A GP is highlighting a “forgotten epidemic” blighting the lives of men across the UK – the male menopause, or ‘manopause.’
Dr Jeff Foster, of TFJ Private GP Services in Leamington, argues its hidden identity is in part due to the fact the NHS does not screen for the condition, despite the fact once identified through a simple blood test, is easily treated with a testosterone or male sex hormone boost that can be injected or ingested.
Male under-reporting can caused by ignorance or embarrassment as menopause is more identified as a female condition caused by the natural drop in oestrogen levels at the end of a woman’s reproductive life.
Dr Foster said: “For many years, the concept of andropause, the male menopause, has been something that has often been dismissed by the general public and doctors alike, with suggestions that its symptoms – depression, poor concentration, obesity, loss of muscle, poor sex drive, fatigue and tiredness – are the result of the stress of modern life and/or poor lifestyle choices.
“However, there is now good evidence that the symptoms of the manopause are caused by a testosterone deficiency and need not be endured as part of the natural part of the ageing process; especially as they are associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and bone thinning.
“Around five per cent of the male population over the age of 40 are estimated to suffer from low testosterone. This equates to between 600,000 and 900,000 men across the country: “It’s a forgotten epidemic,” said Dr Foster.
“Testosterone deficiency can manifest itself in many ways. In fact, symptoms of testosterone deficiency are so varied that many patients do not consider going to their doctor to ask about them.”
Dr Foster believes although there is an association between ageing and a reduction in testosterone production, this alone should not be reason to accept a life of low testosterone when it is associated with symptoms.
“While some patients may suffer from an inherited condition that causes low testosterone, much more commonly, a reduced testosterone level is caused by a range of other factors, such as asthma, obesity, use of anti-depressants, strong painkillers, or steroids, cancer treatments, infections, liver or kidney disease, use of cannabis, and even long-term excessive exercise.”
Any man experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone should see his GP. Testing for low testosterone is done via a simple blood test performed between 7am and 10:30am, when males naturally produce their highest levels of the hormone.
If testosterone is prescribed, it can be given either orally, through injections or via a gel.
Dr Foster added “For most men, testosterone therapy is safe and carefully monitored, and can reduce the risk of other diseases, as well as massively improve quality of life.
“Male menopause is no longer something that should be trivialised or ignored and men should not feel ashamed or embarrassed about seeing their doctor to discuss the feelings of a loss of focus, drive, energy, or desire in their life.”