Male Menopause? No Myth

Most people think of menopause as a mid-life change women go through, complete with hot flashes and mood swings. But men can also go through some of those changes.

Early Show "Healthwatch" contributor Dr. Holly Phillips has surprising information about male menopause.

Is there really a male menopause? This isn't something we've heard that much about.

Yes, men do have drops in hormone levels like women. For men it's testosterone, for women it's estrogen. The big difference is, for women menopause signals a time when they stop ovulating, when they can no longer have babies. Men through their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, it's a different situation.

Men can feel symptoms - lethargy for one. What's most important is if you are having symptoms, if have fatigue, you don't feel like yourself, the most important thing is to get to the doctor because it may not be male menopause causing these symptoms.

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Decreased Libido
  • Anemia
  • Loss of Bone Density

    At what age do you need to be on the lookout if you are experiencing any or all of these things?

    Male menopause is different in that it starts earlier and goes over a long period of time. You can see changes beginning in your 40s and then go all the way through your 80s.

    How is it diagnosed?

    There's a blood test to test for testosterone levels. More importantly, get to the doctor and make sure nothing else is going on.

    Do you get a sense that more and more people are coming in with symptoms of male menopause? Is it something that's basically turned a new leaf here medically - is it more prevalent than ten years ago?

    I would say people are more interested in it, they're looking at possible symptoms. And there are treatments as well: We can give testosterone, usually in injections or a gel or patch form. But it's not for everyone because there are risks.

    There are certain things you can do non-medically to not exacerbate some of the symptoms. These are certain behaviors you really need to stay away from:

    Risk Factors:

  • Excessive Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Poor Diet
  • Lack of Exercise

    I mean, you take part in all that, and forget about it - you'll have these symptoms a lot sooner. One more good reason to take care of yourself by exercising - you don't have to be in the gym for hours a day, a half an hour four times a week is enough to make a really big difference.

    Side effects to treatments?

    There can be side effects. Just like with women's hormone replacement therapy, men's has risks, too. It can increase your chances of getting a blood clot, and cause increased chances of prostate cancer. So it's you and your doctor making this decision together.