The butt of countless comedy routines, male menopause is no joke to men like Charles Amos. For the 55-year-old financial consultant from Houston, the male version of the change of life had left him with constant fatigue and a lagging libido.
A blood test ordered by his physician, Robert S. Tan, revealed that Amos' body was producing little or none of the vital hormone testosterone.
Tan, author of The Andropause Mystery (AMRED Publishing), immediately put Amos on testosterone-replacement therapy.
Despite its bad reputation as the he-man hormone that's the root of all male aggressiveness, testosterone plays a physiologically vital role throughout a man's life. In the womb, well-timed surges of the stuff help shape the male genitals. In adolescence, the hormone, produced by the testes, is responsible for many of the physical changes that separate the boys from the men: a deeper voice, larger muscles, and hair down there.
However, sometime between the age of 45 and 65, production of
testosterone, along with a number of other hormones, begins a long, gradual decline. In a small percentage of men, production drops too low, triggering the condition popularly known as male menopause. It's a concept physicians have only recently begun to get a handle on.
"Doctors are where they were probably 30 to 40 years ago with female menopause in terms of acceptance and understanding of the condition," says Jed Diamond, author of Surviving Male Menopause (Sourcebooks). "Back then, doctors told their female patients that their problems were all in their heads. Today, we know better."