Time magazine ran a cover story on "manopause" this week, based on a recent University of Sydney study that found the testosterone industry globally is booming, especially among middle-aged and older men who want to increase longevity and libido, boost energy and “power, passion and performance."
And There's Good Reason Why
Testosterone is what makes men MEN.
Strength, energy, a healthy immune system, pain-free joints, the ability to recuperate from a grueling workout and come back the next day for more, staying sharp mentally, enjoying a great sex life, and possessing the capacity to still perform...all of these are directly related to a man's testosterone level.
When we consider all of the benefits that testosterone delivers, it is easy to see why the industry is experiencing such exploding growth.
In fact, the question is not why that's happening.
The real problem is why every man in the world is not doing something to replenish his testosterone levels, levels that begin to drop off around the age of 30 at a rate of approximately 10% per decade.
Across the U.S., as well as the entire world, men are jabbing themselves with needles, wiping on gels, sticking on patches, and inserting implants under their skin.
These approaches are done to look better, feel younger, and beat what is now being called the “manopause.”
In the land of clichés, a decade ago, a man’s mid-life crisis meant a shiny red sports car and a blonde girlfriend “escort” half his age hanging onto his arm.
Today, it’s extreme diets and workout routines, single-digit body fat, gym selfies of sucked-in stomachs -- and a several-billion-dollar global industry in testosterone.
So what is manopause?
Some relate it to a mid-age natural decline in testosterone production -- called andropause -- which leads to weight gain, libido loss, and a wide array of other health problems.
Go back and re-read the second paragraph. Then imagine how men feel when these benefits and joys of manhood...the things that make life worth living and deliver the pure, unadulterated pleasure of being alive...are leaving a man's body, in a treacherous manner of betrayal and treason.
When seen in this light, what man in his right mind would not want to maintain his health, youthful vitality, and virility?
But Not Everyone Sees it That Way
Lisa Friedman Bloch and Kathy Kirtland Silverman, the authors of Manopause, define it as: "a powerful force that hits men between the ages of 40 and 65, as declining testosterone collides head-on with the cultural pressures men feel … Pressures like having to 'man up,' to be strong, powerful, even invulnerable, to hide emotion, and always to be able to perform sexually.”
Urban Dictionary defines it as: “Men in their early to mid-50s who lose their minds because they are going through 'the change.'"
But Professor David Handelsman, the author of the study, said manopause was “a consumerist fiction invented to fleece the gullible, worried [well-off men] with more money than sense.
There is presently a global epidemic of unproven and possibly unsafe testosterone prescribing -- much worse in North America than here --, but we seem to follow like sheep.”
Professor Handelsman’s study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, found that between 2000 and 2011, world testosterone sales increased 12-fold from $150 million to $1.8 billion.
Per capita use rose in 37 out of 41 countries surveyed -- and the increase has been particularly acute in the past five years.
The Good Professor is Quite Concerned
The problem (according to Handelsman) is that testosterone is often handed out through off-label prescriptions, and used when not needed.
Professor Handelsman wrote that although there is little understanding of how it worked, testosterone was subject to "surging overuse from off-label prescribing for diverse unproven indications, including use in older men as an anti-aging or sexual tonic and younger men for bodybuilding or doping."
Professor Handelsman found in a previous study that drops in testosterone had more to do with poor diet, obesity, or smoking than aging.
One study found sesame oil injections had the same impact as testosterone injections, which suggests the placebo effect is a powerful motivating force, especially when it propels men to eat better and move more.
Those points are hard to argue.
But the professor is overlooking one crucial fact: as stated, men who are aware of the insidious effects of low testosterone levels quite often improve their lifestyles while undergoing testosterone replacement therapy.
However, if the placebo effect is as strong as he implies, is that necessarily a bad thing? If a substance is taken, and the results are what was expected, where is the harm?
In many ways, these men are guinea pigs, often self-administering drugs with unknown risks.
Two studies have found an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes while taking testosterone.
A 2010 study had to be aborted because the older men involved were thought to be too much at risk of “adverse cardiovascular events."
However, the issue of the health risks involved with testosterone replacement therapy is far from settled.
Recently, a European Medicines Agency (EMA) review committee has concluded that there's no consistent evidence that testosterone increases the risk of heart problems in men with hypogonadism.
Also, European regulators decided that the evidence about testosterone's risks and benefits is inconsistent.
Several studies have shown an increased risk of heart problems, while others did not, the agency said in a press release. So, the jury is still out.
Some Would like Men to Suffer from Lower Testosterone Levels
Author Jill Shaw Ruddock says an increase in estrogen in the male body means 60-year-old men might: “Start exhibiting behavior that may start to surprise even him -- calling the children every day, learning how to cook and worrying about home decorating or how the dish towels are folded and put away.”
Ms. Ruddock apparently didn't conduct a study among “60-year-old men” to see if they agree with her conclusions.
Perhaps there is a good reason why she didn't.
Professor Handelsman said the excitement about manopause is “a re-emergence of the rejuvenation fantasies that recur whenever society can afford such indulgences as believing that aging can be somehow avoided.”
Again, the good professor sounds like a chapter president of the Flat Earth Society.
In the past several decades, the aging process has been slowed down considerably. In 1900, the average American male could expect to live to the ripe old age of 47.
Today, the average lifespan has grown to 78. With continual breakthroughs in nanotechnology and stem cells, we could probably be on the verge of an incredible advance in longevity.
The bottom line is this: it is up to each man to decide to fight the aging process, and if testosterone replacement is right for him.
Contact our clinic to discuss your testosterone replacement options.
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