Medicine Studies

, 1:249 | Cite as

Rejuvenation’s Return: Anti-aging and Re-masculinization in Biomedical Discourse on the ‘Aging Male’

Original Paper


Since the late 1990s, a constellation of professional associations, journals and health promotion materials has emerged that has constructed the ‘aging male’ as a medical problem. Central to this construction has been a revival of a hormonal model of the male body in which anti-aging is linked to the restoration of masculinity. In this paper I revisit the association of aging and demasculinization that animated the rejuvenation movement of the early 20th century, and contrast this with the initial mainstream medical interest in testosterone therapy in the mid-20th century. Then I will demonstrate how the association between anti-aging and re-masculinization has been given new life in the remedicalized ‘andropause’, and as a contemporary focus on maintaining life-long virility has emerged as an important indicator of ‘health aging’.


Masculinity Aging Sexuality Testosterone Andropause Climacteric Rejuvenation 


  1. Anonymous. 1923. Medicine: Voronoff and Steinach. Time, Monday July 30.,9171,727231,00.html. Last accessed 31 July 2009.
  2. Atherton, G. 1923. Black oxen. New York: Boni and Liveright.Google Scholar
  3. Bauer, J. 1944. The male climacteric: A misnomer. Journal of the American Medical Association 126: 914.Google Scholar
  4. Benjamin, H. 1929. The reactivation of women. In Third congress of the world league for sexual reform, ed. N. Haire, 564–573. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co. Ltd.Google Scholar
  5. Benjamin, H. 1946. A contribution to the endocrine aspect of the impotence problem: A report of thirty-nine cases. The Urologic and Cutaneous Review 50: 139–143.Google Scholar
  6. Boggs, T. 2002. Male mid-life changes can lower libido: More than one million Canadian men are andropausal Toronto Star, Toronto, p. R5.Google Scholar
  7. Borrell, M. 1985. Organotherapy and the emergence of reproductive endocrinology. Journal of the History of Biology 18 (1): 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Calasanti, T., and N. King. 2005. Firming the floppy penis: Age, class and gender relations in the lives of old men. Men and Masculinities 8 (1): 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Canadian Society for the Study of the Aging Male. 2007. Failure to treat sexual dysfunction can pose a serious risk for aging males (press release, February 5, 2007).Google Scholar
  10. Canadian Urological Society. n.d. Male hormone supplementation in the aging male. Last accessed 31 July 2009.
  11. Caprio, F. 1952. The sexually adequate male. NY: Citadel.Google Scholar
  12. Charlton, R. 2004. Ageing male syndrome: Andropause, androgen decline or mid-life crisis. Journal of Men’s Health and Gender 1 (1): 55–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clarke, A.E. 1998. Disciplining reproduction: Modernity, American life sciences and “the problems of sex”. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  14. Corona, G., G. Forti, and M. Maggi. 2008. Why can patients with erectile dysfunction be considered lucky? The association with testosterone deficiency and metabolic syndrome. The Aging Male 11 (4): 193–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cussons, A., C.I. Bhagat, S.J. Fletcher, and J.P. Walsh. 2002. Brown-Sequard revisited: A lesson from history on the placebo effect of androgen treatment. Medical Journal of Australia 177 (2): 678–679.Google Scholar
  16. de Kruif, P. 1945. The male hormone. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.Google Scholar
  17. Douglas, R.J. 1941. The male climacteric: Its diagnosis and treatment. Journal of Urology 45: 404.Google Scholar
  18. Drake, E.F.A. 1902. What a woman of forty-five ought to know. Philadelphia: Vir Publishing.Google Scholar
  19. Dunn, C. 1945. Discussion of August Werner’s “The male climacteric: Report of fifty-four cases”. Journal of the American Medical Association 127: 710.Google Scholar
  20. Dunsmuir, W.D. 1999. Male sexual dysfunction: The male menopause. In Men’s health, ed. R.S. Kirby, M.G. Kirby, and R.N. Farah. Oxford: Isis Medical Media.Google Scholar
  21. Estes, C., and E. Binney. 1989. The biomedicalization of aging. The Gerontologist 29: 587–596.Google Scholar
  22. Fausto-Sterling, A. 2000. Sexing the body: Gender politics and the construction of sexuality. Toronto: Harper Collins Canada.Google Scholar
  23. Featherstone, M., and M. Hepworth. 1985. The male menopause: Lifestyle and sexuality. Maturitas 7: 235–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fishbein, M. 1932. Fads and Quackery in healing. New York: Blue Ribbon Books.Google Scholar
  25. Foucault, M. 1978. The history of sexuality, vol. 1. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  26. Frith, M. 2003. Is the male menopause just a convenient myth? The Independent, London, p. 6.Google Scholar
