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Last week (w/c 17 October 2022) was extremely busy for me, not to mention exhausting and exhilarating. As it was Menopause Awareness Week, I delivered fourteen menopause awareness sessions to over 600 people.

I’m happy to say that the feedback has been amazing, and I feel honoured that I’ve been able to positively impact so many lives. That’s why I love and do what I do!

In my last post, Think menopause just affects middle-aged women? Think again I promised I would discuss male menopause, often referred to as ‘Andropause’. During last week’s sessions, one question that came up repeatedly was, ‘Do men go through menopause?’. 

Male vs Female Menopause

If you research ‘Male Menopause’, you’ll see some conflicting ideas about whether men go through the same mid-life change as women. Undoubtedly, both can suffer drops in important hormones, which produce very similar symptoms. However, they aren’t quite the same.

When a person born with a womb enters the peri-menopause phase (the time running up to their last period), estrogen levels drop very quickly. The sudden fall in that vital hormone can be attributed to many of the menopause symptoms.

With men, unlike the quick decline in estrogen seen during menopause, their testosterone generally declines relatively slowly – less than 2% per year from the ages of 30 to 40. However, for some, the reduction may be more rapid.

Symptoms of Low Testosterone

Typically when a man reaches his late 40s/early 50s or earlier, if there is a greater decline in testosterone, he’s likely to experience the following types of symptoms:

  • Reduced sex drive
  • Reduced erectile function
  • Loss of body hair
  • Less beard growth
  • Loss of lean muscle mass
  • Feeling very tired all the time (fatigue)
  • Fat redistribution, such as developing a large belly or “man boobs.”
  • Obesity
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings and irritability

Of course, many of these symptoms can appear for other reasons, e.g., stress, anxiety, poor diet, lack of excise, etc., so it’s important not to jump to conclusions.

Managing Andropause Symptoms

First, I recommend looking at ways of reducing your stress (these tools are not gender-specific!):

  • Introduce more exercise (especially weightlifting) – I urge my clients to put their training in the diary as they would any other important meeting and make it immovable.
  • Eat ‘clean’ food – Avoid processed food as much as possible, as our bodies are not designed to process it. Even just one ‘healthy’ meal a day will have significant benefits.
  • Add vitamin/mineral supplements to your diet (see below)
  • Take an analytical look at your life – What’s working and what’s not. Do more of what is and less of what’s not. You may need some help with this – I know a great coach!
  • Meditate 15 minutes a day – Meditation is clinically proven to reduce stress and facilitate clear thought. If you think meditation is some new-age nonsense, think again. There’s incredible evidence to support and demonstrate the clear benefits.
  • Keep a journal – You can’t measure what you aren’t aware of. Keeping a journal of your progress, how you feel, and what’s working/not working and adjusting things as you go is key to building resilience.

Other Tools

  • Vitamins D3, B12, and Omega 3 have been clinically proven to improve mood. Interestingly, no matter your age or gender, if you’re low in D3, B12 or Omega 3, the symptoms include low mood, lethargy, anxiety and depression-like symptoms.
  • Exercise burns off adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones) and releases feel-good hormones, dopamine and endorphins. It also helps regulate our serotonin (necessary for a healthy sleep/wake cycle) and if we exercise with others, we also get a boost in oxytocin (the biochemical that is responsible for helping us feel safe).
  • Weight training is also known to increase testosterone levels, increasing muscle mass and bone density. It is particularly important for menopausal people to do some sort of resistance training as it assists in warding off the onset of osteoporosis – which is common post-menopause.

(I’m sure it goes without saying that if you’re thinking of dramatically changing any diet or exercise regime, it’s important to speak to a medical professional.)

Depression Misdiagnosis

If you’re particularly troubled by your symptoms, or you’ve tried the recommended lifestyle changes, and things still don’t improve, I recommend visiting your doctor and asking for a blood test.

From what I understand from the many discussions I’ve had recently, it can be a bit of a battle and even a post-code lottery as to whether your doctor will test for low testosterone, especially if you’re under 40.

From the people I’ve spoken to, it seems common for doctors to prescribe men with anti-depressants when experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety but not to offer a blood test. Unfortunately, this seems to be common for menopausal people, too, especially if they display symptoms before age 45.

However, you know your body, and you will instinctively know if there’s something wrong.  Do your research, stick to your guns, and, if necessary, get a second opinion. As with most things, awareness is key to making changes…

We can’t change what we aren’t aware of!

Unfortunately, so many men were taught growing up to ignore their emotions and to ‘man up – big boys don’t cry’ (I wrote about this in an article a couple of months ago. Read it here).

Being ridiculed and made to feel wrong for expressing feelings often leads to suppressing such emotions into adulthood. However, this form of avoidance can have hugely detrimental effects on both mental and physical well-being.

So, if you think something’s wrong – GET CHECKED OUT! Putting your head in the sand won’t make it go away.

Menopause Awareness Training

No matter your age or gender, menopause will touch every single one of us at some point. I’m a great believer in ‘Knowledge is Power’. Arming yourself with at least the basics will no doubt help when it does.

If you’re a person going through menopause, I have a 4-week online course that teaches simple tools and techniques to help you thrive, ‘Managing the Menopause with Style’. Click here to learn more about it – use code LINKEDIN20 for 20% as a special thank you for all your support.

For organisations, I deliver in-person or virtual menopause awareness training:

  • General Menopause Awareness – 1 hour
  • Managers Menopause Awareness – 2 hours
  • Managing the Menopause with Style (menopausal people) – 2.5 hours

Each of these sessions also includes a section on Andropause.

For more information, email me at jo@jobanks.net.

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