Author: odollie

Period pain: It really can make women perform worse in their jobs

By ,

Period pains can reduce women’s attention spans and make them “slightly slower or slightly less accurate”, according to psychologists.

Women who are experiencing menstrual pains will also be less able to switch between multiple tasks, the University of Bath’s Department of Psychology found. The study, which claims to be the first of its kind to look at the effects of period pains on cognitive performance, asked 52 women to complete computer-based tasks when they were not on their menstrual cycle and then when they were.

When women had period pains, they were found to have a lower performance rating overall as they struggled with a range of attention-based jobs such as choosing between competing targets and dividing their attention between two tasks.

Dr Ed Keogh, who led the study, said: “I think the most interesting thing that we found is that this sort of common, everyday pain does have an effect on performance.

“We found across all these tasks a general dampening of performance. They [women who were menstruating] were slightly slower or slightly less accurate then when they’re not in pain.

“This shows that the effects of pain go beyond the sensory experience, affecting what we think and feel.”

The research, published in the journal Pain, shows that the effects of period pain are often overlooked and poorly understood.

Dr Keogh said it highlights the need for more research in this field to measure women’s existing coping strategies for period pain and to work on developing them to remove pain as a barrier to performance.

“If you understand what effects they have then you can try and do something about it,” he said. “We can do more research and look at how common is it? What about everyday tasks? How do people actually cope with it? I suspect they can cope with it very well and find their ways of dealing with it.”

He said some existing strategies that women use involve distracting themselves with TV or music, which can be helpful, as well as catastrophising the pain and worrying about it, which is not an effective coping strategy.

Period pain, or dysmenorrhea, affects more than 40 per cent of women on a regular basis. It is the leading cause of absenteeism from school and work among women in their teens and 20s.

Symptoms can include pain, nausea, and cramping, and up to 15 per cent of women suffering from such pain have reported it to be severe.


» Find out more about period problems Treatment at the Surrey Park Clinic

Read the Telegraph article

  Category: Period Problems
  Comments: Comments Off on Period pain: It really can make women perform worse in their jobs
  Other posts by

House prices and 9 other surprising things that can affect your fertility

By ,

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development found that for every 10 per cent rise in house prices, the birth rate drops by 1.3 per cent.

With one in seven couples (approximately 3.5 million people) experiencing fertility problems in the UK, and more and more women delaying pregnancy for work or financial reasons, the question of what (beyond age) can impact the chances of conception is a hugely important issue.

Research suggests that the reasons behind unexplained infertility are varied, and sometimes, extremely unusual. Here are a few surprising discoveries.

1. Night shifts

Earlier this year, a study by Harvard University revealed that women who work night shifts are potentially more likely to suffer from infertility problems. Women working anti-social hours had a 28 per cent reduction in eggs, in comparison to those who worked during the day. Researchers believe that this could be due to the disruption of a woman’s circadian rhythm, caused by irregular shift patterns.

2. Heavy lifting

The same Harvard study that highlighted the impact of night shifts noticed the same effect on the egg count of women whose jobs involved heavy lifting. According to researchers, women seeking fertility treatment whose work included heavy lifting (such as nurses or interior designers) produced 14% fewer eggs than women who did not, and those that were produced were of a poorer quality. This could be due to the stress such repetitive physical exertion puts on the female body and its ability to reproduce.

3. Consuming too many soft drinks

A 2016 study indicated that the frequent consumption of soft drinks could limit a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant. The artificial sweeteners used in many diet versions were associated with higher rates of infertility, while added sugar was linked to a lower quality of eggs. While the impact of individual additives needs further scrutiny, it is key to remember that the regular consumption of both diet and regular soft drinks can lead to obesity and diabetes, both of which can impact fertility.

4. Eating the wrong things (even if you’re not overweight)

An unhealthy diet and obesity can reduce a couple’s chances of conceiving. Two American studies showed that a diet high in trans-fats can damage ovaries and cause lower quality embryos, as well as impacting a couple’s fertility. Fertility problems occur both to those who are overweight and those who aren’t, but who still eat an unhealthy diet. The good news is that 2016 research indicated that losing a relatively small percentage of body weight (in this instance, 9.7lb) can double a woman’s chances of conceiving. Dr Adam Balen, chairman of the British Fertility Society, recommended that women with a high BMI consider restricting calories to 1500 per day, and taking up 35-40 minutes of daily aerobic exercise.

