'Male menopause' idea questioned

Image caption,
Sad man

The "male menopause" is a myth, according to a review.

Some doctors have linked a fall in testosterone levels as men get older to symptoms such as depression and low sex drive.

But an editorial in Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin says many men reporting symptoms have normal hormone levels.

They warn against giving synthetic testosterone as it can increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Doctors are divided on the idea that men go through a well-defined "menopause".

Some doctors advocate the use of synthetic testosterone to relieve some of the symptoms associated with so-called male menopause such as weakness, depression and sexual problems.

But the journal says that unlike the menopause in women, where levels of the female hormone fall dramatically, testosterone levels fall by only 1 to 2% a year from the age of 40 onwards in men.

Around 80% of 60-year-olds and half of those in their 80s still have levels within the normal range.

The editorial concludes: "There is no place for testosterone therapy in older men without symptoms, or without clearly low testosterone concentrations on more than one occasion."

Risks vs benefits

Commenting on the report, Dr Ian Banks, a GP and president of the Men's Health Forum, said: "What the paper says is that the doctor must assess the risks versus the benefits of giving testosterone."

He said men seeking a "quick fix" for symptoms such as tiredness and lack of sex drive should consider lifestyle changes first.

"We've got to get the message over to resist the temptation of the quick fix and look at things such as lifestyle that you can do something about," he added.

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