If you’re in your late forties or early fifties and you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction and a loss of sex drive, coupled with depression it could be that you’re going through the male menopause.
This can impact on your day-to-day life and relationships so it’s important that you take action.
Keep reading to find out what other signs to look out for and the treatments that might help return things to normal so you can get on with enjoying life once again.
Common signs of the male menopause
As well as erectile dysfunction, reduced sex drive and depression you may experience:
- Loss of body hair
- Mood swings
- Feelings of irritability
- Reduction of muscle mass
- Low self-confidence
- Feeling lethargic
- Concentration problems
- Poor short-term memory
- Increase in body fat
- Gynecomastia (“man boobs”)
What happens during the male menopause?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the male menopause (also known as andropause) is related to the female menopause but this isn’t the case.
In the male menopause, testosterone levels only drop slightly, often due to age, whereas oestrogen levels drop drastically during the female menopause.
It’s normal and common for a man’s testosterone levels to drop as they get older. This decline in hormones is gradual and steady. In fact, it’s estimated that testosterone decreases at a rate of less than 2% a year from around the age of 30 to 40.1
The impact this hormone imbalance has on each individual male can vary considerably. Some men have lower than average testosterone levels, without experiencing any adverse symptoms.
Male menopause doesn’t affect all men (whereas all women experience female menopause) and men can still reproduce whereas women can’t.
Strictly speaking, the male menopause isn’t a medical condition but is used to describe the age-related symptoms listed above. Often the symptoms are caused by physical, lifestyle or psychological problems.
For instance, feeling stressed because of work or relationship problems can affect your libido and cause sleeping problems.
Drinking too much and not exercising can make you feel lethargic and reduce your muscle mass.
Analysing your life at the half way stage (“a midlife crisis”) can make you feel irritable and you may experience a period of depression if you feel you’ve not achieved as much as you’d have hoped to have by this point in your life.
What’s the difference between the male and female experience of menopause?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the male menopause is related to the female menopause. This isn’t the case.
There are some similarities in the common menopause symptoms of men and women as they advance through middle age.
For example, reduced sex drive, an increase in body fat and mood swings can be common in both.
But there are also lots of differences too. Hot flashes in men are far less common for instance.
And whereas men continue to produce sperm and procreate well into their older years, a woman’s reproduction cycle ends with menopause.
Male menopause vs female menopause
|Male menopause||Female menopause|
|Gradual reduction in testosterone||End of ovulation leads to a sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone|
|Sperm production continues - males can reproduce into older age||Menopause marks the end of the female reproduction cycle|
|Not all men show signs of male menopause||All females experience menopause|
|Signs of menopause emerge slowly and subtly||Menopause symptoms can be sudden and intense|
What treatments are available for the male menopause?
If you’re displaying one or more of the male menopause symptoms, you should make an appointment to see your GP so they can get to the root of what might be causing them.
They will ask you a series of questions and take a blood test. Based on their findings they’ll be able to recommend a number of different treatments.
They may ask you to change your lifestyle by eating better, exercising, cutting down on alcohol and give up smoking or they might suggest cognitive behavioural therapy or medication.
The treatments they recommend will depend on what symptoms you have and what’s causing them.
If you’re overweight or have type 2 diabetes you could develop late-onset hypogonadism which is a rare condition that has many of the same symptoms as “male menopause.”
Your GP will measure your testosterone levels before confirming whether you have the condition or not.
If you do have it they may suggest tablets, gels, injections or patches to help boost your testosterone levels back up.
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Last updated: 9 August 2021