Could testosterone HRT help treat the male menopause?

Testosterone replacement therapy should be provided for men, according to academics who claim the male menopause is genuine. Just like in women, male sex hormones drop as they age, a study by the Harley Street-based Centre for Men’s Health has found. Men also suffer hot flushes, low libido, night sweats and joint pain, the experts claim. Otherwise known as the ‘andropause’ syndrome, symptoms can include weight gain, muscle weakness and depression. One in five men over the age of 50 are thought to suffer from testosterone deficiency, researchers found. And in a study of 2,000 men with the syndrome, the majority benefited from therapy, the Daily Telegraph reported last night.

Professor Malcolm Carruthers, chief medical officer at the Centre for Men’s Health, said: ‘This study proves the therapy’s effectiveness… but most importantly supports the safety of testosterone treatment over long periods.’

Prof Carruthers also called for improved testing of testosterone levels, fearing some men could remain within ‘normal levels’ yet still be deficient. ‘Contrary to orthodox theory, there is no threshold for testosterone levels. Resistance to the hormone could be caused by age, stress, obesity intake or genetic factors,’ he added.

Recent research has suggested men with low testosterone levels are likely to have a shorter life expectancy than those considered normal. Other studies have linked it to obesity and diabetes – although scientists say it is too early to tell if hormone therapy could ease those conditions.

The latest findings – published in the Journal of the Ageing – have been met with scepticism from some. Professor Jonathan Seckl, from Edinburgh University, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘It doesn’t appear to add much to a complex topic that cries out for a large, blinded, randomised clinical trial’. Professor Frederick Wu, of Manchester University, added that the findings were ‘potentially dangerous’ because they could lead ‘men to be treated, inappropriately, with testosterone’.

The male menopause has long been a source of controversy with many medics calling it little more than a myth. Some believe that because there is no sudden decline in testosterone levels, as with women, the phenomenon cannot be likened to a menopause. Instead, it is thought the reduction in sex hormones in men is more gradual, decreasing from the mid-30s. Others have suggested the male menopause is triggered by stress and anxiety of a midlife crisis.