The percentage of Shanghai men showing signs of early ageing has doubled over the past two decades, a local survey claimed.
Symptoms of the "male menopause," which includes weariness, bad moods, vesicular diseases and deteriorating sexual ability, trouble 20 per cent of Shanghai men under the age of 45.
This compares to about 10 per cent complaining of these problems in the early 1980s, according to the survey by the andrologic centre of Shanghai's Renji Hospital.
"To healthy men, such problems should usually arise after 50 and some may never suffer clear symptoms of the 'menopause,'" said Li Zheng, director of the centre who also heads the city's sperm bank.
Unhealthy lifestyles, emotional stress and environmental pollution are to blame for the problems, according to Li.
"The situation is going to get worse if people remain unaware of it," he said, adding that some of his patients are younger than 35.
The survey, funded by the municipal government's committee of science and technology, was conducted between last June and December, and was based on 620 cases in Renji and several other hospitals, as well as investigations in several city neighbourhoods.
Besides early ageing, Li said some 20 per cent of men suffered various andrologic diseases - diseases relating to men, particularly the reproductive organs. And patients are getting more and younger.
"Some 1,360 people came to the sperm bank for physical checks last year and only 79 were found to be fully qualified to donate sperm," Li told China Daily.
The Shanghai sperm bank, one of only four sperm banks in China, has managed to collect just 6,000 samples in the past two years, far less than the needs of the city, which is trying to reverse more than a decade of slowing population growth.
Outside Shanghai, the situation of male health does not look better.
In a joint survey by hospitals in Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing last year among over 1,000 men suffering erectile dysfunction (ED), those under 40 accounted for 47.5 per cent.
Many of the surveyed ED patients also have other problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart diseases.
These ED patients wait for an average of 22 months before they see the doctor, according to the survey.
"Many people's understanding of male health remains scant and in many ways wrong," said Jiang Hui, director of the andrologic centre of Peking University People's Hospital, which organized the survey.
Many men only care about physical problems, but are careless with their psychological health, or shy away from seeking andrologic medical care.
Some just carry on indulging in smoking, alcohol and other bad habits, said Jiang.
Many patients also have to go to illegal clinics, as few hospitals in the country have andrologic departments, he added.
In Shanghai, andrologic experts opened a male health club last October, aiming to cultivate the idea of male health in the booming city.
Despite a shortage of money, the club manages to hold a free lecture every month and has so far attracted more than 1,000 members, mostly middle-age and elderly men.