5. A high-pressure work environment

Last year a study revealed that women working in finance were significantly less likely to conceive through IVF than teachers. Despite the fact that investment banks have some of the best employee health schemes, the pressure of a stressful work environment, combined with volatile markets means that female staff are more likely to skip appointments and forget to take medication. Working in a male-centric environment is also said to have an impact, with teachers and women in PR, sales and marketing (who also have a higher success rate) benefiting from the support of a female environment.

6. Wine o’clock

The notorious wine o’clock practised by professional women could potentially negatively impact their fertility. A Danish study of over 6000 women aged 21-45 indicated that those who drank over 14 servings of alcohol per week (equivalent to 7 glasses of wine – higher than NHS guidelines) lowered their chances of conceiving by 18%. The NHS advises that women trying to get pregnant give up alcohol altogether in order to minimise damage to a potential foetus.

7. Having your tonsils removed

A 2016 study showed that women who have had their appendix or tonsils removed are likely to be more fertile than others. The research, undertaken over 15 years, indicated that women who had had an appendectomy increased their chances of pregnancy by 34%, while those who had had a tonsillectomy increased them by 49%, and those who’d had both by 43%. This disproves the idea that an appendectomy could damage a woman’s chances of pregnancy, as previously thought. Fertility expert Prof Allan Pacey, from the University of Sheffield argued that the surgery could have a positive impact on a woman’s immune system, improving her fertility.

8. Kissing the wrong person

In a recent Italian study of women with unexplained primary infertility, 43% of participants were found to have HHV-6A, one of the human herpes viruses. The virus is undetectable in the blood, but it is replicated in the saliva glands, meaning that it can be unknowingly passed on by kissing someone already infected. More research is required, but the findings may signal a breakthrough for the millions of women whose infertility is simply “unexplained”.

9. Having a partner that sleeps too much (or too little)

The male proclivity for a lie-in could have a negative impact on a couple’s chances of conceiving. In a survey of over 700 American couples, it was found that men who slept for longer than 9 hours (or less than 6) per night, reduced their chances of conception by over 40%. This is likely to be due to the release of testosterone overnight. The study suggests that peak fecundity could be attained by an average of 8 hours a night, but scientists were quick to point out that forcing a male partner to sleep less in the hope of having a baby was more likely to make them grumpy, more than anything.

» Find out more about Fertility Treatment at the Surrey Park Clinic

Read the Telegraph article

  Category: Infertility
  Comments: Comments Off on House prices and 9 other surprising things that can affect your fertility
  Other posts by

New alternative to HRT for menopausal women cuts hot flushes by 75%

By ,

A breakthrough drug could transform the lives of millions of women undergoing the menopause, cutting hot flushes and night sweats by nearly three quarters.

The results, unveiled yesterday by British scientists, suggest the new drug could become an alternative treatment for the menopause. The Imperial College London team say the daily pills provide hope for the many women who do not want to take HRT because of safety concerns. They said countless women ‘suffer in silence’ because of a lack of treatment options – a problem which could be solved by the new drug.

Their NHS-funded trial of the drug – which for now is known only by the code name MLE4901 – showed taking the pills reduced the number of hot flushes or night sweats by an average 73 per cent, and also cut their severity and impact. Study leader Professor Waljit Dhillo of Imperial, who presented the paper at the Endocrine Society annual conference in the US yesterday, said: ‘For day to day living and work, that’s a significant impact on quality of life.

‘If we can reduce flushing by 73 per cent it’s a game-changer for those patients.’

The menopause, which commonly strikes women in their late 40s and early 50s, is triggered when the body stops making it the oestrogen hormone. This change causes a wide range of symptoms, including mood swings, joint pain and lack of concentration. But hot flushes and night sweats are the most common symptoms, affecting 70 per cent of women going through the menopause. For many women, hot flushes are little more than an uncomfortable inconvenience. But for some, frequent severe episodes can lead to clothes and bed sheets drenched in sweat, as well as relentless waking from sleep which has a knock-on impact on their daily life.

Hormone replacement therapy – or HRT – for decades has been the go-to treatment for the menopause, tackling the symptoms by providing oestrogen as the body stops producing it. But many women go without the drug because their doctors are reluctant to prescribe it.

The number of women taking HRT plummeted after scares in in the early 2000s raised fears of side effects, including breast and ovarian cancer. Many are instead are left to deal with the symptoms unaided – or put on antidepressants, which come with their own problems, or unproven herbal remedies such as black cohosh or red clover.

