level by the time they reach 70. Low levels of testosterone, or hypogonadism, are, certainly linked to low sexual desire, erectile dysfunction and difficulty achieving morning erection. But, studies have proved quite inconclusive in regards to what other symptoms constitute male menopause or if there are any.
Many older men claim to experience fatigue, weight gain, irritability, depression, hot flashes and night sweats in addition to the sexual symptoms present in hypogonadism. However, a study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that while low testosterone levels do directly correlate with low level sexual desire and erectile deficiencies, hypogonadism is only somewhat related to sadness, low energy level and hot flashes. Other recent studies have shown that testosterone levels don't necessarily always drop in men and that all of these symptoms may be experienced by older men with completely normal hormone levels.
A lot of the symptoms attributed to Manopause may just be due to getting old, let's face it. And, aside from the specific sexual degeneration such as erectile dysfunction, a lot of the symptoms can be attributed to a number of maladies including thyroid dysfunction or actual depression. The problem is that while hypogonadism is an actual ailment, there has been a skyrocketing of interest in and marketing toward this condition that may not actually even exist. A lot of pharmaceutical companies are proposing help to older men by way of asking, "are you less energetic and having less prolific erections than you did 15 or 20 years ago? We can give you a pill for that." What older man isn't going to think, well, yes, that does sound like me? But, going on hormone replacement medication when you don't need it can lead to prostate cancer, sleep apnea, heart disease and a number of other things (as if the aforementioned aren't enough to scare a man). There may, in fact, be some form of male menopause but the evidence isn't totally compelling at this juncture. And, even if it were, it's not nearly as drastic and altering of an experience as female menopause. While hormone therapy is beneficial to men whom do actually suffer from a severe decline in testosterone levels, it behooves every man to make sure he has thorough medical tests and bloodwork done before going on any sort of medication. We don't want anyone turning into a raging ball of Mel Gibson when it isn't necessary.Do you think there is a male menopause? Do you think your man is suffering from it? Share you story at MyStory@thirdage.comAbout the Author: Jennifer McPherson is a New York-based journalist who writes frequently about health.