Menopausal men get hormone relief

FIRST there were hormone replacement patches for women going through the menopause. Now it is the turn of the men, writes Liz Hunt.

Testosterone patches for the middle-aged man suffering loss of libido, hot flushes and all the other traumatic side-effects of "the change" should be available in Britain by the end of the year.

The patches were approved for use by drug licensing authorities in the United States last week, and are likely to be available here within a year. Malcolm Carruthers, one of the country's few andrologists - "the male equivalent of a gynaecologist" - hailed their availability as a "big advance".

"Doctors will be able to do double-blind trials with testosterone, and show that after 50 years of ignorance, the male menopause is a very real condition that needs to be treated."

He says few men recognise the menopause although they know something is wrong. "They think it's just 'life'. They will deny it because it is not macho, but there is an andropause [when testosterone levels decline] like the menopause."

Dr Carruthers says his own research on patients attending his Harley Street practice has shown that the male menopause can strike between 32 and 80, but peak occurrence is between 45 and 50. Symptoms include fatigue, depression, loss of sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, irritability and even hot flushes.

Doctors say the beauty of the product is that two patches deliver 5mg of the natural form of testosterone over 24 hours. This produces levels that mimic the daily pattern of the hormone in healthy men rather than the abnormal peaks and troughs of existing therapies.