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Male Menopause 7 News Boston

Dr. Erol Onel with Chris May 7News Boston


Male Menopause

Fatigue, mood swings, hot flashes, they're all signs of menopause in women. But what about men? In 7News Reports, Chris May takes a closer look at "Male Menopause."

A few years ago, Bruce Eicher felt the music was gone from his life. He told his doctor his sex drive was a bit 'off key.'

Bruce Eicher, Patient
"He kind of said well now, it's your age. Just don't worry about it, and I wasn't quite satisfied with that answer."

57 year-old Don Gelles was tired all the time and wasn't interested in doing anything.

Don Gelles, Patient
"I was a little depressed, little cranky and when the hot flashes came, you know, then I knew something was wrong."

Both men were suffering from low levels of the hormone testosterone, sometimes diagnosed as "Male Menopause."

Dr. Erol Onel, New England Medical Center
"There is very little doubt that "Male Menopause" does exist as a real phenomenon."

Just like women lose the hormone estrogen as they get older, some doctors believe men lose testosterone. While it is a more gradual process than menopause in women, studies suggest by age 70, many men produce only a third of the testosterone they once pumped out. For some, that can lead to a long list of symptoms.

Dr. Erol Onel
"It can be libido, it can be constitutional symptoms, weakness, fatigue, it can be cognitive symptoms, psychiatric depression."

It also means less muscle mass, bone mass, and extra fat. But do those symptoms really point to menopause, or simply aging?

Dr. Irwin Goldstein, Boston Medical Center
"Male menopause does not exist."

Dr. Irwin Goldstein says his research shows men do not lose testosterone, as they age. Goldstein took blood samples from over 1700 men in 11 cities and towns around Boston. He found men age 40 to 70, all had similar levels of testosterone. In fact, he says men with low testosterone only make up 4 percent of the population.

Dr. Irwin Goldstein
"Men do age, men do have depression, men have diminish in strength and endurance. Does that mean all of those men have low testosterone as an explanation? There's no data to support that."

However, both doctors agree that some men do have low levels of testosterone, which can cause low sex drive, fatigue, and even depression. Those men may find relief with testosterone replacement therapy.

Years ago that meant getting a series of shots, now men can chose to wear a patch or rub on a new FDA approved gel. But as easy as it sounds, there can be serious side effects.

Dr. Erol Onel
"The main minus for testosterone replacement is potentially aggravating Prostate Cancer and that is a pretty big minus."

Other side effects include an increase in facial hair, acne, and higher incidents of stroke and heart disease because of that patients need to be monitored closely.

As for Don and Bruce, testosterone therapy has them both singing a new tune.

Don Gelles
"One hundred percent better, ok. I have energy. I feel like doing things."

Bruce Eicher
"I found the solution, so I hope other people will too."

Doctors say even though sexual dysfunction can be a sign of low testosterone, it's more likely a sign of vascular disease and should be checked by a doctor. 

full article at  7News Boston


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