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Wednesday, 6 December, 2000, 00:30 GMT
'Testosterone the answer'
Both men and women can experience a 'menopause'
Both men and women can experience a 'menopause'
The debate about whether men do indeed go through a menopause rages on. But here, one man tells how the symptoms were threatening his marriage and his job.

Bernard Collen first noticed unusual symptoms 11 years ago. He was working as a buyer at London's Covent Garden flower market, a demanding job which required him to get up at 0230 every morning.

He told BBC News Online: "I was feeling tired, run-down and very irritable on most occasions. I had also lost my libido. I put it down to my job.

"But it was primarily the mood swings that were the biggest strain on my wife and my step-son as well.

"I didn't know what to do, or where to turn."

He thought a doctor would simply put the problems down to his age or his job.

And he admitted: "Usually the answer men seek is an 18-year old blonde."

Crucial appointment

He was still uncertain what to do when his wife read a newspaper article about the male menopause, and contacted Dr Malcolm Carruthers, chairman of the newly formed Andropause Society.

"He invited me to come along and have a blood test. He then suggested I could benefit from treatment, but he said we should take it one step at a time.

"I started on testosterone capsule. And within a couple of weeks, it felt like a great weight had been lifted. I became much more assured rather than aggressive."

Before the treatment, Mr Collen, 54, said he was going "round and round in circles", unable to make decisions in a very pressurised job where fast decisions were required.

He added: "A bonus was that my libido came back."

Within a couple of weeks, it felt like a great weight had been lifted

Bernard Collen
He said men often failed to recognise the signs. "There are many people who show the symptoms and do nothing about it, or like myself, have a wife who pushes them into doing something.

"Men, by definition, don't usually do much about their health. For me, this has brought my health into focus."

When he went for his initial blood tests, Mr Collen found he also had high cholesterol - something else he now keeps a check on.

Eleven years after the initial diagnosis, he still takes testosterone - now in implant form.

He did make changes to his life, but he added: "I changed my job, but my condition didn't change."

After initial embarrassment, he is now happy to talk publicly about his experience.

"Like every man, I felt a bit embarrassed talking about it initially, but I've spoken to hundreds and hundreds of in people because there's always an interest."

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05 Dec 00 | Health
Call for men to get HRT
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