The new treatment approaches the problem in a different way to HRT, therefore avoiding the side effects that women are worried about. MLE4901 works by blocking a receptor in the brain linked to hot flushes. This means it only works for the one symptom – rather than the broad approach of HRT – but because hot flushing is the most common symptom of the menopause experts say it could benefit many women.

For day to day living and work, that’s a significant impact on quality of life. ‘If we can reduce flushing by 73 per cent it’s a game-changer for those patients

Professor Waljit Dhillo of Imperial College London

The trial on 28 menopausal women, each of whom were experiencing seven or more hot flushes a day, saw remarkable results. The drug, taken every day for four weeks, reduced the average number of flushes by nearly three quarters.

The team is now embarking on a much larger trial with many more women, but estimate it could be available in Britain within five years.

Professor Dhillo added: ‘A lot of women are choosing not to take HRT because it is oestrogen-based. This new drug is a pill which blocks the NK3 receptor, so it won’t have the side effects associated with oestrogen. These are exciting findings which could be practice-changing.’

Co-author Dr Julia Prague said: ‘For millions of women their menopausal symptoms are intolerable, so many are suffering in silence because it is a taboo subject and treatment options are limited. It was so exciting to see the lives of those who participated in the study become transformed when their flushes improved once taking the new drug. They could sleep through the night, and be less embarrassed in the daytime; they told me they felt “human again”.’

Elaine Barker, aged 61, one of the participants in the study, said: ‘I heard about this study and was interested in taking part. ‘I felt that if the study worked it would be of use to menopausal women now, and for future generations.

‘I was a sufferer still of daily and nightly hot flushes and anything that could improve the quality of my life would be worthwhile. When taking the tablets my flushes noticeably reduced and I woke less often at night and my quality of sleep improved.’

The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research – the research arm of the NHS – and the Medical Research Council.

Mary Ann Lumsden, senior vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: ‘Hot flushes are the most common symptom of the menopause in the western world; experienced by three out of four menopausal women, with 20 per cent severely affected.

‘This new study, which suggests the effectiveness of MLE4901 in reducing the frequency and severity of hot flushes, is welcome news for women going through the menopause and an exciting development for healthcare professionals. However, it is a small, short term trial, and much further research is needed.’

‘The most effective treatment to date has been HRT, however, evidence shows vitamin E supplements and some antidepressants may help ease hot flushes in some women. Women are also recommended to cut out coffee and tea, stop smoking, keep the room cool using a fan, spray their face with cold water, wear loose clothing, and cut down on alcohol.’

» At the Surrey Park Clinic we have years of experience treating the symptoms of menopause, bringing relief to many women. Find out more about menopause Treatment at the Surrey Park Clinic

Read the Daily Mail article

  Category: HRT & Menopause
  Comments: Comments Off on New alternative to HRT for menopausal women cuts hot flushes by 75%
  Other posts by

Physically Demanding Jobs And Night Shifts ‘Linked To Poor Fertility In Women’

By ,

Research found that a physically demanding job or work schedules outside of normal office hours may lower a woman’s ability to conceive.

It is the first study of its kind to measure whether workplace factors might affect a woman’s biological capacity to have a baby.

For the study, published in the journal ‘Occupational and Environmental Medicine’researchers looked at indicators of “ovarian reserve” in 473 women attending one fertility clinic.

The “reserve” refers to a woman’s number of remaining eggs and level of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which rises as a woman ages and represents dwindling fertility.

The average age of participants was 35 and they had an average BMI of 23. They were quizzed about the jobs they did, as well as the level of physical exertion required for their roles and the hours and patterns worked.

Researchers discovered that while type of workload did not seem to make any difference to FSH levels, women with physically demanding jobs had a lower reserve of eggs than those whose work did not regularly require heavy lifting.

Among women going through IVF, those with physically demanding jobs had a lower total reserve of eggs and fewer mature eggs – representing reductions of nearly 9% and nearly 14.5%, respectively – when compared with those who didn’t do heavy lifting.

For women working evening, night or rotating shifts, their reserves were found to follow a similar pattern.

These women had fewer mature eggs, on average, than those working shifts within normal working hours. The difference was even greater among those specifically working evening and night shifts, possibly because of disruption to the body clock, researchers suggested.

Women who were overweight (BMI of 25 and above) and whose job was physically demanding, also had fewer mature eggs.