  27. Gaudillière, J.-P. 2004. Genesis and development of a biomedical object: Styles of thought, styles of work and the history of the sex steroids. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biology and Biomedical Sciences 35 (3): 525–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Goldman, S.F., and M.J. Markham. 1942. Clinical use of testosterone in the male climacteric. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology 2: 237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gordon, M.L. 2008. The clinical application of interventional endocrinology. Phoenix Books.Google Scholar
  30. Gullette, M.M. 1998. Midlife discourses in the twentieth century United States: An essay on the sexuality, ideology, and politics of ‘middle-ageism’. In Welcome to middle age! (and other cultural fictions), ed. R. Shweder, 3–44. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  31. Halford, S.H. 1831 [1813]. On the climacteric disease. In Essays and orations, ed. S.H. Halford, 2–14. London: John Murray.Google Scholar
  32. Hall, D.L. 1976. Biology, sex hormones and sexism in the 1920s. In Women and philosophy: Toward a theory of liberation, ed. M. Wartofsky and C. Gould, 81–96. New York: G.P. Putnam.Google Scholar
  33. Haller, J.S. 1989. Spermatic economy: A 19th century view of male impotence. Southern Medical Journal 82 (8): 1010–1016.Google Scholar
  34. Hamilton, D. 1986. The monkey gland affair. London: Chatto and Windus.Google Scholar
  35. 2009. Andropause: A turning point for men—Part 1. Last accessed 31 July 2009.
  36. Heller, C.G., and G.B. Myers. 1944. The male climacteric, its symptomatology, diagnosis and treatment. Journal of the American Medical Association 126: 472–477.Google Scholar
  37. Hepworth, M., and M. Featherstone. 1998. The male menopause: Lay accounts and the cultural reconstruction of midlife. In The body in everyday life, ed. S. Nettleton and J. Watson, 276–301. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Hirshbein, L. 2000. The glandular solution: Sex, masculinity and aging in the 1920’s. Journal of the History of Sexuality 93 (3): 277–304.Google Scholar
  39. Hoberman, J. 2005. Testosterone dreams: Rejuvenation, aphrodisia, doping. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  40. International Society for the Study of the Aging Male. 1999. Mission statement. The Aging Male 2: 6–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. International Society for the Study of the Aging Male. 2009. About ISSAM. Last accessed 31 July 2009.
  42. Isidori, A.M., E. Giannetta, D. Gianfrilli, E.A. Greco, V. Bonifacio, A. Aversa, A. Isidori, A. Fabbri, and A. Lenzi. 2005. Effects of testosterone on sexual function in men: Results of a meta-analysis. Clinical Endocrinology 63: 381–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1942. Editorial: Climacteric in aging men. Journal of the American Medical Association 118: 458–460.Google Scholar
  44. Kammerer, P. 1924. Rejuvenation and the prolongation of human efficiency. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  45. Katz, S. 2001/2002. Growing older without aging? Positive aging, anti-ageism, and anti-aging. Generations 25 (4): 27–32.Google Scholar
  46. Katz, S., and B.L. Marshall. 2003. New sex for old: Lifestyle, consumerism and the ethics of aging well. Journal of Aging Studies 17 (1): 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Katz, S., and B.L. Marshall. 2004. Is the functional ‘normal’? Aging, sexuality and the biomarking of successful living. History of the Human Sciences 17 (1): 53–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kirby, M. 2004. Erectile dysfunction: A model for men’s health. Journal of Men’s Health and Gender 1 (2–3): 255–258.Google Scholar
  49. Landau, R.L. 1951. The concept of the male climacteric. Medical Clinics of North America 35: 279–288.Google Scholar
  50. Lespinasse, V. 1946. Discussion of August Werner’s “The male climacteric: Report of two hundred and seventy-three cases”. Journal of the American Medical Association 132: 194.Google Scholar
  51. Liverman, C.T., and D.G. Blazer. 2004. Testosterone and aging: Clinical research directions, institute of medicine. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  52. Loe, M. 2004. The rise of viagra: How the little blue pill changed sex in America. New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar
  53. Lunenfeld, B. 1999. Hormone replacement therapy in the aging male. The Aging Male 2: 1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Lunenfeld, B., F. Saad, and C.E. Hoesl. 2005. ISA, ISSAM and EAU recommendations for the investigation, treatment and monitoring of late-onset hypogonadism in males: Scientific background and rationale. The Aging Male 8 (2): 59–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. MacIndoe, J.H. 2003. The challenges of testosterone deficiency. Postgraduate Medicine 114 (4): 51–62.Google Scholar
