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The term male menopause was coined in the late 1940s for a condition whose symptoms included emotional upsets and uncharacteristic behaviour but became something of a joke.

The concept has recently been revived by various specialists, who call it the andropause, a word coined using the Greek prefix andro-, “man”, plus pause, also from Greek, which here means “cessation; stop”, as it does not only in menopause but also in some technical terms such as tropopause or magnetopause. A better-established related term in medicine, dating from the early seventies, is andrology, the study of male reproductive disorders.

The principal symptoms of the andropause are loss of libido, decline of memory, increased fatigue and risk of osteoporosis, which can occur at any age from about 30 onwards, but are most common about 50 and which are associated with lowered levels of testosterone.

Some specialists argue this is a real condition, often with devastating consequences for the sufferer, but which can be treated by appropriate synthetic sex hormones. The adjective is andropausal. Other names for it include viropause, PADAM, short for “partial androgen deficiency of the ageing male”, Low T, short for “low testosterone” and the jokey man-opause.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.

Page created 25 Jan 1997; Last updated 25 Sep 2014