Contrary to menopause in women, which occurs when hormone production stops completely, male menopause (or testosterone decline) happens over a longer time span. Characterised by mood swings, depression, anxiety and a host of other mental wellbeing issues, the male menopause tends to affect men in their late 40s or early 50s.
Experiencing these hormonal changes can feel frightening, but you’re not alone. As this guide explains, there’s a roughly one in three chance that you’ll experience this decline in testosterone, and the associated symptoms.
What are the symptoms of male menopause?
Male menopause can be hard to identify since many of its characteristics are aligned with mental health symptoms. Men may feel depressed, anxious, fatigued or they may experience poor concentration and memory loss. This can be accompanied by a loss of libido and even bouts of erectile dysfunction, although both of these side effects can come about in connection with poor mental health too.
At the age of this occurring (40-50), it is common for men to experience what is commonly called a "mid-life crisis". Starting to 'feel' older can leave men questioning the direction their life is going in, and what they have achieved. The knock-on effects of this can be anxiety and depression, so you shouldn’t just dismiss how you’re feeling. It’s something to notice and monitor.
Top tips for managing the male menopause
The building blocks of a healthy lifestyle lie in maintaining a healthy diet, exercising (outside if possible), and getting good sleep. Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, with moderate amounts of fat and processed food, helps to aid concentration and contribute to a healthier body. Exercise is an excellent mood lifter, especially if you are able to complete your exercise outside and absorb vitamin D.
Finally, as we age, we begin to feel the effects of poor sleep in our bodies. Getting the full eight hours by creating a sleep routine will help to take the stress out of certain situations.
When to seek help
If testosterone levels are low, this could be the reason for some of the above mental health issues. However, more often than not, our wellbeing is connected to how we perceive the world and certain lifestyle factors. In fact, the NHS say that the term ‘male menopause’ can be unhelpful. Although they acknowledge common symptoms – such as a general lack of enthusiasm or energy, mood swings and irritability, and fat redistribution, such as developing a large belly or "man boobs" – they emphasise the importance of finding the underlying cause and working out what can be done to resolve it.
For this reason, it can really help men to talk things through. If you have tried resetting some of the above building blocks and are still having difficulty with symptoms, you may wish to see your GP or chat to one of our counsellors. Chatting with a professional can help to identify patterns. For example, sometimes, people are experiencing insomnia, which leads to memory loss. Memory loss then, in turn, leads to irritability, and so a calm and placid man can find himself getting cross for no reason. He may not have linked this to his sleep pattern.
Speaking to a therapist can offer insight and strategies to help control your concerns and fears.
With thanks to Anne Williams for providing this article. Anne Williams is an independent researcher and writer. She has been writing for different publications for two years now. She's a weekend traveller who loves swimming and hiking. Anne is also an active advocate for mental health in her community and volunteers on different community engagement programs.
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