  56. Mamo, L., and J. Fishman. 2001. Potency in all the right places: Viagra as a technology of the gendered body. Body and Society 7 (4): 13–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Maranon, G. 1929. The climacteric (the critical age). London: Henry Kimpton.Google Scholar
  58. Marshall, B.L. 2002. ‘Hard science’: Gendered constructions of sexual dysfunction in the ‘viagra age’. Sexualities 5 (2): 131–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Marshall, B.L. 2006. The new virility: Viagra, male aging and sexual function. Sexualities 9 (3): 345–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Marshall, B.L. 2007. Climacteric redux? (Re)Medicalizing the male menopause. Men and Masculinities 9 (4): 509–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Marshall, B.L. Forthcoming. Science, medicine and virility surveillance: “sexy seniors” in the pharmaceutical imagination. Sociology of Health and Illness.Google Scholar
  62. Marshall, B.L., and S. Katz. 2002. ‘Forever functional’: Sexual fitness and the aging male body. Body and Society 8 (4): 43–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Marshall, B.L., and S. Katz. 2006. From androgyny to androgens: Re-sexing the aging body. In Age matters, ed. T. Calasanti, and K. Slevin, 75–98. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  64. McLaren, A. 2007. Impotence: A cultural history. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  65. Meryn, S. 2006. Why a theme issue on sexual health. Journal of Men’s Health and Gender 3 (4): 317–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Morales, A. 2008. The use of hormonal therapy in “andropause”: The pro side. Canadian Urological Association Journal 2 (1): 43–46.Google Scholar
  67. Morales, A., and B. Lunenfeld. 2002. Investigation, treatment and monitoring of late-onset hypogonadism in males: Official recommendations of ISSAM. The Aging Male 5: 74–86.Google Scholar
  68. Morgentaler, A. 2008. Testosterone for life: Recharge your vitality, sex drive, muscle mass and overall health. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  69. Morley, J.E. 2007. The politics of testosterone. Journal of Sexual Medicine 4: 554–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Nichols, T.L. 1873. Esoteric anthropology (the mysteries of man): A comprehensive and confidential treatise on the structure, functions, passional attractions and perversions, true and false physical and social conditions and the most intimate relations of men and women. Malvern.Google Scholar
  71. Nieschlag, E., R.S. Swerdloff, H. Behre, L.J. Gooren, J.M. Kaufman, J.-J. Legros, B. Lunenfeld, J.E. Morley, C. Schulman, C. Wang, W. Wiedner, and F.C.W. Wu. 2005. Investigation, treatment and monitoring of late-onset hypogonadism in males. The Aging Male 8 (2): 56–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Nusbaum, M.R.H., and C.D. Hamilton. 2002. The proactive sexual health history. American Family Physician 66 (9): 1705–1712.Google Scholar
  73. Oudshoorn, N. 1990. Endocrinologists and the conceptualization of sex, 1920–1940. Journal of the History of Biology 23 (2): 163–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Oudshoorn, N. 1994. Beyond the natural body: Towards an archaeology of sex hormones. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  75. Oudshoorn, N. 1997. Menopause, only for women? The social construction of menopause as an exclusively female condition. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology 18: 137–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Potts, A. 2000. The essence of the hard-on: Hegemonic masculinity and the cultural construction of erectile dysfunction. Men and Masculinities 3 (1): 85–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Rechter, J.E. 1997. “The Glands of Destiny”: A history of popular, medical and scientific views of the sex hormones in 1920s America. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  78. Rennie, T.A.C., S.A. Vest, and J.E. Howard. 1939. The use of testosterone propionate in impotence: Clinical studies with male sex hormones. Southern Medical Journal 32: 1004–1007.Google Scholar
  79. Roberts, C. 2007. Messengers of sex: Hormones, biomedicine and feminism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Rose, N. 2003. Neurochemical selves. Society 41 (1): 46–59.Google Scholar
  81. Rutherford, R.N., and J.J. Rutherford. 1965. The climacteric years in the woman, man and family. In Counselling in marital and sexual problems: A physician’s handbook, ed. R. Klemer, 220–230. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins Co.Google Scholar
  82. Schering Corporation Medical Research Division. 1941. Male sex hormone therapy: A clinical guide. Bloomfield, NJ: Schering Corporation Limited.Google Scholar
