Researchers Identify Male Menopause Symptoms
Decreased Sex Drive and Fatigue Are Among Symptoms of Late-Onset Hypogonadism
The findings, Wu said, could help doctors identify who is at risk for male menopause and who could benefit from testosterone-replacement therapy.
"The diagnosis of classical hypogonadism is corroborated by underlying diseases affecting the testes or pituitary gland, which controls testicular function, but this well-practiced diagnostic approach is frequently found wanting when dealing with the age-related decline of testosterone in elderly men who are prone to have a significant background of non-hormone-related complaints," Wu said. "Our findings have for the first time identified the key symptoms of late-onset hypogonadism and suggest that testosterone treatment may only be useful in a relatively small number of cases where androgen deficiency is suspected, since many candidate symptoms of classic hypogonadism were not associated with decreased testosterone levels in older men."
Wu and his team noted that the differences in testosterone levels between men with symptoms and men without “were marginal, highlighting the weak overall association between symptoms and testosterone levels.” Researchers also pointed out that their data collection about the patients’ symptoms were based on the patients’ recall, so there could be a potential bias.
Wu said there is a risk of overdiagnosing male menopause, a condition some critics say is just a part of the natural aging process and not a medical condition at all. It is estimated that hormone therapy has increased by 400% in the United States since 1999, though this spike in treatment has not been observed in other countries.
"The application of these new criteria should guard against the excessive diagnosis of hypogonadism and curb the unwise use of testosterone therapy in older men,” Wu said.
A U.S. study published last month in the International Journal of Clinical Practice reported a high prevalence of hypogonadism among older men and projected that this figure would increase given the fact that men are living longer into old age. The article also reported an association between male menopause and other chronic health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and metabolic syndrome, an endocrine disorder that can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.