Schools will soon have menopause on the curriculum. Largely due to the efforts of psychotherapist Diane Danzebrink and her #MakeMenopauseMatter campaign. In 2019 Education Secretary Damian Hinds confirmed menopause will
become part of the Sex and Relationships curriculum for teenagers in the UK in Autumn 2020 alongside periods and pregnancy.
With the recognition that menopause needs to be better understood in the broader context of sex and relationships perhaps now we can begin to talk about men’s experience of changes in their hormones. Testosterone is the main sex
hormone (androgen) in men and the symptoms that men can experience as a result of reduced testosterone are called andropause. The hormone testosterone plays a role in the production of sperm, in the drive to have sex, in building muscle and bone mass, in the way fat is deposited around the body, in the facial and body hair patterns found in males and their deeper voices.
Men will experience hormonal changes as they age, levels of testosterone will start to decline from around 30 at approximately 10% every decade. It is important to note that testosterone reduction can also be affected by other
factors such as injury, cancer treatments, medication and chronic conditions including diabetes, obesity, kidney and liver disease. Symptoms include a lower sex drive, loss of body muscle and an increase in body fat, decrease in bone
density, fatigue, insomnia and difficulty attaining and maintaining erections*.
From research by the Centre for Men’s Health Clinic in Manchester, looking at men over 50 in the UK, Dr Malcolm Carruthers says: “Of the ten thousand men surveyed actually 80 per cent had moderate or high levels of symptoms suggesting they had testosterone deficiency. This shows that its not the rare condition that some doctors claim but actually its very common and almost totally untreated.”
Symptoms described by two patients attending the clinic and suffering from low testosterone, defined as Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome, share features with women’s accounts of menopause.
“Well I was 55 or there abouts and I was getting perspiration in my shirt and was getting really wet, I’m talking serious perspiration, tiredness and I had a lot of muscle aches particularly in my legs”.
“I was a fishing skipper for 23 years and was the type of person that woke up in the morning and rolled out of bed and was on the job, something to do” … Then when I reached the age of 55 I began to feel that I was flagging and I got all sorts of strange to me symptoms, aches, pains, horrendous sweats and uncontrollable temper.”
What about the mental and emotional aspects of andropause? We need to acknowledge and better understand andropause and the impact on men and their lives and relationships. Symptoms of andropause include mood swings,
irritability, low-self esteem, memory and concentration problems and depression. These are familiar menopausal symptoms for women, however it may be harder for men to acknowledge these symptoms and to ask for help
because they are associated with female menopause.
Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy is a collective of experienced psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors working with a range of client groups, including fellow therapists and health professionals. If you would like more information, or an informal discussion please get in touch. Online therapy is available.
Centre for Men’s Health Clinic
Associated Press Television 11.3.2011
*See an earlier blog about men’s use of Viagra here.