  83. Schmidt, P. 1929. Six hundred rejuvenation operations: A nine-year survey. In Third congress of the world league of sexual reform, ed. N. Haire, 574–581. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co. Ltd.Google Scholar
  84. Sengoopta, C. 2001. Transforming the testicle: Science, medicine and masculinity, 1800–1951. Medicina nei Secoli 13 (3): 637–655.Google Scholar
  85. Sengoopta, C. 2006. The most secret quintessence of life: Sex, glands and hormones, 1850–1950. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  86. Shabsigh, R. 2006. Sexual health is the portal to men’s health 5th world congress on the aging male. Austria: Salzburg.Google Scholar
  87. Shabsigh, R., S. Arver, K.S. Channer, I. Eardley, A. Fabbri, L.J. Gooren, A. Heufelder, H. Jones, S. Meryn, and M. Zitzmann. 2008. The triad of erectile dysfunction, hypogonadism and the metabolic syndrome. International Journal of Clinical Practice 2 (5): 791–798.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Spence, A.W. 1940. Testosterone propionate in functional impotence. British Medical Journal 2: 411–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Stall, S. 1901. What a man of forty-five ought to know. Philadelphia: VIR Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  90. Steinach, E., and J. Loebel. 1940. Sex and life. New York: Viking Press.Google Scholar
  91. Stolberg, M. 2007. From the ‘climacteric disease’ to the ‘male climacteric’: The historical origins of a modern concept. Maturitas 58: 111–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. T’Sjoen, G., S. Goemaere, M. De Meyere, and J.M. Kaufman. 2004. Perceptions of males’ aging symptoms, health and well-being in elderly community-dwelling men is not related to circulating androgen levels. Psychoneuroendocrinology 29: 201–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Tiefer, L. 1996. The medicalization of sexuality: Conceptual, normative and professional issues. Annual Review of Sex Research 7: 252–282.Google Scholar
  94. Tiefer, L. 2006. The viagra phenomenon. Sexualities 9 (3): 273–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Traish, A.M., I. Goldstein, and N.N. Kim. 2007. Testosterone and erectile function: From basic research to a new clinical paradigm for managing men with androgen insufficiency and erectile dysfunction. European Association of Urology 52: 54–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Travison, T.G., J.E. Morley, A.B. Araujo, A.B. O’Donnell, and J.B. McKinlay. 2006. The relationship between libido and testosterone levels in aging men. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 91 (7): 2509–2513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Tremblay, R.R., and A. Morales. 1998. Canadian practice recommendations for screening, monitoring and treating men affected by andropause or partial androgen deficiency. The Aging Male 1 (3): 213–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Van den Wijngaard, M. 1997. Reinventing the sexes: The biomedical construction of masculinity and femininity. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press.Google Scholar
  99. Vecki, V.G. 1920. Sexual impotence. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co.Google Scholar
  100. Voronoff, S. 1925. Rejuvenation by grafting. New York: Adelphi.Google Scholar
  101. Wang, C., E. Nieschlag, R.S. Swerdloff, H. Behre, W.J. Hellstrom, L.J. Gooren, J.M. Kaufman, J.-J. Legros, B. Lunenfeld, A. Morales, J.E. Morley, C. Schulman, I.M. Thompson, W. Weidner, and F.C.W. Wu. 2008. Investigation, treatment and monitoring of late-onset hypogonadism in males: ISA, ISSAM, EAU, EAA and ASA recommendations. European Journal of Endocrinology 159: 507–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Warthin, A.S. 1929. Old age: The major involution. New York: Paul B. Hoeber.Google Scholar
  103. Watkins, E.S. 2007. The medicalisation of male menopause in America. Social History of Medicine 20 (2): 369–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Watkins, E.S. 2008. Medicine, masculinity and the disappearance of the male menopause in the 1950s. Social History of Medicine 21 (2): 329–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. Werner, A. 1939. The male climacteric. Journal of the American Medical Association 112: 1441–1443.Google Scholar
  106. Werner, A. 1945. The male climacteric (including therapy with testosterone propionate): Fifty-four cases. Journal of the American Medical Association 127 (12): 705–710.Google Scholar
  107. Werner, A. 1946. The male climacteric: Report of two hundred and seventy-three cases. Journal of the American Medical Association 132: 188–194.Google Scholar
  108. Wilson, R.A. 1966. Feminine forever. New York: Evans.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada

Personalised recommendations