Male Menopause
Not A Myth Say Doctors
Sophia Harris
Reports For CBC TV
TORONTO - The idea of a middle-aged men going through a mid-life crisis is nothing new. But now some doctors say it may well be more than just a phase, and they're setting up clinics to deal with "male menopause".
The condition, known as andropause, afflicts about a third of all men over 40, according to the Canadian Andropause Society.
It's caused by the level of the testosterone, a steroid hormone, dropping too low, which can lead to fatigue, depression, and lowered sex drive.
Even though it's common, many people are unaware of the problem. In a recent survey, 40 per cent of the men interviewed said they didn't believe male menopause existed.
Doctors say the medical community itself is just now starting to pay more attention.
"There's an explosion of research now talking about declining testosterone levels, declining stamina," says Dr. David Saul, of the Canadian Andropause Society.
A new blood test can easily determine if testosterone levels are too low, and there are now drugs available to replenish the body's supply, according to Saul.
Hormone replacement to treat menopause in women has been around for some time, although critics have questioned whether topping up estrogen levels is actually a good idea.
Studies are divided on whether estrogen replacement improves sex drive and reduces depression. There is also disagreement on whether it can cause health problems, from gallbladder disease to cancer.
Doctors say research into what happens to men's bodies as they age is about 25 years behind similar studies for women.
Meanwhile, a patch developed to help raise testosterone levels in men with andropause is now being reviewed by Health Canada.