Radio: Manopause – a study in determining the boundaries of health and illness

Listen via BBC iPlayer to Woman’s Hour (08/04/11) and a segment on the increasingly recognised diagnostic category of Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome:

“This week the new Centre for Men’s Health Clinic in Manchester sees its first patients coming through its doors. The clinic, which is run by Dr Malcolm Carruthers specialises in the treatment of what has been called the male menopause – or the ‘Manopause’ – the symptoms of which include irritability, depression, loss of drive and sexual problems. Dr Carruthers says that these problems can be caused by Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome – low testosterone, or by the body’s resistance to testosterone. He says the condition is massively under diagnosed and that it can be treated by regular doses of testosterone. But he admits that not all experts in the field agree with him, and no long-term independent studies of the treatment have been carried out. Jenni is joined by Dr Caruthers and Professor Mike Kirby (Visiting Professor to the University of Hertfordshire and the Prostate Centre) to discuss Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome and its possible treatment.”

Further commentary on the philosophical issues raised, such as whether the male menopause is “real” is available here and here. Could something be a disorder if it is normal within the relevant reference class (see Kingma, 2007), as a drop in testosterone levels is for men in middle age? What implications does this have for the grounds that are used to draw the boundaries of health and illness? Is drug therapy of this kind treatment or enhancement? What are the resource allocation implications, such as whether such therapies should be funded by the NHS?

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