The term male menopause has been used to describe the period when testosterone levels decrease, but is there such a thing, and can its symptoms mask other complaints?
Dr. Emmet Byrne, Specialist in cardio-metabolic health and men's health, joined Today with Claire Byrne to discuss the male menopause.
Byrne says the term has taken root in men's health in recent years, adding that "it's obviously piggybacked off the female menopause term".
However, the two are not the same, he says. "It's slightly inaccurate in that sense. The menopause from the female perspective is a binary cut-off from roughly the age of around 51. What can't be ignored and where it correlates to some degree is there is a deterioration in relation to hormonal levels in some men as they get older."
This deterioration, however, is slightly more gradual. Still, it can have effects on men's health.
Experts rely on a number of scales to measure this, one being the Ageing Male Symptoms score, and the Androgen Deficiency in the Adult Male. They are used to find three criteria and symptoms.
Physical symptoms include fatigue, increased anxieties as your "coping mechanisms become stretched as you get older", depressed mood, a loss of strength, a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in central obesity.
A loss of libido, struggling to maintain erections and a desire for sex in general can also be symptoms, he says.
Byrne says that "it's the second most common endocrine condition for men", behind diabetes. Testosterone works on androgen receptors in the body, and has the effect of managing male characteristics such as voice, strength and the brain.
Because of this, when these levels drop it can affect a man's quality of life, Byrne adds.
He explains that there are multiple types of testosterone deficiency, classical and acquired. Classical means it is inherited or congenital, while acquired means it came on later in life, such as having undergone chemotherapy or having a condition that affects the production of testosterone.
Because the symptoms of male menopause can come from lifestyle changes and general ageing, Byrne says the condition is "probably under-screened".
"We're missing it a lot, and it's not GP's fault. It's not really something that falls into the GP criteria as part of their training. It's a slightly sub-specialised area." He notes that there are other reasons for these symptoms that would need to be ruled out.
Doing a blood testosterone test will be your GP's next move, but these levels can fluctuate based on how you slept the night before and what you've eaten, so a fasted test is recommended.
One treatment for this is Testosterone Replacement Therapy, Byrne says. "With a lot of guys, what I've noticed is they get a lot of anxiety and the other common one would be fatigue, and when you treat them it's like a switch gone on.
"It changes their life, literally. I've had people coming in that have been severely depressed, people coming in with multiple panic attacks and so on, and they all just disappeared."