Male menopause not a mythIt's real but rare, study finds
The male menopause is not a myth but it is rare, according to new research.
For the first time, scientists from Manchester University have identified three key symptoms which help diagnose late-onset hypogonadism or the "male menopause" caused by a fall in the production of the male hormone testosterone in ageing men.
But unlike the female menopause, which affects all women, the male menopause is relatively rare, and affects only 2 per cent of men, and is often linked to poor general health and obesity.
In the study, the researchers measured the testosterone levels of 3,369 men aged between 40 and 79 from eight European centres and asked details about their sexual, physical and psychological health.
The team found that only nine of 32 symptoms most often blamed on the male menopause were associated with low testosterone levels.
Of these, the three most important symptoms were fewer erections in the morning, low libido or sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
The presence of all three sexual symptoms, together with blood testesterone levels of less than 11 nanomoles per litre are needed for a diagnosis, said the reserachers.
Other non-sexual symptoms such as an inability to take part in vigorous activity such as running or lifting heavy objects, being unable to walk more than 1km, not being able to bend, kneel or stoop, sadness, fatigue and loss of energy were only weakly related to low testesterone levels.
Poor concentration, anxiety, difficulty getting out of a chair and changes in sleep patterns were all found to be unrelated to blood testesterone levels.
Lead researcher Professor Fred Wu, from the university School of Biomedicine said: “The long list of non-specific symptoms that have a potential association with testosterone deficiency makes it difficult to establish a clear diagnosis of late-onset hypogonadism.
"This situation is further complicated when you consider that even the most specific sexual symptoms of androgen deficiency was relatively common among men with normal testosterone levels.
"The application of these new criteria should guard against the excessive diagnosis of hypogonadism and curb the unwise use of testosterone therapy in older men.”
The findings are published to-day in the New England Journal of Medicine.
This article was published on Thu 17 June 2010
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