“These findings have clinical implications,” wrote the researchers. “As women with fewer mature oocytes [eggs] would have fewer eggs which are capable of developing into healthy embryos.”

They added that the results “suggest that occupational factors may be more specifically affecting oocyte production and quality, rather than accelerating ovarian ageing”.

Professor Geeta Nargund, medical director of Create Fertility, branded the findings as “very interesting”.

“It is well known that sleep disturbance can have negative impact on hormonal rhythms and metabolism, particularly with melatonin and cortisol levels,” she told The Huffington Post UK.

“An interaction between melatonin and follicle stimulating hormone has been previously reported.

“We need further large studies to confirm these findings before we can advise women if their night shifts have a potential negative impact on their egg quality and IVF outcome.”

» Find out more about Fertility Treatment at the Surrey Park Clinic

Read the Huffington Post article

  Category: Infertility
  Comments: Comments Off on Physically Demanding Jobs And Night Shifts ‘Linked To Poor Fertility In Women’
  Other posts by

Carol Vorderman opens up about the menopause and depression

By ,

The 56-year-old credits her two children as being the only reason she managed to come out the other side, after feeling suicidal with her symptoms.

The much-loved veteran presenter opened up about her battle with depression in a frank and tearful interview with Lorraine Kelly.

Speaking about her six-month battle in 2015, she revealed it was brought on by an imbalance in her hormones as a result of suffering the menopause.

She explained: ‘I didn’t have any other symptoms that a lot of my friends have had with the menopause – I was just getting on with it and powering on, and then this depression hit me, and I don’t use the word depression lightly.

‘This was a blackness where I would wake up – nothing else in my life was going wrong – I’m a very lucky woman, no money worries or nothing like that – and I would wake up and I thought, “I don’t see the point in carrying on. I just don’t see the point in life. I don’t see it.”

‘I thought I just want this feeling to stop, I’d do anything for this feeling to stop because I can’t sort it. And this went on for a number of months.

Lorraine then asked Carol what she thinks would have happened if she hadn’t managed to get help and seek treatment and Carol responded: ‘I suspect we wouldn’t be talking today.’

Admitting that even though life was good she still couldn’t shake the feeling, so much so that she considered ending her life, she added: ‘There was no reason to feel that way and the only reason I didn’t do anything, and I’ve not admitted it before, is because I have two children.’

However, after reading books and eating healthily, fortunately the former Countdown host realised that her low moods came in cycles and was able to see a professor that deals with bio-identical hormones and since she’s been taking her treatment for over a year she’s ‘never ever felt that way.’

Carol, who recently revealed that her mum is suffering from terminal cancer, added: ‘From the moment I took it [the medication] I have never ever felt that way [depressed].

‘I’ve been fed up, and obviously at the moment my mum is not well so I’m upset. But there is a reason for all of those things whereas before there was no reason for it and it was absolutely, categorically to do with hormones.’

» At the Surrey Park Clinic we have years of experience treating the symptoms of menopause, bringing relief to many women. Find out more about menopause Treatment at the Surrey Park Clinic

Read the Metro article here

  Category: HRT & Menopause
  Comments: Comments Off on Carol Vorderman opens up about the menopause and depression
  Other posts by

Testosterone on NHS ‘could help boost women’s libido’

By ,

Nick Panay, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told a GPs’ conference that it could also improve women’s energy and mood.

But he said there were no licensed testosterone products for women, who need much lower doses then men.

Around one in three women is affected by the condition at some stage in their lives.

Mr Panay, consultant gynaecologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said there was a need to tell women about the potential benefits of testosterone.

He told the Royal College of GPs’ conference in Harrogate: “We’re not saying that female androgen replacement is a universal panacea.

“We’re not saying it is a female Viagra. Women are, after all, much more complex creatures than men (and do not respond) to the on/off button that Viagra offers.

“But I think that it should be part of the counselling process.”

Marathon woman

He said he believed testosterone should be made available to all women who could benefit. Loss of libido affects 15% of menopausal women.

The medical term for the condition is hypoactive sexual desire disorder, which can also be caused by medical or mental health problems, hormonal factors and relationship issues.

He said patients who had taken testosterone had reported huge increases in their mood, energy, muscle strength and stamina.

Mr Panay said: “They go from feeling drained to being able to run marathons again.”

Since there are no licensed products available for women, he had to prescribe it “off-label” which he found “frustrating”.

All licensed testosterone medications are designed for men and have to be measured down for women, he said.

