Male ‘menopause’ is no myth

When, at 41, Dr Dan Hegarty
suffered from muscle aches, a low libido and lethargy, he didn’t expect to be
diagnosed with a women’s condition.

Involuntarily nodding off in the
afternoons is not conducive to the work of a GP, so it was with some alarm that
Dan Hegarty found himself doing it at a mere 41 years old. But his biggest
shock of all came when he was told what was wrong with him – he was going
through the menopause.

“The male menopause was a term I’d
never heard of as a doctor,” said Dr. Hegarty, now 54. “But I happened to read
an article about it in a GP publication and the symptoms described me. My
concentration was lagging to the extent that I couldn’t even watch a film all
the way through and I had to swap the quality papers for the tabloids. I was
feeling really fatigued, I was getting irritating muscle aches in my legs and I
also experienced a decrease in libido.”

He wasn’t convinced about following
it up. On the one hand, there has been huge controversy around the so-called
male menopause, with most studies flatly denying its existence and pointing out
that most of the symptoms – which can also include depression, weight gain,
irritability, night sweats and hot flushes – are, to put it bluntly, due to men
getting on a bit. Either that or they’re suffering from obesity, general poor
health, unemployment or partner-fatigue. On the other hand, what harm could it
do just to check if he had become testosterone deficient? He booked the
appointment.

Dr. Hegarty, who has since become
an occupational health physician, chose to see the doctor who’d written the
article – Dr. Malcolm Carruthers, who turned out to be one of the biggest names
in the field of male menopause. Dr. Carruthers gave him a thorough physical
examination. “Depending on the symptoms and findings, he tells you whether
you’re suffering from the male menopause,” said Dr. Hegarty – or, as Dr. Carruthers
prefers to call it, “late-onset hypogonadism” (literally, getting on in years
and underwhelmed in the gonads). “I fitted the bill,” said Dr. Hegarty.

Hormone replacement therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy
comes in a number of forms, but most common at that time was pellets that can
be implanted into men’s buttocks (just as HRT is implanted into the abdomen of
women) and pills. “I took the pills,” said Dr. Hegarty, who had 40mg five times
a day.

“Within six months, I felt
energetic and my concentration was back. The muscle aches went and although I
didn’t turn into an sex god overnight, my libido picked up enough to have what
most people would consider a normal private life.”

Dr. Hegarty’s confidence improved
too. “I don’t think it would be exaggerating to say TRT could save a marriage.
At the time I started taking it, my marriage had ended but because of the TRT –
and I really do believe it was because of the TRT – I entered a new phase of
life and remarried.”

Eleven years later, TRT has moved
on apace and there are not only long-acting injections but a gel, which Dr.
Hegarty uses. “I rub on the Testogel on my shoulders once a day after my shower
and by the time I’ve brushed my teeth, it’s dry,” he said.

Over the past two decades,
Dr. Carruthers has treated over 2,000 men.

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