Male Menopause: Fact or Fiction?

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An upsurge in media attention regarding the so-called "male menopause" has left many men rushing to their doctor to treat symptoms they believe may be related to low levels of testosterone. The thought behind the concept of male menopause is that the decline in testosterone levels that occurs as men age may produce a characteristic and potentially treatable set of symptoms. Male menopause is also commonly referred to as low-T, andropause, or its medical name, late-onset hypogonadism.

However, some medical experts argue that the analogy to the process in women (with some authors even using terminology like "male PMS") has been carried too far. While it is true that testosterone levels do decline as a man ages, the decline in female hormones occurs to a much greater extent. Moreover, the symptoms in women associated with decreased estrogen levels are clearly understood.

In contrast, symptoms of what is referred to as male menopause are less clearly defined. Sexual dysfunction is a common complaint, but other nonspecific symptoms such as depression, mood changes, weight gain, or fatigue, have been interpreted by some as symptoms of a male midlife change. Although many doctors have treated midlife symptoms in men with testosterone hormone therapy, the value of male hormone therapy remains controversial because there are few long-term studies about the effects or benefits of testosterone supplementation.