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 Thursday, 26 December, 2002, 00:19 GMT
Male menopause fears highlighted
Middle aged man
The male menopause is a controversial issue
As many as one third of men experience symptoms which they put down to going through the menopause, research suggests.

Swedish researchers found that symptoms such as sweating and hot flushes were relatively common in men over the age of 55.

The team, from Linkoping University, also found that acupuncture can be used to alleviate menopausal symptoms in women.

The scientists believe the same protein - called CGRP - could be responsible for symptoms in both men and women.

CGRP acts to expand the blood vessels, which can lead to both sweating and hot flushes.

But production of the protein appears to be disrupted by a decrease in sex hormones such as testosterone and oestrogen.

Controlling levels of CGRP may lead to new ways to treat menopausal complaints.

Sex hormone levels

The researchers asked more than 1,800 men over the age of 55 whether they had experienced menopausal symptoms.

They found that symptoms were more likely among men who also showed symptoms typically associated with low levels of the male sex hormone testosterone. These included reduced muscle strength, poor stamina and low spirits.

The researchers further examined their theory by focusing on men who had undergone treatment for prostate cancer.

They found that those who underwent treatment with the female sex hormone oestrogen were less likely to experience menopausal symptoms than those who underwent surgery, which leads to a drop in testosterone levels.

In a second study, the researchers studied the impact of acupuncture as a potential treatment for menopausal women.

Viable alternative

They found that in some women it reduced discomfort by about 75%.

The researchers say their findings indicate that acupuncture may be a viable alternative for women who cannot or do not want to use oestrogen treatment.

Not everybody is convinced there is such a thing as the male menopause.

Addressing the British Psychological Society annual conference in 2002, psychologist Lorraine Boul, from Sheffield University, suggested that the male menopause may be all in the mind.

She said men could be as sexually active in their 60s as they were in their 20s.

See also:

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