Male menopause? Really doubtful
This one is close to my heart for a couple of key reasons: 1) I wrote a book about it (Midlife Man – you can still buy a copy from my web site. Trust me, it’ll be the best buy you make this year; would I lie to you?), and 2) I am just “so there” personally, by which I mean whether or not there’s such a thing as “male menopause” is of intense interest to me.
But not just for me.
That issue is in fact a huge debating point among medical health professionals. Many doctors argue that there is no such thing as a “male menopause” (this has been my opinion for years, and if your read that book, you’ll see why), and many others saying that yes, male menopause is a big problem among aging men. Those doctors prescribe various forms of testosterone in order to treat a certain set of symptoms that have been labeled as those of “male menopause”.
I, however, have always argued that (based on what I have understood and studied about hormones in men, especially aging men)
- that group of symptoms that are clustered under the umbrella of male menopause are just so vague that they can actually be due to anything at all. Most likely simply getting older. And that there is no proof that a man with such symptoms needs or will benefit from testosterone therapy.
- we simply have no idea what normal testosterone levels should actually be because they can fluctuate so much with normal events. For example, if an average man’s team wins an important game – and we all know how much stock “real” men put into having favorite teams – his testosterone levels shoot up, which might be sort of scary news for men who are fans of the Vancouver Canucks.
And to illustrate just how little we really know about “normal” testosterone levels, in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism researchers measured testosterone levels in aging men in 5 different countries and found that there was as much as an 18 % variation in testosterone levels among men from different parts of the globe. This is just another indication that this issue needs way more study.
Bottom line: there are a few men who suffer clear and dramatic drops in testosterone levels with age, and for such men, there is some good reasoning behind the use of testosterone therapy.
For most men getting extra testosterone, however, the rationale behind its use is much, much, much more iffy.