There is a growing body of evidence that although men don’t go through a menopause they experience hormonal changes that affect their health.
The idea of a male menopause is not new, but it has failed to gain weight with a large percentage of the medical profession or, indeed, women. They scoff that if there were such a thing, the middle-aged male population would take to its collective bed and not be seen for years.
But there is a body of growing evidence to back up the fact that, though men don’t exactly go through a menopause, they experience hormonal changes that affect their health. And it’s got a name: the andropause.
So is it really like a male menopause?
Experts suggest that it’s not as acute as the female menopause. Male hormone levels decrease slowly over a period of time, but it’s a slow decline. Unlike women, where hormone production stops, men still produce hormones, but at much lower levels All the same, it affects them very strongly. We joke about the male midlife crisis but this is a sign of the andropause. They get depressed, start questioning their lives, and begin to lose their sex drive and motivation. Other symptoms include mood swings and irritability, loss of muscle mass and reduced ability to exercise, fat redistribution, such as developing a large belly or the dreaded “man boobs” and difficulty sleeping.
The general advice to mitigate the symptoms of the andropause is to maintain an active lifestyle with plenty of exercise and watch what you eat and drink. And mostly importantly talk to your GP if you are experiencing any of the symptoms.
‘Hormones can help’
Testosterone deficiency causes a number of problems, including a decrease in muscular strength, a decline in the feeling of general wellbeing, joint pain, excessive sweating, sleep problems, anxiety and irritability. Some men are affected more than others.
The experts say that hormones can help, although most GPs wouldn’t consider testing male hormone levels. If you can persuade them to undertake a test and this indicates a testosterone deficiency, you may be referred to an endocrinologist, a specialist in hormone problems and if this specialist confirms this diagnosis, you may be offered testosterone replacement to correct the hormone. For more information and advice, check out the NHS website
For some older men, the onset of male menopause can be a difficult time, with different symptoms beginning to affect their well-being, and with the COVID-19 pandemic halting normal life, male menopause can have an even bigger impact on their mental health.
Men’s health specialist Optimale has produced a helpful guide, Understanding the Male Menopause and Mental Health , which focuses on the emotional as well as physical changes that are associated with the male menopause – from memory loss and lowered libido to secondary effects like fatigue, insomnia, and irrationality. It includes helpful tips and advice for managing symptoms, lifestyle changes and potential treatments.