Natural hormone

Dr Channa Jayasena, a clinical senior lecturer in endocrinology at Imperial College London, said testosterone can be given to women in much lower doses than men.

He said: “It’s mainly given in a patch. Women have both sex hormones – oestrogen but also testosterone – made by their adrenal glands and also the ovaries.

“It is a natural hormone but less is known about its effects.”

Last year, GPs wrote more than 370,000 prescriptions for testosterone, which costs the NHS £21.3m annually.

» Find out more about Individual hormone management for hormonal imbalance at the Surrey Park Clinic

  Category: Testosterone
  Comments: Comments Off on Testosterone on NHS ‘could help boost women’s libido’
  Other posts by

Cervical screening ‘could save hundreds more lives’

By ,

The lives of hundreds more cervical cancer patients could be saved if all those eligible went for screening, says a study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Nearly 2,000 women’s lives are saved as a result of cervical cancer screening in England each year, the report found.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London said the biggest impact of screening was among women aged 50-64. Around 800 women die from cervical cancer in England each year.

Cervical cancer screening is offered to women in the UK aged between 25 and 64. Between 25 and 49, women are invited for screening every three years, and up to the age of 64, every five years.

Screening involves a smear test which searches the entrance of the womb for abnormal cells. This gives doctors a chance to remove tissue that might become cancerous.

11,000 records

The research team analysed the records of more than 11,000 women in England who had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. The researchers found that 350 extra lives could be saved if all women aged between 25 and 64 were screened regularly. And if there was no screening among 50 to 64-year-olds, five times more women would die from cervical cancer.

Prof Peter Sasieni, lead researcher based at Queen Mary University of London, said many women were alive and healthy thanks to the screening programme.

“The cervical screening programme already prevents thousands of cancers each year and as it continues to improve, by testing all samples for the human papilloma virus (HPV), even more women are likely to avoid this disease.”

Dr Claire Knight, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, recommended that women take up the offer to attend cervical screening when invited.

“It’s important to remember that cervical screening is for women without symptoms.

“Women who have any unusual or persistent bleeding, pain, or change in vaginal discharge – even if they’ve been screened recently and whatever their age – should get it checked out by their GP.”


At the Surrey Park Clinic we offer a private cervical screening service at your convenience. Find out more


Read BBC article

  Category: Screening
  Comments: Comments Off on Cervical screening ‘could save hundreds more lives’
  Other posts by

Is reflexology the new cure for infertility?

By ,

An increasing number of women claim this popular type of foot massage has helped them conceive. Now a medical study has been launched to discover if the claims are true.

Reflexology, a traditional healing art dating from the ancient Egyptians and Chinese, involves manipulation of pressure points in the hands and feet and is often used to ease period pain, headaches, sinus and back problems as well as the effects of chemotherapy.

Practitioners claim the soles of the feet are like a mini map of the inside of the body and are linked to our inner organs and systems, including the fallopian tubes and ovaries. By massaging different points on the feet therapists claim they can unblock energy pathways in the body and so help the body to regain its natural balance and heal itself.

Some points on the foot are associated with a woman’s egg production and by manipulating these areas reflexologists claim they can correct the imbalances which can hamper pregnancy.

The latest research, a two year clinical trial at the IVF unit at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth,

is the brainchild of reflexologist Jane Holt. She approached the unit after 13 of the 23 women she treated with a range of fertility problems fell pregnant last year.

Beccy Wellington, 34, an auxiliary nurse, from Kingsbridge, in Devon, is convinced that her trip to see Jane in November 1999 resulted in the birth of her son Luke, who is now five months old.

‘We had been trying for a baby for just over a year and had begun to look at other ways that would help me conceive when someone recommended reflexology,’ she said.

‘I had four treatments and was pregnant within three weeks. I am convinced that the reflexology got my body in working order so I was ready to conceive. I also felt ten times better, more positive and a lot happier in myself.’

‘I went in there with an open mind, but was totally shocked to find myself pregnant so soon,’ she said. ‘I would definitely advise other women to try reflexology. It may not work for everyone, but it worked for me and it is worth trying.’

Jane Holt, a reflexologist for 12 years, claims one woman she helped had been trying to get pregnant for 20 years.

‘Infertility is a complex problem and I think that often what is needed is something that gives the system a bit of a kick start and that’s what reflexology can do,’ she said.

‘At least this gives women the option to try something else while they are going through hospital procedures and even if it works for some of them that’s a bonus.’

