U of A pharmacy researchers study ‘male menopause’ and what it means for aging men

The researchers decided to research this topic because of evidence suggesting that men’s health issues are understudied and under addressed.

University of Alberta researchers discover that a lot of men suffer from a decrease of testosterone as they get older — and most of the time it goes unnoticed. 

Cheryl Sadowski, professor in the faculty of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, and Nathan Beahm, assistant clinical professor in the faculty of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, decided to research and shine light on a mens health issue, which often goes overlooked, known as male menopause or hypogonadism. These terms refer to the dropping of men’s testosterone levels.

The researchers decided to research this topic because of evidence suggesting that men’s health issues are understudied and under addressed. 

“Men don’t interact as much with the healthcare system so we wanted to highlight some men’s health issues and help support pharmacists to better care for men in their community,” Sadowski said. 

According to Sadowski, just a few men tend to be affected by hypogonadism in their 40s, but this increases with age. It affects about 10 per cent of men in their 50s, 20 per cent of men in their 60s, and 30 per cent of men in  their 70s. 

The researchers believe there are many ways this research may benefit practitioners, pharmacists, and patients alike. 

“We want pharmacists to be more engaged in starting the discussion,” Sadowski said. “There are health conditions that can lower testosterone, and there is medication that can lower testosterone, so it’s important that pharmacists are part of that assessment and for normalizing some discussions so that men can talk about these symptoms.” 

According to Sadowski this is important to note, because there are special restrictions around testosterone prescriptions due to it potentially being  “misused.” An individual would still need a prescription from their physician for testosterone, and it would be carefully monitored. 

Due to the restrictions around testosterone prescriptions, Beahm expresses his encouragement towards pharmacists to get involved in helping actually having that screening and identifying when patients have a testosterone deficiency which may need treatment. 

“Hopefully pharmacists can perhaps get more involved in screening and identifying patients that might be exhibiting signs and symptoms of possibly having testosterone deficiency or hypogonadism and perhaps initiating the process of screening them,” Beahm said. “Then potentially, if they meet the criteria, doing blood tests and working with the patients to determine the formulation that would be ideal for them, 

For those wondering about the difference between the way men and women experience menopause, Sadowski said it’s important to note that male menopause — or ‘manopause’ is not the official medical term, and would be better described medically as ‘hypogonadism.’ 

“All women will go through menopause and that’s a guarantee,” Sadowski said. “It’s not a guarantee for men. You can be 80 [years old] and have no symptoms.” 

“Not all men have symptoms that meet the criteria for hypogonadism, and not all of them will require treatment — this is similar to women,” Beahm added. 

Because this is an issue that affects such a wide age range of men, it would be recommended to get checked out, pharmacists, physicians, and patients alike are encouraged to start the discussion.

“People should begin the discussion with their pharmacists,” Sadowski advised. This is something to start taking into consideration and possibly just trying to have that initial conversation and feel comfortable seeking the help you may need.

Iman Qureshi

Iman is one of the 2021-22 Arts & Culture Deputy Editors at The Gateway. She’s a second year STS major. When she is not obsessing over her cat, she can be found curating her perfect list of future cats.

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