DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Is there such a thing as male menopause? I believe my husband has it. He is 59 and has become a grouch, sweats more than he used to and is quite tense all the time. His interest in sex is gone. – K.O.

ANSWER: Whether there is such a thing as male menopause – or andropause, as it is sometimes called – is a debatable subject. Men do not have an abrupt drop-off in their production of male hormone, as women at menopause do in their production of female hormone. However, with age, men do make less testosterone. Between the ages of 60 and 70, about 30 percent of men have low testosterone readings. In the 70 to 80 age bracket, the percentage rises to 70. The levels might not be subnormal, but they’re much less than they were at peak production.

If a man has a low hormone level and if he has symptoms suggestive that a lack of testosterone might be the cause, then restoring him to a higher blood level of testosterone is worth considering. Some of those suggestive symptoms are what you described. Muscle shrinkage, loss of bone density, weakness and fatigue are others. If you want to call this andropause, it’s OK by me.

Taking testosterone has consequences. It doesn’t produce cancer, but it accelerates the growth of prostate cancer if there are any cancerous cells in the gland. It enlarges the gland, which gives rise to difficulty in emptying the bladder, with interruptions of sleep due to trips to the bathroom.

There are many other conditions that can give a man the same kinds of symptoms, so those conditions have to be considered.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Does a condom prevent herpes spread? I am a sexually active woman with herpes. I have only a few outbreaks a year, and I abstain from sex when I do. I wonder if I should insist on my partner using a condom when we are intimate? – S.T.

ANSWER: Around 45 million Americans are infected with the genital herpes virus, but only about 10 percent realize they harbor the infection. Spread of the virus is possible even when there are no visible signs or symptoms. That’s why so many people are infected.

Condoms definitely lower the risk of spread. They don’t eliminate the risk, but few things in medicine work 100 percent of the time.

Yes, have your partner wear a condom to protect himself.

Herpes infection is epidemic. The herpes booklet tells the virus’ story and how it is treated. To obtain a copy, write: Dr. Donohue – No. 1202, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6.75 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: On June 26, 2001, you said a medicine called resiquimod might turn out to be the answer for genital herpes infections. I have not seen any follow-up on it. Has anything new about it turned up?

Is there a natural cure for herpes? On TV, I saw that there is an herb that will cure it for good. – D.R.

ANSWER: You must hold the record for holding on to a column the longest. I forgot that I wrote about resiquimod, but I looked it up and you are right.

In 2003, the resiquimod investigation was called off. The drug’s action was not as effective as it was believed it would be.

I don’t know any herb that can cure herpes. There are three drugs that can shorten an outbreak of herpes or can be taken to suppress outbreaks if they are frequent. They are the antiviral drugs Valtrex, Famvir and Zovirax.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Since “sleep begets sleep,” should I, as an 80-year-old man, resist the temptation to take daytime naps? – W.L.

ANSWER: If the naps aren’t long (less than half an hour) and if they don’t interfere with nighttime sleep, you can nap. Naps can be most refreshing.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: How do people know if they have the flu or a cold? The symptoms seem similar. – K.J.

ANSWER: You’ll know if you have the flu. It hits like a sledgehammer. It begins abruptly. You feel fine one minute, and the next you think a truck has run you over. The temperature can rise to as high as 104 F (40 C). Shaking chills often set in. Pounding headaches are common, as is muscle pain. It can hurt to move the eyes. People head for their beds and beg the world to leave them alone. Cough, sore throat and a running nose are also part of the symptom complex, but those symptoms are overshadowed by the other symptoms.

A cold’s onset is more gradual. You slowly begin to feel bad. A dripping nose, a scratchy or sore throat, and sneezing or coughing are the prominent symptoms. A high fever is not. Nor is muscle soreness. People don’t feel they have to go to bed.

Incidentally, flu does not cause stomach pain or diarrhea. “Stomach flu” is a misnomer. That kind of illness is caused by viruses not related to the influenza virus – the virus of flu.

If people haven’t yet gotten the flu shot, they should – especially older people, people with chronic illnesses or people whose immune system is not strong.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.