Cathy Shipton, who plays nurse Duffy in the BBC TV series Casualty, is also convinced that reflexology on the set of the show in Bristol helped her to become pregnant.

She had been trying to have a baby for four years, but four months after having twice weekly reflexology sessions she became pregnant.

In the new study, 150 volunteers will be offered reflexology rather than the fertility drug clomifene, which is usually used to induce ovulation. This drug works in about 70 per cent of patients, but the drug’s main drawback is it can increase the likelihood of a multiple pregnancy.

The volunteers will each receive eight treatments over a two to three month period. In order for the trial to be conducted in a scientific way, patients and hospital staff will not know whether true reflexology or a ‘dummy’ version has been given. Only the reflexologist will know who has had the real treatment.

One in seven couples suffers with infertility. Last year the Plymouth IVF unit saw over 900 patients. Thirty per cent of these were not producing eggs.

The hospital has already pioneered the use of acupuncture – the insertion of fine needles into the body to unblock energy channels – in pregnancy and routinely offers it to women who might benefit.

Dr Jonathan Lord, clinical lecturer in reproductive medicine at the hospital, is co-ordinating the new trial.

‘At the moment there is no evidence to say whether reflexology works or not,’ he said. ‘Although there are several reports of patients in whom it has worked, this is not sufficient evidence to enable it to be routinely recommended.’

by ANDREA PERRY, Mail Online

Find out more about Reflexology for infertility at The Surrey Park Clinic

  Category: Infertility
  Comments: Comments Off on Is reflexology the new cure for infertility?
  Other posts by

Should YOU be using testosterone gel? Experts reveal how to avoid the ‘male menopause’

By ,

Peter O’Brien can’t quite remember exactly when he began treatment for his low testosterone.

‘About five months ago,’ he says, waiting for the kettle to boil in the kitchen of his home just outside Bath.

His wife Lucy, however, can tell you precisely when it was. ‘It was February 16,’ she chips in, and they laugh.

She knows for certain because within three days of starting to apply testosterone gel to his skin, her 52-year-old husband, who hadn’t been himself for two years, suddenly rediscovered his interest in sex.

He’s not the only one.

A group of 65-year-old men experienced similar effects when they were given testosterone gel during a year-long study published last month in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

As well as improved libido, the men reported having more frequent sex and night-time erections compared with those who were given a placebo gel.

It’s the kind of research that has men of a certain age asking themselves whether they should be having the treatment, too.

In fact, an improved sex life isn’t the only benefit of restoring testosterone — men with low levels can suffer a range of symptoms, including night sweats, joint pain, muscle loss, irritability, loss of memory and even depression.

Put simply, testosterone deficiency can make a man’s life as much of a misery as the menopause does for many women.

Fortunately, the solution is simple — a daily dose of testosterone, usually administered as a gel rubbed into the skin on the shoulders (where others are unlikely to come into contact with it).

Unfortunately, the medical profession is bitterly divided over who needs it.

The mainstream view is that only a small number of men with specific medical problems really need testosterone treatment — the remainder need to address their lifestyles.

But leading exponents of testosterone treatment say hundreds of thousands of men whose lives could be improved virtually overnight are being left to battle alone.

Even if a man is referred by his GP to a hospital endocrinologist for suspected testosterone deficiency, they say, he is very unlikely to find a sympathetic ear and so many are forced to go private.


There is no doubt that low testosterone can and does cause multiple problems — the sticking point is how low your testosterone needs to go in order to be treated.

The conventional approach is that only men with a specific medical problem, such as late-onset hypogonadism (LOH), need treatment.

According to the Society for Endocrinology, the organisation that represents hormone specialists, the number of men in the UK affected by LOH ‘is small’, around 2.1 per cent of men aged 40 or over.

The official NHS position echoes this — while acknowledging that a testosterone deficiency ‘can sometimes’ be responsible for symptoms such as loss of libido, mood swings, loss of muscle mass and energy, the NHS says this is actually a rare medical problem.

Furthermore, this kind of testosterone deficiency is certainly not a normal part of ageing (unlike the female menopause).

According to the NHS, while all men do suffer a small reduction in testosterone — less than 2 per cent a year from around the age of 30 to 40 — ‘this is unlikely to cause any problems in itself’.

Far more likely to be responsible for any symptoms, it says, are ‘lifestyle factors’, such as bad diet and lack of exercise — along with ‘psychological problems’, such as the ‘male midlife crisis’.

From this perspective, the so-called male menopause is nothing more than a great marketing tool.

