Man stretching his calf

Dumbbell Icon Strength

Andropause: What is the Male Menopause?

As men age, their hormone levels naturally decline, leading to a range of physical and emotional changes that are collectively known as andropause[1]. Compared to the variable nature of changing hormones women experience during perimenopause leading to menopause, the onset of andropause is more subtle in men, with testosterone levels declining by around 1% each year.

3 mins read


Published on

May 24, 2023

Reviewed by

Dr Thom Phillips

Dr Thom Phillips

24 May 2023

Share this article

UNDERSTANDING ANDROPAUSE

Andropause, also known as ‘male menopause’, is a term used to describe the gradual decline in testosterone levels in men that occurs with ageing. Testosterone is a hormone that plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of male physical and sexual characteristics, such as muscle mass, bone density, and libido. As men age, the production of testosterone decreases, leading to a range of physical and psychological changes.

In addition to ageing, several factors can contribute to the onset of andropause, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking.

SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS

Andropause can cause a range of physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms, which can vary from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Decreased sex drive

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Fatigue and low energy levels

  • Muscle weakness and loss of muscle mass

  • Increase in body fat, particularly around the waist

  • Hot flashes and night sweats

  • Mood swings, irritability, and depression

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice to identify the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Not all men will experience all of these symptoms, and some men may not experience any symptoms at all. However, for those who do experience symptoms, they can have a significant impact on their quality of life and should not be ignored.

WHEN DOES ANDROPAUSE HAPPEN?

The age at which men start to experience andropause can vary, but it typically occurs between the ages of 40 and 55. However, some men can experience hormonal changes earlier or later in life.

The age of onset can be influenced by a range of factors, including genetics, lifestyle factors, and underlying health conditions. For example, men who lead a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, may experience hormonal changes later in life than men who lead a more sedentary lifestyle.

Overall, while andropause is a natural part of the ageing process, it can have a significant impact on a man’s quality of life, including impacting athletic performance and strength.

COMPARING ANDROPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE

SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES

While andropause and menopause both involve hormonal changes that occur with ageing, there are some key differences between the two conditions.

Women begin to experience the transition to menopause from their late 30s and early 40s. This phase is known as perimenopause and is when women experience many of the symptoms associated with declining levels of oestrogen and progesterone – which can be erratic up to menopause. Menopause is a point in time when a woman hasn’t had a period in 12 months or more. Andropause, on the other hand, is a gradual decline in testosterone levels that occurs in men as they age. While it can also cause physical and emotional symptoms, they tend to be less severe than those associated with menopause.

One of the key differences between menopause and andropause is that men can continue to produce sperm well into old age, even if their testosterone levels have declined. Women, on the other hand, experience a complete cessation of menstrual periods and are no longer able to conceive naturally.

HORMONAL CHANGES IN MEN AND WOMEN

During menopause, women experience a decline in the production of oestrogen and progesterone, which can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms.

Men, on the other hand, experience a decline in the production of testosterone during andropause. This can lead to a range of physical changes, such as decreased muscle mass, increased body fat, and decreased bone density.

While the hormonal changes that occur during menopause and andropause are different, both can have a significant impact on physical and emotional health. It is important for both men and women to seek medical advice if they are experiencing symptoms related to hormonal changes.

HOW IS ANDROPAUSE DIAGNOSED?

When diagnosing andropause, a doctor will typically perform a physical exam and review the patient’s medical history and symptoms. They may also order blood tests to measure testosterone levels and rule out other underlying health conditions.

In addition to blood tests, a doctor may also perform other assessments such as a bone density scan to check for osteoporosis, which can be a complication of andropause.

TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR ANDROPAUSE

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is a common treatment for andropause. It involves replacing the testosterone that the body is no longer producing. TRT can be administered in several forms, including injections, patches, or gels. While HRT can be effective in alleviating symptoms, it is not without risks. You should speak to your GP if you’re considering TRT as an option.

Medically Reviewed

Dr Thom Phillips

This article has been reviewed by our medical expert

Our expert Dr Thom Phillips works in NHS general practice and has a decade of experience working in both male and female elite sport. He has a background in exercise physiology and has published research into fatigue biomarkers.