Middle-aged men turn to HRT to revive tired egos

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The Independent Online
Middle-aged men are turning into a generation of "Alf Garnets with hormone patches trying to be Ziggy Stardust" - hoping to solve their mid-life crises by turning to hormone replacement therapy.

Members of the baby-boomer generation are turning to sex and drugs in the guise of testosterone replacement therapy to cure their middle- age blues, rather than employing the love and peace they espoused in their youth.

There is no biological evidence for the male menopause, the British Psychological Society annual conference heard yesterday, and slapping on hormone patches is no more than an attempt to find a "quick fix" to "jump start a dead libido".

More and more men are turning to HRT, which costs around pounds 700 a year, to boost their sex drive although evidence shows that it works only in a small minority who have severely affected testosterone levels.

The increasing popularity of blaming everything on our hormones, said psychologist Lorraine Boul of Sheffield University, is leading to rising numbers of "Alf Garnets with hormone patches trying to be Ziggy Stardust".

She told the conference in Edinburgh that men who had identified the female menopause and its remedies had "fallen for their own invention" and adapted it to explain male feelings of insecurity.

A review of more than 100 studies had shown there was no evidence that sexual function in men was linked to a drop in sex hormones. "Testosterone levels drop by 1 per cent a year from the age of 30 and even at 50 per cent they were still quite able to function," said Ms Boul. Instead, the male menopause was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

She interviewed 308 men aged between 30 and 69 about their concerns about middle age. A quarter said they believed in the concept of a male menopause.

Many reported symptoms of tiredness and irritability and a handful said they had experienced erectile failure or other sexual difficulties. Four said they were on TRT.

But, said Ms Boul, the idea of a male menopause was a convenient way for "ageing hippies" to describe what was going wrong in their lives.

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