Digging Into the Question of Male Menopause
> 1/9/2007 9:36:45 AM

Prominently displayed on the cover of the latest edition of Newsweek is the headline: Understanding Menopause. Inside, the magazine dedicates a large portion of its current issue to the questions and concerns surrounding the physiological process that effects women later in the lives, typically between the ages of 40 and 60. As Newsweek points out, nearly one-third of all women fall into this age group, and likely deal with some or all of menopauses effects. Inconspicuously tucked into the magazine is another article, written by two Harvard medical doctors about the improving science behind what they term "male menopause," sometimes referred to as adrenopause. Similar to women, as our population ages, more and more men will be faced with this largely unknown change in their lives.

Drs. Federman and Walford bring together a lot of disparate research that ties into the question of male menopause, and also speculate as to why it is far less understood or studied than its female counterpart. Our own Dr. William Hapworth tackled the question over a year ago in a post that looked at the link between adrenopause and depression, and decried the lack of research or interest in adrenopause and its effects on aging men. As Federman and Walford note, this is changing as more doctors begin to understand the potential effects that a decline in testosterone can have on a man's life.

The disparity in research can be viewed as a result in the differences between the onset of the male and female versions of this change. While menopause usually occurs relatively rapidly, with the function of estrogen declining and changing over only 5 or 10 years, testosterone decline in men usually happens over the course of several decades. Newsweek notes:

Levels of a man's main sex hormone, testosterone, begin to drop as early as the age of 30. Instead of plunging over a few years, the testosterone levels drop very slightly (about 1 percent) each year—for the rest of his life. This change is so gradual that many men may not notice any effects until several decades have gone by. Yet, by 50, 10 percent of all U.S. men have low levels of testosterone. By 70, more than half are testosterone deficient.

But simply because the change is slow does not make it any less detrimental or deleterious to a man's overall quality of life. While some symptoms of adrenopause can be similar to those of menopause, others are completely different. The changes in testosterone can effect many men in different ways, but a loss of muscle mass and bone strength, increased body fat, decreased energy, less interest in sex, erectile dysfunction, irritability and depression have all been documented. As Dr. Hapworth wrote and Newsweek also mentions, it is important that doctors begin to take testosterone level readings for men in their mid- to late-twenties. Then as they age and more testosterone level readings are taken, there is a baseline for comparison. These readings along with self-reporting on other symptoms will help both doctors and clients not only differentiate adrenopause from medical problems that can cause similar symptoms, but also make informed decisions about how they want to address these symptoms if adrenopause is in fact the culprit.

Like menopause, adrenopause is a natural stage in our lives. However, as as life expectancies continue to increase, it is important that researchers and care providers begin to form specific ways for men who struggle with testosterone deficiency to remain vital, productive and happy into their twilight years. Greater research will also help elucidate the link between testosterone deficiency and depression, and how we might be able to address that in the future. For now, if you are a man, speaking with your regular doctor, or even a specialist that you see about symptoms that you think might be related to adrenopause is a great start. There are many options, and hopefully you can find one that will help you.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy