ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Hot flashes ... Mood swings ... Losing your sex drive! All of these things are signs of change -- signs of menopause. But these signs are not just for women. Twenty-five million men between ages 40 and 55 are currently going through male menopause.
"Male menopause is the lowering of the male hormone testosterone that occurs naturally with aging," John Morley, M.D., a gerontologist at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, tells Ivanhoe.
And other experts agree it's happening.
Endocrinologist Ugis Gruntmanis, M.D., of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, says, "I think it's quite a difficult problem for men to find out because symptoms are very unspecific."
They say men going through menopause can experience muscle loss, osteoporosis, nervousness, fatigue, weight gain and low sex drive.
Essentially, "It makes you unenthused about life," Dr. Morley says.
The big difference between male and female menopause? Dr. Morley says the male menopause takes place over a number of maybe 10 or 20 years.
Male menopause can be diagnosed with a blood test to check testosterone levels. Studies show testosterone replacement in men can enhance libido and sexual function. It can also improve bone density and muscle mass.
"We give them testosterone back, and suddenly they say, 'My life is just much more fun; I'm enjoying life more,'" Dr. Morley says.
A key concern is that this treatment may increase the risk of prostate cancer, but some men believe it's worth it.
Doctors are hoping a long-term study will be done on testosterone replacement therapy. So far, there are no results for the risks it could cause later in life. Doctors know the growth of prostate cancer can be slowed by getting rid of testosterone in the body but aren't sure if adding it can cause the disease. Currently only 5 percent of the men experiencing male menopause are being treated for it.
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