One leading endocrinologist Good Health spoke to went even further.

‘The so-called male menopause doesn’t exist,’ says Richard Quinton, a consultant endocrinologist at Newcastle Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust and a spokesperson for the Society for Endocrinology, the branch of medicine that specialises in hormone imbalances.

‘It’s all commercially driven snake oil.’
But Peter would disagree. The owner of a successful software development company, he had retired early and was looking forward to spending time with his wife but shortly after turning 50 says he began to feel ‘something was wrong’.

It wasn’t, he insists, a reaction to hitting the big five-oh.

‘I really didn’t care about that. But I felt like I was about 70 — run-down, no energy and people who hadn’t seen me for a while said I suddenly looked older.’

He began to worry something was seriously wrong. After a series of blood tests, his doctor told him he was fine, but there was one thing that hadn’t been measured — his testosterone.

Peter had read about testosterone deficiency and asked his doctor whether that could be his problem — ‘but I got the impression he didn’t really want to get involved with that’.

Peter insisted and his testosterone level was measured and he was referred to an NHS endocrinologist.

‘I was told my levels were very low, but that was normal and I should just carry on. But I felt far from normal.’

Frustrated, he went to a private clinic where he was prescribed a daily dose of testosterone. ‘I quickly got my life back,’ he says.



But while Peter is more than happy to tell his story, it was on condition of anonymity. Peter is not his real name.

Like the other men having testosterone treatment who spoke to Good Health, he refused to go public and that, says Dr Clive Morrison, a doctor at the clinic where Peter was treated, is part of the problem preventing many more men benefiting from testosterone.

‘There is no stigma among women about the need for hormone replacement therapy, and consequently the vast majority who need it, get it,’ says Dr Morrison, who works with the Centre for Men’s Health.

‘Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be true for men. Many appear to think there is something almost shameful about even the slightest suggestion that they might benefit from similar treatment, from a similar age, to help correct a similar hormonal deficiency.’

Men ‘are particularly reticent about admitting that their sex drive and bedroom performance might have been compromised’, he says.

As a result, ‘very few of those who need it and could benefit greatly from it actually seek out testosterone therapy, and those who do rarely talk about it, perpetuating the stigma and leading to a significant degree of unnecessary suffering amongst middle-aged and older men’.

As well as stigma, another barrier to hormone treatment for men is whether symptoms alone rather than blood test results are enough.

One of those championing the cause of testosterone treatment is Dr Malcolm Carruthers, who originally trained as a GP and later founded the Centre for Men’s Health.

Dr Carruthers, who freely admits he has ‘wildly diverged’ from the mainstream view for the past 30 years, says that thousands of men in the UK over 50 could benefit from testosterone treatment, but that only 1 per cent of them are getting it.



As evidence, he cites his own clinical experience and research published in a series of papers in the journal The Ageing Male, by Lothar Heinemann, a doctor at the Berlin Centre for Epidemiology and Health Research.

Research by Dr Heinemann and colleagues concluded that in most European countries, as well as Australia, Russia and Japan, 20 per cent of men over 50 could be rated as deficient in testosterone on the basis of their symptoms alone.

Dr Carruthers and others believe that there is over-reliance on blood tests to diagnose low testosterone.

He says the blood tests are so imprecise and the definition of a ‘normal’ level so wide as to be almost meaningless, and that a man’s symptoms alone can usually tell the whole story.

This approach appears to have been vindicated by a paper Dr Carruthers published last year and which was co-authored by researchers at the urology department of University College Hospital, London, and the Alzheimer’s and Ageing Department at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia.

The study reported the long-term effects of testosterone therapy on 2,200 men (average age 54) treated at Dr Carruthers’s centre since 1989 and concluded that it was effective and safe.

Significantly many of the men in the study had suffered for between three and five years with symptoms including loss of libido and energy, erectile dysfunction, night sweats, joint pains, depression and irritability, but had been denied treatment by their doctors because blood tests had shown their testosterone levels to be ‘in the “normal” range’.

Another advocate of testosterone treatment is Dr Erika Schwartz, a U.S. doctor and author of the best-selling book The Hormone Solution. She argues that men ‘need help with hormones just as much as women do’.

‘The male menopause has never been in the spotlight because men who experience it have been reluctant to acknowledge its existence [and] the medical profession has not been keen to address this obvious similarity to female menopause’.

