Unlike menopause, the subject of numerous sociological studies and medical recommendations, andropause remains a blind spot in these fields. Except two recent shows on France Culture, it is necessary to dig to unearth studies – dated – on the effects of this physiological and social phenomenon which nevertheless affects many men as they age: the progressive alteration of the production of testosterone – the key hormone of desire and mood.
An invisibility that strikes the few French researchers who have taken an interest in it, themselves faced with the difficulty of investigating. “In the representations, the female sex remains the pathological sex in essence and the idea that the male body could be confronted with sexual and reproductive dysfunctions was not thought of until the middle of the 20th century.e century “, traces Virginie Vinel, sociologist working on issues of gender and age in life.
It is therefore not surprising that the term emerges more than a century after that of “menopause”: in France in a textbook of psychiatry in 1952, then in Le Grand Robert in 1980. As for andrology, the medicine of disorders male sex, it was born in the 1960s and struggled to establish itself as a specialty in its own right, offered as additional education during the boarding school and little chosen – a recent reform could however change the situation. “Only some 150 urologists exercise it regularly, ten exclusively”, according to urologist and andrologist Antoine Faix. To which are added rare gynecologists who have been trained there and sexologists, despite the lack of a state diploma.
Slow and timid appropriation
“For lack of men to dare to complain about it, of medical and institutional networks supporting it, of researchers looking into it, difficult to establish a medical category “, summarizes the sociologist Louis Braverman, working on masculinity and aging. He has counted “Seven defended theses titled on andropause since 1988, against 404 for menopause”. Same disproportion in popularization and specialized sites.
However, let us cite the literature. In Beyond this limit your ticket is no longer valid, Romain Gary tackles, in 1975, the taboo of sexual decline with crude words, citing “andropause”, a term that Philippe De Jonckheere will use 69 times in Sexual intercourse no longer exists in 2021 (Inculte, 276 pages, 18.90 euros); as well as some novels by Philip Roth or others dealing with prostate cancer such as Ablation, by Tahar Ben Jelloun (Gallimard, 2014).
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