Erectile dysfunction, depression and low mood in middle age leave many men thinking they are going through the “male menopause”.
With testosterone levels declining with age, some even complain of hot flushes.
Whether the “man-opause” really exists is a hot topic among doctors. While some put the symptoms down to stress, others maintain fluctuating hormone levels can trigger “the change” even in men.
This World Menopause Day, Yahoo UK asks experts whether the condition is real.
Just like women, some men complain of insomnia, poor memory and a “beer gut” in their forties and fifties.
While often dubbed the “male menopause”, the NHS stresses these symptoms do not come about due to a dramatic drop in testosterone. This is different to the menopause, which is triggered by a sudden decrease in oestrogen.
Testosterone does fall with age, however, the decline tends to be around 2% between 30 and 40, the NHS states.
Instead, “middle age woes” like financial concerns, divorce or having to care for ageing parents can trigger stress. This often leaves men exhausted and unable to get aroused.
Just like women, many men dislike the changes to their physique that come about in middle age. As well as making some too self conscious to get intimate, the embarrassment can also trigger impotency.
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“Men and women often don’t like the fact they’re ageing and that it takes longer to become aroused for sex,” menopause specialist nurse Kathy Abernethy told Yahoo UK.
A “mid-life crisis” may also be responsible, with some men panicking they have not achieved as much as they should, according to the NHS.
Gynaecologist Dr Michael Savvas argues, however, there may be some truth in the so-called “male menopause”.
“The hormonal changes are not as abrupt as in women but it’s wrong to say it’s just caused by stress,” he told Yahoo UK.
“There is a definite decline in testosterone in men with age, which can or cannot cause symptoms.”
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Like menopausal women, testosterone therapies can help to relieve a man’s suffering.
In some cases, however, the so-called “male menopause” is in fact triggered by hypogonadism. This occurs when the testicles produce too little, or no, testosterone.
“This is a medical condition and, unlike the real menopause, not an inevitable part of ageing,” Ms Abernethy said.
Some men are born with it, while others develop the disorder in middle age, giving the illusion of the “menopause”.
Hypogonadism can occur when the testicles do not respond to signals from the pituitary gland to produce testosterone.
It can also come about if a disease, like diabetes, interferes with the gland’s ability to stimulate the hormone’s production.