She told Good Health: ‘Almost every day I see 60-year-olds who tell me testosterone therapy is magical and they’ve got their lives back.’

Her own husband, Ken Chandler, now in his mid-60s and an executive editor of a U.S. news website, has testosterone treatment.

‘It has made me livelier. I think I look better than I did at 50 and I have much more energy and focus. And it’s certainly improved my sex drive,’ he told Good Health.


The tragedy, says Dr Schwartz, is that the solution is so easy — a daily dose of testosterone — but ‘unfortunately men have certain ego issues and they see male menopause as a failure instead of another stage in life’.

‘All you have to do is look at most men in their 50s and 60s, and how they look will tell you where they stand hormonally: they are overweight, their eyes are no longer shining, they’re not interested or interesting, they are boring and depressed and they have flab not muscle.’

All this, she says, is too readily dismissed by many in the medical profession as ‘just part of the ageing process — but what if they’re wrong and you can do something about it, and the solution is having your hormones balanced and taking care of yourself?’

That view is heresy to mainstream medics.

And yet things do seem to be changing. The latest figures for NHS prescriptions dispensed in England showed there were over 201,000 issued for testosterone in 2015, up more than 200 per cent from the 65,000 ten years earlier.

So it seems some men are being helped.

But this increasing use of hormone therapy has been condemned as ‘an epidemic of testosterone prescribing’ in a paper co-authored by Richard Quinton and published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology in 2013.

‘Many men in the UK might be receiving testosterone replacement therapy with neither clearly established indications, nor robustly diagnosed hypogonadism,’ it said. In other words, some men receiving the treatment should not be.

They laid the blame primarily at the door of an increase in online advertising by U.S. pharmaceutical companies designed to create the impression that testosterone deficiency is common in older men.

It would not, Dr Quinton told Good Health, be unreasonable for a man with symptoms suggestive of testosterone deficiency to ask his GP for a blood test.

But he insists: ‘Only 2 per cent of older men actually have something that is similar to a menopause, where their testes begin to function less efficiently and they produce less testosterone and less sperm.

I say “similar to” because in the menopause the ovaries just shut down completely and produce no hormones, whereas in these men the testes begin to function less efficiently.’

With medical opinion so widely divided, men could be forgiven for being confused about what to do for the best.

Two years ago, reseachers at 12 centres across the U.S, funded by the National Institutes of Health, set out to settle the question once and for all, with a series of seven studies on testosterone treatment in older men, known as the Testosterone Trials.

The study published last month looking at the 65-year-olds’ libido was one of the seven.

By Jonathan Gornall For The Daily Mail

  Category: HRT & Menopause, Male Matters
  Comments: Comments Off on Should YOU be using testosterone gel? Experts reveal how to avoid the ‘male menopause’
  Other posts by

Ovarian cancer test on horizon as scientists find earliest signs of disease

By ,

Cancer of the ovaries is the fifth most common cancer for women in the UK, with about 7100 new cases each year but it is difficult to diagnose because it grows virtually unseen into the abdominal cavity.

Now a new study has found that levels of a protein called SOX2 are much higher in the fallopian tubes of women with ovarian cancer and those genetically predisposed to the disease.

The breakthrough could lead to early screening for the disease in a similar way to a cervical smear test.

Professor Ahmed Ahmed, from the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University, said: ‘Ovarian cancer can be undetectable for up to four years and only a third of people with the cancer get an early diagnosis.

“A test for SOX2 could not only help detect cancers early but in some cases would enable us to detect a tumour before it becomes cancerous.

“Early treatment hugely improves the odds for patients, so early detection is essential. However, there is still a lot of work to be done because detecting SOX2 in the fallopian tubes is not an easy task.

“We are hoping that a test that is based on this discovery would detect the tumour at the pre-cancer state. A bit similar to what the cervical smear test does.”

The team identified an enzyme that enables ovarian cancer to spread and are hoping that it could be targeted with drugs.

Katherine Taylor, Chief Executive at research charity Ovarian Cancer Action, one of the study’s funders, said: “We need to save the lives of more women by making ovarian cancer treatment more effective.

“There has been little progress in ovarian cancer treatment in the past 30 years so these findings are promising, and have provided two areas of focus for scientists working on ovarian cancer.

“Early detection and effective treatment are vital, and these discoveries will hopefully being us closer to both.”

By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor – The Telegraph

  Category: Screening
  Comments: Comments Off on Ovarian cancer test on horizon as scientists find earliest signs of disease
  Other posts by