MEN in their late 40s and early 50s can sometimes hit a bit of a wall – often developing a loss of sex drive and depression.
Many have referred to the experience as the ‘male menopause’, but is this the correct term and what can be done to treat it?
Alamy Male menopause is typically known as andropause and is a condition with symptoms such as fatigue and a decrease in libido, experienced by some older men
What is male menopause?
According to the NHS, the phrase “male menopause” is misleading, as it suggests symptoms have been caused due to a sudden drop in testosterone – similar to in female menopause and a loss of oestrogen.
This is incorrect as although male testosterone falls with age, the decline is more steady – less than two per cent a year from around the age of 30 to 40 – and is unlikely to cause problems later.
Although a testosterone deficiency, also known as late-onset hypogonadism, can be responsible, usually it’s lifestyle or psychological factors that are the cause of the condition, which is also referred to as andropause.
For example, symptoms such as loss of libido and mood swings can be the result of stress or anxiety, or even poor diet and lack of exercise.
What are the symptoms of ‘male menopause’?
There are many symptoms that are common of men in their late 40s and early 50s and these include:
- mood swings
- loss of sex drive
- insomnia (difficulty in sleeping)
- loss of muscle mass
- erectile dysfunction
- fat redistribution which leads to developing a large belly
Experts say that many symptoms are caused by lifestyle factors or psychological problems.
Psychological problems can be brought on by work, money issues, ageing parents or relationship under strain.
And lifestyle factors can include lack of sleep or exercise, drinking too much alcohol, smoking or poor diet.
Getty Images Many men who lack sex drive or feel tired frequently are now often prescribed testosterone
Can you be treated for ‘male menopause’ on the NHS?
If you experience any of the symptoms, you should consult your GP.
They may be able to determine if symptoms are caused by any lifestyle or mental factors, such as stress or anxiety.
If stress is the cause, they can recommend you medication or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help.
Exercise and relaxation can also help alleviate symptoms in some cases.
Your GP may order a blood test for you to determine your testosterone levels, and if you have a deficiency, you may be referred to an endocrinologist (a specialist in hormone problems).
A testosterone replacement, in the form of either injections, tablets, patches, implants or gels, can be used to correct levels of the hormone.
Alamy Your GP may be able to determine if symptoms are caused by any lifestyle or mental factors, such as stress or anxiety
How common is the ‘male menopause’?
A growing number of men are heading to the doctors claiming they are going through the “manopause” — or male menopause — and being given prescriptions for testosterone.
The sex hormone prescriptions, such as jabs and gels, have increased by 20 per cent since 2012 and now cost the NHS £20million a year.
In 2015, GPs last year wrote 374,457 prescriptions for testosterone.
Sun doctor, Carol Cooper, says: “Men can, and do, get testosterone deficiency. Obesity and various conditions such as sarcoid and pituitary gland disease can cause it. So can surgery or severe injury to both testicles.
“But those are very different scenarios to diagnosing a ‘male menopause’.
“As anyone over 50 knows, life brings its challenges — relationship worries, loss of youth, trouble at work and concerns about children or ageing relatives.
“It might be nice to imagine the fall-out could be fixed with just a hormone prescription.”
What is Lorraine’s M Word campaign?
Lorraine Kelly launched her M word campaign to break taboos around menopause.
To kick-off the drive, Lorraine herself was interviewed on her own show about her experience of the menopause.
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