Dr Chris investigates... the manopause
While we may call them 'grumpy old men' making fun of them from suffering from the 'manopause' - it seems it may actually be a real ailment. From irritability to lethargy to depression - it all comes down to a decline in male testosterone. So what can you do to help your man in need? Dr Chris has his say…
What is manopause?
The term 'male menopause' was coined in 1944 by researchers Carl Heller and Gordon Myers to describe a range of complaints that mirror the symptoms in menopausal women - including depression, anxiety, loss of libido, lack of energy and sometimes hot flushes. But male menopause and the consequent media-coined term manopause are not medically recognised terms.
Dr Chris says: "Meno means menstrual and pause means stop, So menopause literally means stopping of the menstrual cycle. Men don't have a menstrual cycle so male menopause or manopause are incorrect terms. The correct term is andropause, androgen hormones are the male hormones, namely testosterone. Another term is testosterone deficiency syndrome, TDS."
Andropause brings about physical and psychological changes that alter a man's quality of life. It can make men anxious, angry, depressed and with a diminished sex drive. Some of the common problems that occur during andropause are hot flashes, moodiness and irritability, fat build-up around the abdomen and the chest, loss of muscle mass, dry, thin skin and excessive sweating.
Dr Chris says: "Symptoms can be tiredness, weakness, loss of concentration. Most men put it down to getting old, but actually they aren't using their testosterone efficiently."
To make a diagnosis the doctor will carry out various examinations, from a physical exam to blood tests - which may include measuring testosterone levels. The Testosterone blood test checks your levels of testosterone, that may affect sexual libido, cause erectile dysfunction and infertility in men.
Dr Chris believes that: "you can't just test testosterone levels in the blood, they also have to check for testosterone resistance - your body is resistant to using the testosterone available. Doctors can't just base their decision on a piece of paper from a lab, you have to listen to the patient."
Andropause can be managed without medical treatment. Simple/ healthier lifestyle changes like a healthier diet, regular exercise and reduction of stress levels are usually advised. However, if the Andropause is causing disruption to daily life, testosterone replacement therapy may be offered. DR CHRIS SAYS: "When a women goes to the doctor for menopause treatment she is given hormone replacement therapy (HRT) but we need to start doing this for men." However, it's a controversial idea, given that many people feel synthetic testosterone can have damaging side effects including increasing the risk of prostate cancer and heart disease.
Dr Chris disagrees: "Male HRT helps you in the bedroom and helps you in the boardroom. It's amazing for men's confidence levels and I've seen some wonderful success stories. There are all these rumours that testosterone treatment increases the risk of prostate cancer, heart disease and strokes but that's just not true. I have done research into this and actually there is some evidence that the hormones can protect against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's."
Society for the study of Androgen Deficiency (Andropause Society)
Centre for Men's Health
Dr Chris recommends watching the Centre for Men's Health's interview with Professor Malcolm Carruthers, below.