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When i hit 50 my weight went up and my energy and sex drive went down dramatically. Is this the male menopause, and what can i do about it ?

Around a third of men in the 40 to 69 age group complain or a range of symptoms that commonly include loss of libido, erectile dysfunction (inability to get or maintain an erection), depression, and worsening memory and concentration. These are the classic symptoms of the andropause - otherwise known as the 'male menopause'.

Despite years of research - pioneered in Britain by Dr Malcolm Carruthers, author of The Testosterone Revolution - many doctors still deny the existence of the male menopause. However, these symptoms, and especially depression, should be taken seriously. Depression in men is harder to diagnose since men tend to get angry rather than sad. They are also more likely to commit suicide. Luckily, there are many ways of combating the andropause.

First off, if the symptoms above sound like yours, it is well worth having your testosterone levels measured. If low, meaning below 12 nmol/L, then you may benefit from restosterone replacement therapy. However, symptoms are as important, if not more so, than testosterone levels in the blood. This is because most testosterone in the blood is not 'free', but bound and consequently unavailable. If your doctor also measures your Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) it is possible to estimate your level of 'free' testosterone. Salivary testosterone levels may be a better indicator, backed up by symptoms. The salivary test also measures your DHEA levels. These tests are also available through clinical nutritionists.

If you do have low testosterone, supplementing extra can really help. Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor studied 680 men aged between 50 and 89 and found a direct relationship between testosterone levels and mood. In the UK, Dr Carruthers has treated 1,500 men and found a consistent elevation in mood once testosterone levels become normal. Testosterone is only available on prescription from doctors.

From a nutritional point of view, make sure you are eating adequate protein and slow-releasing carbohydrates. Essential fats are required for healthy sperm and prostate function, antioxidant nutrients protect testosterone from being destroyed and zinc helps everthing to do with sexual health and hormonal balance.

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